Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Baptizing Cars and Us, (the Friendly Way)

A serendipity, an unplanned blessing, came one morning as I drove down Bradley Road. Very unexpectedly, as I had been struggling through a severe spiritual crisis, yet another pilgrim's regress.*

It's Saturday. I’ve run an errand, am headed for work. But then I see that hunched, elderly man, the one who stands on Bradley at a narrow crossroad, his thumb out, hitchhiking most days of the week.

I never stop because traffic here is bad, very heavy and there is no side lane, and, besides, there are miles to go before I rest. I haven't earned enough money, self-employed.

But today, incredibly, no cars are crowding my back-bumper, so I go with my alert conscience and concern, and stop for the oldster.

Swarthy, leather-skinned, in old wrinkled clothes, he almost looks homeless, and is hunched over as if someone has curled his spine; his one gnarled hand holds a small trash bag, maybe his lunch.

Gingerly, he climbs into my Sienna and thanks me.

But I can hardly understand what else he is saying because he speaks with a heavy Spanish accent and has a serious voice impediment. He sits there bent forward, his face weathered, like dark brown parchment.

But finally, I figure out he has 13 grandkids and his wife died from cancer 18 months ago and
that he works at a carwash
and is 82 years old!

We commune, even though it is hard to understand most of his rumpled words.

My heavy load of grief lightens.

I leave him off near his work where he baptizes cars with water Baptist-style.

But even though we speak no religious language and Friends don't practice rituals such as baptism and communion,
the hitchhiker and I live in a precious moment,
a present meeting,
a transcendent baptism
in the Light.

In the Light,
Daniel Wilcox

*(Does a person's spiritual journey ever reach the proverbial mountain top? Or at least a little peaceful oasis in the barren desert of ached spiritual longing?)

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