I have a confession to make.  The plane was not the first time I felt that kind of spiritual trance, the Spirit guiding my steps.

            After I nearly died at the age of fourteen, my life changed.  I wanted to further explore the thinking that had occurred in the cemetery.  In the midst of the storm, I had tried to talk to God for perhaps the first time in my life.  I wanted to know more.  In high school, I was reunited with Alex and his family, who had returned to our town.  He was coping with the death of his parents, and I was recovering from nearly dying myself.  In an odd way, it made us friends. 

            Alex and Zoë convinced me to come to church with them.  The moment I walked into the building, I felt like it was a place to learn about what I had felt in the cemetery.  It wasn’t long before I was coming to Sunday night services and attending the youth group afterwards.  I heard stories about Moses and Samson and the disciples, and felt a fervent desire to follow in their footsteps. 

            It was gradual.  I was a ridiculously rational child, a problem solver.  I loved science and research as much as I loved literature and stories.  I wanted to know everything.  Believing in something that I couldn’t prove really bothered me.  Yet, there I was, every Sunday.  Sitting in a pew and feeling something stir in my heart.  My skin would tingle, and the air seemed charged with energy.  Each week it grew.

            I asked about getting baptized when I was nineteen, in the last semester of high school.  Reverend Craig, our minister, was more than willing.  He didn’t usually perform baptisms on Sunday nights, reserving them for the day service, but he was happy to make an exception, since I wasn’t part of the regular morning congregation.  He scheduled it for Father’s Day, the last night of Sunday services before the summer, where it went on hiatus.

            I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, but Alexander invited our friends.  My family and friends sat with me as I waited to be called to the front.  I sat in my black dress pants and a short-sleeved white dress shirt, anxious and excited.  My toes and fingers tapped with growing anticipation.

            “It is with great pleasure that I pause in the order of tonight’s service to invite a young man to the front,” Reverend Craig said.  “This young man has been coming here for five years, involving himself in our youth group and drama skits, volunteering his time for fundraisers and Bible studies.  It is my great honour to call Ethan Keaton Pitney forward for baptism.”

            I walked down the red carpet of the middle aisle, my heart fluttering.  I stood on the steps leading up to the stage, as Reverend Craig continued.  He talked about how baptism was a profession of faith in God and Jesus Christ, but I hardly heard him.  I could feel the air stirring, with more energy than during services or prayer.  The room was almost humming.  I couldn’t understand why no one else was reacting to the sound.

“Ethan, if you could please kneel…” the preacher was saying.  I dutifully went down to my knees, as he began the prayer.  Just ahead of me was a wooden stand with the baptismal font, with Reverend Craig standing beside.  I closed my eyes.

            “Ethan Keaton Pitney, I baptize you in the name of the Father, who brings our life into being; Jesus Christ the Saviour, who gives our life its meaning; and the Holy Spirit the Enabler, who guides our life from its beginning to its ending.”

            He took the water from the baptismal font as he spoke, and dripped it on my head before resting his hand atop my hair for a moment.  And then I felt it.

            There are no words to explain this to you who might be reading this.  Unless you’ve had spiritual experiences of your own, I know of no way to describe how intensely real those experiences can be.  They have no evidence, no proof, they just happen in your heart.  My rational mind often questioned my presence in church, and the only answer I ever had for my mind, was that it felt right.

            But at the moment of my baptism, there were no questions.  I experienced faith.  How do I put this?  You know that feeling you get, when you take a deep, cleansing breath?  You feel fuller, lighter, cleaner?  Well, imagine a breath that took you.  The wind entered me, swirling in my chest, filling me with light and love, making me feel more than full, more than clean.  I fairly trembled with emotion.  Every cell of my body felt that cleansing breath. 

            When I opened my eyes and stood up, I shook hands with Reverend Craig and returned to my seat until the services were over.  I looked around the room and it seemed new and bright.  My heart went out to my friends and family, full of joy that they were here.  Things happened quickly around me, my family was going back to the house to get final preparations ready for the people who were coming over:  my parents had planned a party.  Alex and the others were taking me out for ice cream while they got ready.  I barely heard any of this as it was discussed; I was too busy looking at things. 

            The grass was greener.  The tree outside by the door was brighter, newer.  The wind was a soft and fragrant caress against my skin, and it was filled with music.  My friends had to drag me to Neal’s van, I was so lost in experience.  They laughed to see me beaming from ear to ear.  I sat by the window, mesmerized by the feeling of the wind on my hand as I held it out.  The world was new.  I laughed.

            It wasn’t until later that I realized the world had stayed the same.  I had been allowed to see it for the wondrous place it was because I had been made new. 

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