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The Ancient Mystery of Baptism

The act of baptism long pre-dated the Christian community. One can find water for purification outside very ancient temples. Therefore the tradition of baptism is older than the historical Christian church. It had its ascendance in the love a mother felt for her children, and beyond that the love she felt and gave to other children. Beyond that still, a loving woman might suckle a creature and extend her love beyond the normal boundaries. She might hold that other child, or that creature, with the same tenderness that she held her own baby. In such a moment she would know something that was beyond herself. It is something that flows through all of us. We symbolise it as the water, the milk, the wine, or the blood. It is the flow of love that comes from beyond our own small personality.

The urge that enables us to reach out to another person who is not our own kin, or to another creature, is a small awareness of that universal life and consciousness that pervades all things. It is an expression of the Mystery that we can perhaps never understand, that is Life.

Baptism represents a conscious opening or an introduction to that Life. It is an experience of that life flowing into and through us. It is also an entrance into the recognition of the wider family; of that mysterious body we call Christ. We become brothers and sisters in a wider community. It takes some skill to recognise who these brothers and sisters are, and what part they might play in our life. Calling yourself a Christian does not necessarily mean you have been truly baptised in that spirit of life and love. In fact you might still be imprisoned by attitudes of class, creed, skin colour or gender.

Fundamentally baptism means a change in the stance or condition of your inner attitudes. It means relinquishing fixed opinions and having an open mind. It means opening the doors of your being to new experiences, to new possibilities, pleasurable and painful. It means learning to love without bending others to your will, without grasping them for your own needs. It also means becoming a channel for that river of Life to flow through. This path does not dangle a carrot of eternal bliss, or the resolution of all human problems. “I come”, that flow of Life in us says, “not to bring peace, but a sword…. take up your cross and follow me.” What is offered is participation in everyday life and death in a new way. We can become workers in the vineyard – that is, co-workers with the processes of growth and evolution in the worlds of nature.

From a scientific view we are all of the same kin. We all started our journey toward humanity as a single celled creature. We go back to that beginning when we reproduce and start our growth for the sexual ovum. Also it is now known that virtually everyone had the same mother – this has been shown through the analysis of our genes. Countless generations ago a woman gave birth to children that became our present race. Some us changed skin colour as we moved into darker climates because vitamin D was essential to our health, and with dark skins we could not absorb enough of it. Unfortunately we also inherited the tribal tendency to look at a slightly different sister and brother as alien and enemies. See archetype of baptism.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved