Bath of New Direction

“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying…” – Luke 3:21

Rise from the water,
streaming droplets
patter in the stream.

Dust of travel swirls
in ochre ribbons
carried in the current.

Shivers in the sun
from unseen water
leaping from the skin.

Toes gripping at the mud,
legs straining at the bank,
emerging with a tiny slip.

Though newly washed,
the feet once more
wear soil on their soles:

The river silt,
the muddy bank,
the wind-blown dust.

Within a heartbeat
gritty sand alights,
defying wash and washer.

The tunic settles on
the dampened, dirt-streaked
skin, applying sediment anew.

A moment and the bather
is no longer clean, and
we wonder at the bathing’s purpose,

For what repentance
did the bather bring,
and what forgiveness need?

But look: the newly washed
re-sandaled takes another way,
into the wilderness.

A baptism of cleaning?
Not so much. But of direction?
Jesus chose the blessed way.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year C, First Sunday after the Epiphany, the Baptism of Christ.

The image is Baptism of Christ by Mesrop of Khizan, active 1605-1651. Image from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved January 5, 2022]. Original source:,_active_1605_-_1651)_-_The_Baptism_of_Christ_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg.

2 thoughts on “Bath of New Direction

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