The Esopus Creek runs through three hundred years of my family’s stories. It’s easy to imagine my Dutch and Palatine forbears tapping into its store of fish in order to fend off hunger. I used to fish it too on occasion, but happily, my survival never depended on the catch!
The Esopus nearly took my father’s life one afternoon when he was small. He went under, but my grandfather was watching, and pulled him back up into the air.
I was baptized in those same waters, along with my Dad and the rest of my immediate family. It was a chilly sacrament since Indian summer didn’t show up that September.
After a brief testimony, I held my nose and arched backward until fully immersed. Pastor Miller steadied me, but I still felt disoriented and vulnerable in the cold Esopus.
Baptism is a tactile poem about resurrection, which is the spiritual principle of life-from-death, and the current that carries hope forward. Faith isn’t just a wish. It’s more like counting on an unfolding of good things I can’t create for myself – an unfolding that unfolds forever.
All goose bumps and grins, and in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, we were pulled out of the water into the air. Life from death: ritually enacted and viscerally understood.