Jesus, my son, was now thirty years old. We had heard that John and his followers were down by the river and that John was baptizing. Jesus and I walked through the crowd down to the water’s edge. I saw Elizabeth seated among the onlookers and I sat down with her. The sun was bright and the air was dusty.
After a brief conversation with Elizabeth about what her son had been up to, I shaded my eyes to look out at John in the water. The water was up to his waste and he was looking at the man approaching him for the next baptism. That man was Jesus.
I sat up a little taller to take it all in. Elizabeth grasped my hand and we both lifted our hearts in prayer to God. Jesus walked slowly out to John, his dry, dusty garments were now weighted down with the water that gently pooled around him.
John seemed a little nervous, but Jesus assured him with his smile.
I squeezed Elizabeth’s hand in anticipation. Is this the moment we had talked about all those years ago when our babies toddled around our legs? Had the time arrived?
John poured the water over my son. His hair flattened to his head and water dripped down his cheeks. In his usual way, he smiled a wide smile that revealed a deep joy. And then, the milling crowd fell silent and still.
Elizabeth and I stood up and gasped. Our eyes were heavenward and out of the sky the spirit of God descended over my son. My cousin and I held on to each other and the voice of God pierced through the silence: “This is my beloved son. Listen to him.”
A stunned silence rested on the crowd and on John. Jesus’ face was turned upward and his eyes were closed. I could hear the water as it flowed around rocks and pebbles and the birds chirped their happy tune.
Then Jesus walked out of the water and over to me. Our eyes met with understanding. We had spent many nights discussing what was to come. This was the sign we had been waiting for. My son came over to me and we embraced. Then we exchanged a knowing glance and he turned and walked away toward the desert.
I did not know how long he’d be gone, but I knew he was led by the Spirit of God.
I spent of rest of the afternoon sitting by the river with Elizabeth while John preached to his followers. We all understood that with my son’s baptism, everything had changed.
The sun began to dip low onto the horizon and cast deep shadows over the water. People began to gather their belongings and dust themselves off to go home.
I said my goodbyes to John and Elizabeth and as the sun set behind me, I walked home alone.
Ahead of me I could hear the traces of a conversation and shouts of children still at play. Beside me were the dry and dusty bushes and grasses and the sound of the night time crickets.
My thoughts were with my son and my heart in prayer when suddenly, ugly and tormented figures began to leap at me from out of the bushes. Their eyes seethed with hate for me as they tried to tear at my clothing. But they could not touch me.
My heart raced a little and my steps quickened, but I got home safely. I rushed in the house and closed the door behind me. I stood there with my back to the door, my hand still on the latch. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. The words of my God echoed in my mind: “This is my beloved son…”
Already I missed Jesus and our usual nightly routine. I said my prayers alone and proceeded to my room. The moon was visible out of the window near my bed and its silver light blanketed my room. I smiled to think that just as I fell asleep resting in the Lord’s light, so did my son.