In packing up my things, I found a floppy, bright red binder with my name on the front. Over the years, I've found and lost this binder. It was given to me when I was baptized on April 16, 2000. It's astonishing to me that this was more than ten years ago, and that I was only twelve years old. I look at the picture included in the folder and barely recognize the girl with the tilted head, long blond hair, and bright green, patch-covered Girl Scout vest who is standing all the way in the back. There were ten of us in that Pastor's Class, and of the ten, only three of us continue to attend this church regularly with our families.
That day was one of the happiest in my life. I remember being dunked under, and then coming up and wanting to see the silver dove that hangs above the baptistery, but not being able to because I didn't have my glasses on. Later that day, I went to my brother's soccer game and swung on the playground, smiling from ear to ear and having no idea why.
But more than the smiles, more than anything else, I remember the words that were spoken to me that day, which are captured forever on the page thoughtfully included in my bright red binder. The reminder to read the Bible rings in my ear to this day.
I'd forgotten the last paragraph, though, and it seems, in a way, almost the perfect send-off, because the hope of my pastor is the hope that I have for myself as I go off to seminary. He wrote, those ten years ago:
"May you continue to hone your skills as a reader and as a musician, seeking always to offer the gifts of your intellect and imagination and musicianship in the service of our Lord and Savior."
And this simple hope is exactly what I want to achieve.