the re-membering ones

Once upon a time, in another life, I was the TA for Dale Coulter's Introduction to Theology class. While cruising along on the topic of baptism, Dale-- as always-- was giving fair treatment to the many views on the topic in the Christian tradition. I can't remember the exact content of the comment, but some student made a wise crack about how infant baptism isn't really baptism, yada yada yada. And Dale did something which influenced my entire view of the teaching craft. Specifically, he didn't deal with Smarty Pants McSmarterson directly. Instead he sighed and walked around to the front of his desk and sat down and looked at the class. He then proceeded to give the most beautiful description of what happens with infant baptism. He talked about how baptism is a recognition of faith. In adult/believer's baptism, the faith is "obviously" the faith of the person being baptized. But with infant baptism, something very different is happening. Infant baptism is still a recognition of faith, but it is the faith of the community surrounding the child. The community, the family, gather around the child and say, "Our faith will sustain her. When she falters, we will remind her." The community commits to function as a living reminder to this child of who she is, of the fact that she is loved, of the fact that many, many persons are invested in the ongoing act of creation that is her life.

It occurs to me that in the best of cases, this is the way friendships and families work. When we falter and lose that deep connection, that sense of who we are, it doesn't mean that we have to fall apart. Sometimes we get lost or lonely or we just seriously. fuck. up. But those of us who are most fortunate in this life have folks around us who remind us of who we are. It is their faith in us and their vision of who we are that sustains us-- not forever, but until we can get on our feet again. When the world seems to go all topsy turvy, we don't have to rely on our internal guidance instruments. Sometimes and maybe, just maybe, it is enough... or maybe it is just a beginning... to be with those who have known us for so long, who can remind us. They are the living reminders. When we fall apart and have dismembered ourselves, they are the re-membering ones. They put us back together by looking through the mess and seeing what was once and is always true in us.

Jonathan and I are immensely fortunate to live our lives in the midst of a strong web of connection. Every place we have lived we've worked hard to cultivate relationships. I feel like I looked through 1000 pictures tonight. There are so many faces, so many connections, reminding me if I feel lost, a glimpse of who I am is only a phone call away.

Tonight I'm thankful for the re-membering ones and I feel the beautiful heavy weight of the solemn responsibility to re-member when the time comes.


  1. Amen, my distant but very close friend, amen!!

  2. You are such an amazing person and writer. I am blessed to call you my friend.

  3. Beautiful, Beth.

    And you have re-membered me well. Thank you. I love you so.