Today, April 4, 2016 is the 50th Anniversary of my Baptism. I was just shy of five years old, but I have no memory of it. The oldest of my sisters, Leann, was baptized at the same time. She was a bit over a year old. It happened in a country Methodist Church, where my Hopkins' grandparents belonged most of their lives. It has become the most important day of my life, which may seem very strange, but let me tell you why.
No matter what has been going on in my life, spiritually or otherwise, I end up going back to that day. I must admit that at first this was a discipline based on my theological understanding of Baptism, but it very quickly became a natural habit. This habit was formed by what I began to find as I tried too go back to that moment of which I have no memory.
What I began to find was real relationship with God, and by that I mean that I discovered God as wholly and holy gift. My relationship with God is neither something I created nor is it something I earned, it was simply given to me, and my job since that day, through many fits and starts, tosses and turns, deep awareness and blissful ignorance, has been to be grateful.
Over time I have discovered that being grateful is what it is all about, and by "it" I mean life, everything. I can talk about and write about the intricacies of Christian theology and understanding the Bible, but when all is said and done, this simple truth is the core: I am gracefully loved by the force that created the universe and for that I am grateful.
Now, of course, I have many days when I forget this truth, and many days when it is hard to accept it, and many more days when I struggle with the fact that the person who just annoyed me is equally graciously loved. This simple truth does not always make life easier. I struggle with it, and that is where my participation in the Christian community, my study of the Bible, my experience of the crucified and risen Jesus, and my life with my husband and family comes in. They all help to remind me that I am, indeed, graciously loved and my only lifelong pursuit is to be grateful.
I am grateful for my baptism, and I wouldn't want it to have happened in any other way. I do not need to remember it; I simply need to use it as my reference point for striving to be as fully alive as God would have me be.