|Posted by Admin on January 16, 2016 at 7:25 PM|
Baptizing in the river
One day I was up at J.T.’s house and we heard his mama talking about a baptizing some Holiness church people were having down in the Forked Deer River at the bridge in Garland Bottom. We had never been to a baptizing, and we were both pretty curious about how those holy rollers did it. Me and J.T. looked at each other. “Mama,” J.T. said to Ellen, “Is it okay if me and Joe go down and sit on the bridge and watch the baptizing?”
Ellen considered it for a moment. “Yes, I suppose so,” she said. “You can go on down there and set and watch. But now, J.T., if y’uns fall in that canal and get drownded, I’m gonna whup you when you get home!”
Walking down the road to the river we tried to think that one through, but we didn’t get anywhere with it.
By the time we got to the place, the Holiness folks had already started. Some of them had climbed back up on the bank, shivering and wet, to dry off in the sun. There was a bunch of folks, men and women and young people, all wearing white robes. I had heard tell of the Holy Ghost, and that’s what they made me think of – ghosts. I felt a chill go down my spine. In my mind I tried out a thought: These folks called themselves Holiness (or maybe it was others called them that)…maybe that’s where the term “Holy Ghost” came from?
A few years passed before I began to read the Bible for myself and found out that the Holy Spirit is a person, and that person is God…and that a person who believes in Jesus can be filled with the Holy Spirit and have the power to live a Christian life.
But I didn’t know any of that then. Me and J.T., two little barefoot boys, sat there swinging our feet off the edge of the old wooden bridge, watching wide-eyed as the minister ducked one after another under the muddy waters of the Forked Deer. As we watched the spectacle in wonder, I had no way of knowing that I myself would one day be baptized in water, and finally understand the meaning: symbolically entering into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, my Lord. How little I understood then, and sometimes it seems I understand less now, but I go on learning. The images are still there, in the storehouse of memory, adding to my understanding of it all.
Reminds me of a preacher I heard about who liked to make sure people were baptized real good. He would hold folks under water a long time, while he prayed and made sure all the sin was washed away. One day he was baptizing a nervous looking old boy…got him dunked under the water and started to pray. Suddenly the guy commenced to jerking and thrashing around, trying to get away. The parson, a pretty husky old boy, just took a tighter grip and continued to pray, holding his man under by main strength. Bubbles floated up, and the preacher could hear something that sounded like words. The best he could make out, it sounded something like, “Oddey oddey oxin! Oddey oddey oxin!”
In due time the preacher said “Amen,” and raised his poor victim out of the water, red-faced and bug-eyed. “Now what were you trying to say, son,” the preacher asked.
But the guy was already halfway to the river bank, splashing water wildly in every direction in his haste. The preacher caught his answer as he clawed his way up the bank:
“I said, I seen a water moxican!”
To be continued.......