Baptism . . . saves you now—not because it removes dirt from your body but because it is the mark of a good conscience toward God. – 1 Peter 3:21 (CEB)
The seven other weeklong retreat participants were strangers to me when we arrived on Monday. The retreat leader, a friend I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic, skillfully created a container for us to dive into making meaningful connections. Right away, it was evident that all of us were navigating significant transitions in our respective lives: employment, housing, relationships, purpose, and our very selves.
Our third day we hiked to a waterfall. On our way there, the leader invited us to consider what we wanted to leave behind in the churning waters. We all named deeply vulnerable and critical obstacles preventing us from being whole and well: imposter syndrome, savior complex, self-doubt, distrusting intuition, and other such barriers to our fullest selves.
On our penultimate day, we walked a trail alongside the waving ocean on the beach. On our way there, we shared what we wanted to take with us. Waters fell from my eyes as I individually named the things each former stranger helped me realize I needed: authenticity, rootedness, bravery, vulnerability, steadfastness, attentiveness, purpose, and inner power.
I encourage you to engage in a similar exercise the next time you’re near moving waters: actual waterfalls, streams, rain, shower, car wash, dishwater, or even tears. What do you need to leave behind that’s getting in the way of your wholeness? What do you want to keep cultivating to bring your consciousness toward God?
Wash over us, refreshing God, and clear out that which does not draw us closer to you. Fill us to overflowing with your creative goodness. Amen.
The Rev. Phiwa Langeni is the Ambassador for Innovation & Engagement of the United Church of Christ. They are also the Founder of Salus Center, the only LGBTQ resource and community center in Lansing, MI.