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Longing for a Story Worth Initiating Into: Intertwine’s First Baptism

Ritual is a shared piece of our human experience. For thousands of years, we, as a species, have been marking moments and weaving our lives into larger stories through ceremonial action and word. Rituals often mark an initiation — an entering into a story or trajectory of life. Yet, if we’re initiated into anything these days, it’s into being heroic consumers of “goods” or commodified “experiences.” This initiation into consumption leaves us and the planet depleted, hungry for purpose and significant connection.

What do we do with this overwhelming lack of meaningful ritual in our individual and collective lives? Where are the stories worthy of being initiated into?

These are questions that Intertwine is asking.

Intertwine is a community that gathers around the questions of what it means to be human and how to be that well. We make room for sharing our stories — our lived experiences — and for exploring the collected stories of our species over the millennia. Together, we seeking stories worth being initiated into — stories that nourish lives of purpose, healing and connection.

Intertwine recognize a diverse ecosystem is a healthy one, so we make room for the diversity of personal stories and for the diverse spiritual stories that we connect and find meaning with. That said, many of us within Intertwine have an experience of being raised in the Judeo-Christian story. While we’ve been disillusioned (even appalled) by many teachings/ideals/actions labeled “Christian” (particularly those motivated by fear — maybe call it “Christian monoculture”), many of us are still seeking and sensing a compelling story/way of being human worth being initiated into somewhere at the roots of this tradition. Maybe the story of Jesus — the ancient wisdom teacher who disrupted corrupt systems of power through a life of compassion, healing and creativity — could be that story/trajectory for us.

At our recent gathering, Crossing the Threshold: Moments and Rituals of Transformation, we explored our lack and longing for ritual and initiation. And, with water harvested from the Mississippi River nearby, we baptized Baby Silas. Words and commitments were made by the community and his parents, as he was ritually washed — drown and reborn — into a life of love and nonviolence nourished by a Power beyond him/ourselves. Here are the words we shared:

*** Note: It’s worth saying again, Intertwine is a spiritual community that honors its spiritual diversity. While many of us are rooted/seeking to be rooted in the Judeo-Christian story, Intertwine make room for a diversity of traditions and expressions of Perennial Wisdom to be engaged and explored. We invite Intertwiners to bring rituals and initiation practices that their lives are rooted in to the community, so that we may grow into more whole and healthy individuals and system.

Thank you, Water!

A baptismal introduction — what this ritual and story is about…

Silas, we have a story that is saturated with creative energy and love.

(Pour water…)

The story of our Judeo-Christian spirituality begins with God, the Source of life, the Father-Mother of the Cosmos, sending God’s breath over the watery deep of formless chaos, and that breath brings for life and being.

Water, in our stories, is a symbol of both life and death. It is on dry ground that the Israelites, led by Miriam and Moses, cross the Red Sea being birthed into new freedom, while Pharaoh and his armies are swallowed up by the waters in their pursuit.

It is water and the big fish that swallow up Jonah in his attempt to avoid his calling to his hero’s journey. They become instruments moving him beyond his refusing the call and in his awakening to love and grace that can move us beyond blind hatred of the “other” and our entrenchment in “an eye for an eye” thinking.

And we have this story of Jesus, being baptized by John the Baptist. A symbolic death of drowning and birth to a new life of compassion and non-violence. Amidst a culture burdened by suspicion and hate, yet thirsty for love and healing, Jesus and his followers become living water in the way they live their lives.

Here, in Minnesota, near the waters of the Mississippi, the water we drink and wash in, the water that sustains the lives of the Dakota people who lived here before us. These waters sustain their and our lives now. Here we find ourselves thirsty and amidst people and land and even the water itself that is thirsty for people like you, Silas, and us, to be living and healing water in how we conduct our lives.

The gown his great-grandmother made.

Silas, your baptism is an invitation to die to those fear-filled and selfish stories and thoughts that would dry out you and the world around you. Your baptism is a promise, that this God, this Source of our being, is an endless stream of clear and living water. And when you forget, or when you suffer and the experience of thirst creeps in, you have something to return to — a living water that will provide for you what you need. You have a Source that can return you to health and strengthen you on your journey.

May this baptism be a reminder, that we can experience the quenching of our thirst for love and purpose, and that we come to know this through our participation in intentional community and in rooting and intertwining our lives into the deep stores of Wisdom — in that Mystery that grounds our being.

Inviting commitment from family, godparents and community

(Light candle…)

Parents, Etta, and Godparents, you have a special role in Silas’ life. You’re called to nourish his life by the sharing of your love and experience. Be listeners and encouragers of Silas in his journey. Invite him into the depth of the Christian story, as well as the diverse language and expression of Wisdom from other traditions and stories that are feeding you. Share with him your stories — be like a candle that is both light, and the illumination of our darkness, that he would know he need not hide, but that love has room for the fullness of our humanity. Help him to be living water for the world.

Rooted in community.

And you, Intertwine community, you heroes on your journeys, part of your journey is to love and support one another, sharing your stories and experiences, being active in loving service and care through your particular gifts, and digging deep and sharing from the diversity of Wisdom’s voice. Will you be a family and community of love for Silas? If so, please share in this response:

Silas, we will intertwine our roots with yours. We will help nourish you through love, through sharing our stories and the stories of the Mystery, and through curiosity, support and encouragement. Grow with us in love and wonder.

Baptism ritual

Silas Robert, I baptize you…

(Water over Silas…) In the name of God, Source and Ground of our Being, the Mystery of Love and energy at work in existence.

Silas’ grandpa got to do the honor.

(Water over Silas…) In the name of Jesus who showed us the Christ — a way of being human that has moved beyond fear and fully into love. Jesus who is Living water for us, giving freely of his life for others and trusting that he will be filled by the endless Source. He is a calling for us to become living water ourselves, heroes in loving action for the sake of the world.

(Water over Silas…) And in the name of the Spirit, the Wisdom that guides and connects us all, sustaining us on our journey of letting go of our illusions of separation, awakening us to our rootedness in Love. The Spirit that speaks in the tongues of all living beings and fills us with a fiery and uncontainable love.

(Dry with towel and make sign of cross on forehead…) Silas, baptized Child of God, you are a light and living water to the world. May you be nourished by the Source through Wisdom, story, and community.

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