response and answer

baptism

Robin L. Chandler, 2018

When I visit or talk with my father these days, the conversation turns to our shared stories. Several times he has with joy and relief told his version of a story about a day when I was three years old. Here is my version. Perhaps it was the call of the wild, but when my dog escaped, I followed, determined to bring her back home. Too young to venture outside my yard alone, but that fact never occurred to me.  Single-minded, with purpose, I tracked my dog; when she crossed the creek, I walked into the water, unaware of the coming baptism. In a new world where the rules of gravity and locomotion no longer applied, my feet lost contact with the ground. Possessing no vocabulary to describe my new emotions, my grown self now describes the situation: panic flirted with me, but an increasing sense of calm flooded my body. Water felt like home, not enigma. I moved my arms and legs and reached the shore where my dog looked on; I grasped her collar and we began the walk home, my clothes completely soaked. Closer, fire engines wailed and police cars flashed. Neighbors ran excitedly in all directions looking for something. My frantic mother was yelling at my distraught father. I didn’t understand what was going on. Walking up to my speechless parents, I said, “I got my dog.” Suddenly strong emotions of happiness came from my parents. Once grown, I came to understand that adults thought I was lucky; they were probably right. But somewhere deep inside, some part of me understood my life’s journey had begun.

“Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the misermerman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps…”

“Only in the heart of the quickest perils; only within the eddyings of his angry flukes; only on the profound unbounded sea, can the fully invested whale be truly and livingly found out.”

Herman MelvilleMoby Dick

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