Water: Editing Room Floor

I don’t think all of this is going to make it into tomorrow’s sermon (well, maybe, who knows) but I’m kind of in love with it, so here it goes on the editing room floor…

Among the things I love about summer is spending a week outdoors, camping somewhere, but especially the moments toward the of that trip when you slip into a lake or a stream, with a little bottle of biodegradable (of course) soap, and come out smelling like peppermint with only a little bit of smoke smell left in your hair. It is that feeling of washing away, getting clean, starting fresh.

Every once in a while, my two-year old comes up with new little theological insights, new ways of explaining church-y things to herself, and one of my current favorites is the “church bath”. It’s what she calls the baptismal font. The place where she sees babies getting their heads wet. I know, at two, she doesn’t get that much about baptism, but she seems to get the clean part: baptism is the place where we get clean and fresh and get a new start.

And maybe that’s what I like about lakes and rivers and streams at the end of a camping trip… the sense of starting fresh and getting clean, almost like a little baptism before you go back to the world.

But, of course, those little baptisms are better when they happen in a clean body of water…you’ve got to pick water that looks at least cleaner than you are…

Summers, growing up, we swam in ponds. Now, if you were one of the wealthier kids in the little town in upstate New York where I grew up, your family might have a cottage on one of the big cold, clear lakes up in the Adirondaks, lakes where the sky and trees reflected off the very top, and you could see the granite bottom distorted through the ripples.

The just-above-average families among us would have a little cabin on a pond somewhere in the hills.

Our family cabin was on Laurel Lake. It was called a Lake, but but make no mistake: it was a pond. And by late July, the Laurel “pond” would be “working” as our cabin neighbor PJ Palella put it…”working” meaning that from the shore, and creeping out to the center, there were big green slimy clumps on the surface. In order to swim, we’d take the canoe out from the dock, and jump into the smaller and smaller patch in the middle where the water was still it’s regular mucky dark color. And by August, the clumps would grow together into a skin that covered almost the whole pond, and all we could do was wait for the frost the come and kill off the slime, so that it sunk to the mucky bottom of Laurel Lake.

Now, I think about Laurel Lake with some nostalgia, and I said that all really nice just now, but there is a much simpler way to put it: it was gross. Like swimming in a pool of fluorescent snot. It had to get awfully hot and sticky in July and August for us to brave the waters. And I’m guessing the Adirondak-Cabin-Heirs in my class would have had nothing to do with Laurel Lake.

One Response to “Water: Editing Room Floor”

  1. meg Says:

    Two phrases here I love — and for very different reasons:

    “Church bath”


    “flourescent snot.”

    Blessings on your preach. I have no doubt that people were blessed by your words at the Holy Spirit’s disposal.