Last week, Paul baptized the girls in the Deschutes River. Friends and family witnessed the sacred proclamations made by our daughters.
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Rituals, when done right, help us tap into our imaginations. They help our minds and hearts to leap beyond our abilities. Sacred bonds and sacred vows invite the supernatural to enliven our lives with legend and myth. They open the way for miracles. They burst limits of endurance. They stretch boundaries.

Death to our old selves. Repentance. Resurrection and a new life. Is there any ritual more beautiful than this one?

Rituals are out of vogue. Our fragmented culture corresponds with our fragmented rituals. Get a roomful of people and ask them about a ritual they hold sacred; no two people will give the same answer — perhaps they’ll mention baptism or communion, but they will each do it differently. Many won’t take part in any of those things — their sacred rituals are dinner around the table or a giving of gifts. I’m not bemoaning the fact, I’m recognizing it.

In a fragmented culture, everything’s okay. The only thing not allowed are opinions about how everyone should do it. Religious rituals cater to personal preference — like us, baptizing our own children without any ordained authority.

Yet, I wonder what it means.The rise and fall of civilizations is the nature of the world since the beginning of history. I realize baptizing our own children in the river means we no longer feel much solidarity in a larger group. If you take a moment to meditate, you can feel the creaking and crumbling of civilization about to fall. This personal path we follow as a family is like a raft we’re leaping to from a ship that’s sinking.

Many people have done this before — leaping from a dying ship (civilization). Some people have laid the groundwork for something new to build (before it, too, crumbles). Even with this knowledge, I hope we’re laying the groundwork for something lasting. I hope the path we follow leads to new life.

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