The preacher places her hand on our young heads as we kneel side by side. We don’t really know what this means. We are just girls after all. We will not remember her words. But we will never forget the moment.
I’m fifty-five years old now. She is not yet fifty-eight. She takes my hand and we step into the river and fall back in surrender.
We’re much, much older than the day when we knelt at the altar. Many things have changed. We’re no longer girls, but grandmas. We have gray hairs where blonde used to be. We have laugh lines and wrinkles and our knees cannot bend quite as fast as they once did.
But our hearts have not changed.
And God’s Holy Spirit, who first drew us to the altar all those years ago remains the same. It still whispers to us and calls us by name and echoes through these four decades that have passed so quickly by.
And when we emerge, dripping and sodden, from the exhilarating cold of the Jordan River; in the very same place where Joshua crossed the waters to claim the Promised Land; in the very same spot where Jesus waded out to John the Baptist; on this sunny afternoon in the company of blue skies and bulrushes, my sister and I turn to each other and laugh, and hug.
Just as if someone had opened heaven’s doors and set them free.