Wednesday, March 12, 2014


There are a few beautiful moments in winter.  Big, fat snowflakes falling from the sky. Watching a white world while you are cuddled by the fire place drinking hot chocolate.  Trees sparkling with ice. My boys pink cheeks as they come in from sledding.

The rest of the time? No thank you.  It is scarves and gloves and coats to layer against the biting cold.  Slush making your feet freeze and your pant legs soaked.  Stinging wind.   Driving slowly and watching for black ice.  Shivering indoors, huddled by the heater trying to get warm.  Street salt coating everything.  Gray skies.  Willing yourself to step out of the car and into the sharp, bitter cold.

And then I walk into my gym.  It's a different world. There is the summer smell of chlorine, and blasts of humid air.  I pull off my hat, coat, sweater,  tights, socks and boots and put on a bathing suit. I walk into the pool. One step at a time until I am floating in the water.  Swimming lap after lap in that small pool.  I can see my skin. Long, pale limbs propelling me back and forth.  I can see the cold and ice outside, but I am warm and free.

I just finished my new favorite book, The Happiness Project.  One piece of advice is to "Find out what works for you and enjoy it even if other people don't. Don't try to be someone else". "Be Gretchen" the author keeps reminding herself.  It has become my new mantra.

"Be Erin"  I tell myself tonight as I walk into my senior citizen gym.  Usually I am the youngest person in there by at least 30 years. Which I love.  Real swimmers would mock my little pool.  It is mostly used for therapy and senior water aerobics and is empty in the evenings when I go.  But in the cold winter months, my pool is warm, healing, and renewing.

Lately as I bobbed up and down in the water I've been thinking about Baptism.  The idea of ceremonial immersion in water to symbolize the beginning of one's public Christian faith.  Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River under a hot Middle Eastern sun.  And since then, Christians have been following His example in so many different ways.

I was baptized when I was 12.  I had a new navy dress and sandals with a little heel.  I felt very grown up as my pastor called me to the front of the church to talk about my decision to be baptized.  The baptism took place in our church baptistry during church.  Afterward many of our friends came to our home for a celebration agape feast.

Steve was baptized in Honduras on the beach.  It was the last day of our college mission trip.  The sun was setting as our Chaplain talked about the meaning of Baptism and then walked into the waves with his arm around Steve's shoulders.  After the baptism, our group took communion together before walking back up the beach.  Steve and I weren't dating at the time, but I am so glad that I happened to be there and be a part of that sacred moment in his life.

Jake was baptized on his 10th birthday.  A group of our family and friends met after church and hiked to Lake Powhatan, a favorite Miller destination.  It was a beautiful, fall day.  The trees surrounding the lake were a riot of color.  The water was cold.  Big towels were quickly offered to wrap up in before we headed back home for a party of Mexican food and Jake's favorite Key Lime Pie.

I'm thinking about all this in the pool this evening because our almost-13-year old Josh recently said he wanted to get baptized at the beach this summer.  I am so excited because it is his decision.  Though we have talked about and celebrated the other baptisms in our family, I didn't want him to feel pushed.  It has to be his choice.  In his time.

But I want it for him. So much.  I guess for some of the same reasons I want to be in this pool.  It is the decision to be part of a different world.  For the warm, enveloping protection that faith can be in a cold, unpredictable life.  There is no way I can explain to my 12 year old all that my spiritual life means to me at 45. What it's like to believe and to doubt.   What it is like to feel close to God.  How hard it is to feel God's silence.  Why the words forgiveness and grace can make me cry.  How fulfilling it is to use your spiritual gifts and to worship in community.  How the Bible comes alive again and again and again.   Josh's journey will be so different than mine.  But I hope his faith is filled with uncountable warm, healing, renewing experiences.

I told Josh we should plan his baptism in a way that reflects who he is.  I may have been too liberal in my suggestion.  Josh is definite about it being at The Outer Banks -one of his favorite places on earth. Which means only immediate family and grandparents will be able to come.  Josh is more than fine with that.  He's a private boy and wouldn't like a church full of people cheering him on.   Then Josh said to me "Let's find a night where there is good NBA game on TV.  I could get baptized, then we can come home and watch the game and have root beer floats.  That would be the perfect day!"  This was far from my idea of Sabbath afternoon holy celebration.  But I heard a voice from the book saying "let him be Josh",  and I said "that sure sounds like you.  Let's keep talking about that."

So Josh's baptism is sure to look different than mine.  As will his faith.  And from the warm, quiet waves in my pool tonight that seems just fine.


  1. I love that you give Josh freedom to be Josh. It is interesting how everyone's spiritual journey looks so different--we all have to walk our own path and figure it all out for ourselves. But in the end, that's a beautiful thing.

  2. A big day coming up for Josh (and the Millers and the Tyners) this June! How cool that his momma is on board for a memorable baptism Josh style! M2

  3. Josh is blessed to have such a wise and in tune mom!