When I taught Baptism prep classes to parents and godparents way back when, part of my job was to relate the physical elements of the sacraments to the spiritual gifts. God works through the physical as a means of bestowing grace. I find this a comfort, a reassurance, a reminder of God in the everyday objects such as water, wine, oil and touch as transmitters of a grace beyond our comprehension. Here's a little excerpt from my forthcoming novel:
“How we doin?
“Behind by four. But there’s time. Ohh!! Make that six.”
Jimmy’s face is pointed toward the television. No reaction to the shot. He holds the coke can in his hand. He’s not watching the game. He can’t. They’re way beyond basketball games in search of common ground. His right hand is getting jittery; the left is tucked under his thigh.
“Need a smoke.”
Jimmy goes through the kitchen to smoke on the back porch. First stop is the refrigerator to grab a beer. The long cold drink rushes down his throat, wave after wonderful wave. It hits his belly in a splash, immediately releasing its magic. There’s his old friend. Now he can relax, get his hands steady. He tosses the bottle cap toward the metal can. It pings and misses. He leaves it in the mud.
It’s dark. He turns right, to the aurora of street lamps along Forest Park Drive, to the diluted light pushing its way through the trees that have arbored this area for generations. Wind whips up under his shirt and slaps his back. Jimmy steps out from the awning. A smoldering cigarette in one hand, an empty beer bottle in the other, he raises his arms over his head breathing in the cold, clear, wet dirt smell. His upturned face receives the sharp needles of rain. A baptism.
The wind and rain pick up. A crackle of light breaks blue deep into Forest Park. Thunder reverberates his thin frame, tolling out the bell of him. Somewhere in there, somewhere in here, I still am. I still am.