Here is a sestina I wrote as a reflection on my own baptism and on this week’s reading from Mark 1.
At eight-years-old I gave my life
to Jesus–or at least that’s what I promised
before my dad–our pastor–dunked me in the water.
And up I came–a new
creation, my sins cleaned
away, my spirit wet and wild.
Jesus, still dripping from the Jordan, was driven into the wilderness
where Satan offered him a life
that made sense; a clean-
cut way forward; a promise
of glory and power. I suppose Jesus knew
Satan’s plan would work, in a sense–an easy, watered-
down Messiahship, smooth as still water.
But scripture called Jesus to a wild
denial of the easy and obvious, to a renewed
commitment to life
the way God has given it–not the way Satan promised
it. Jesus chose a life that was hard, but clean.
When I emerged, dripping, they said I was clean,
so I guess the water
had done it’s job. Now my job was to keep a promise
I did not understand and cling to a God too wild
to hold. A lot to ask of an 8-year-old life.
Was I even old enough to be made new?
So Lent calls me back each year to renew
my naive commitments; to spring-clean
my soul and offer again my life;
to immerse myself in the waters
that may be calm or may be wild;
to strengthen my grip on God’s promises.
Lent calls me to clasp the ancient promise
and sweep out whatever shiny new
toys clutter my soul. The wilderness
is empty. It is quiet and clean
and hot and dry. It is after the water,
after the voice and the words of life.
The wilderness is a different kind of life–
holy and new—where I wash without water,
clinging to the Promise that makes me clean.