Somewhere between the ages of nine and ten, I got baptized. It wasn't that I felt the need for it, it was just the thing to do at that age and in that church. Perhaps my parents or my siblings felt it was time, maybe even past time. I felt about as much need to be baptized as I did to have my soul saved. It just never made any sense to me. It felt off, like something people might do to feel better about themselves but I couldn't see how that involved me in any way. For the most part, I felt fine about myself.
When the call to the altar came one Sunday and salvation was nigh, my cousin Shelley, who was sitting next to me, decided it was time and stepped forward. I, however, hesitated just a bit too long and next thing I knew the time for repentance was over. For that week. The next week, there it came again, same call, same altar. I felt no need to go, but with my cousin nudging me (apparently she felt I had the need), I walked forward with the others feeling foolish and small. I can't articulate exactly what I felt, but it didn't feel right.
After I went to the altar and they prayed over me, asked if I wanted to be saved (I thought it best if I agreed at that point), they took me into this small side room along with everyone else who came forward, talked to us some more about our personal salvation, read some appropriate Bible verses and what have you. I remember almost nothing about that except the way I felt and it wasn't good. For the life of me I couldn't understand the need, what the hoopla was all about. I didn't feel saved. I didn't feel better. As a matter of fact, I felt worse. Diminished somehow. Of course, I didn't reveal these feelings to anyone. I may have mentioned not feeling all that much better about myself to my sister, Jane, but when cousin Shelley asked, insinuating how much better I surely must be feeling, I quietly nodded. At least she felt better.
The salvation thing happened when I was about six, possibly seven years old; the baptism took place a couple of years later. I suppose I needed to prove myself worthy, which I managed to pull off long enough to get a dip in the lake. This was before I went to Bible camp and gave evidence to the contrary. That story is here: http://teresaevangeline.blogspot.com/2010/07/camp-jim-mama-tried.html
My baptism was in a local lake on a Sunday afternoon. Rainy Lake is a pretty little lake not far from where I live now. I've taken a dip or two in it since but not for baptism purposes. I can tell you I felt better than I did that Sunday afternoon when the pastor held my nose, one of the deacons held down the turquoise skirt my mama had made me, and gently pushed me backwards into the water. Afterward, I walked to the shore not feeling anything but wet.
Here's the baptism scene from, "Oh Brother, Where Art thou?" with Alison Krauss and, "Down in the River To Pray." One of my favorite movies and one of my favorite singers all rolled into one. Speaking of one, I think that's where the salvation thing comes in. We're all One, all connected to the divine, nobody needs "saving." It's a fun scene anyway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgVL-rBq9Fw