What is this coming awake to God? What is this awareness of the holy that vibrates in my soul? What spirit washes over me and baptizes me anew each day? I thrill to it, this holy water that comes to me in many forms. It appears in the scent of autumn leaves. It flies among the chimney swifts above my head. Its caress is the breeze blowing through maple branches.
I find it in the “mikveh” of a bath at home. Using a bowl to pour warm, clean water over my head, I am cleansed both bodily and spiritually. As the water runs down my back, I breathe gratitude to God.
My daily baptisms are imbued with sensuality and embody my physical, visceral experience of God. God is here, now, in all that surrounds me. When one of these experiences occurs, it opens me to be able to breathe, to let go the anxiety of the day, and to give thanks. I feel as the world must feel after a cleansing rain:
Everything glints and gleams, everything radiates out of itself as a hundred scents rise from the soil and the fungus-ridden trunks, from insect egg cases and last year’s leaves and the moist, matted fur of two squirrels chasing each other….A tangle of essences drifts and mingles in the mind of this old orchard, each inhaling the flavor of everyone else, yielding a mood of openness and energetic ease as the clouds begin to part and the late afternoon sun calls wisps of steam from the grass.*
What is God but this? This sacred, ordinary scene. What is holy water but this rain, this breeze, these scents? What is God’s presence but sharing life with squirrels, oaks, and robins?
Remember the Easter Vigil when we renew our baptismal vows? And the priest showers us with holy water cast from a cedar branch? Each day is that vigil. In what moments is holy water landing on your precious head?
*from Becoming Animal by David Abram, p. 153, one of my favorite books.