Every morning when I drop Sabine off at school, which is at our church, she likes to first go to “Big Church,” the historic sanctuary, and then “Little Church,” the contemporary worship space where we have kids service. I cherish these quiet times with her, when the lights are off in both sanctuary spaces, and they are only lit by candlelight and the pooling colors cast on the floor from the stained glass above. She always likes to pretend to be “Father David” and instructs me to sit in the first pew, while she walks up to the choir stall and clambers up to the pulpit. She cannot see over the top of it, but she doesn’t care. She tells me “stories” from her post, and I listen. Then she likes to pretend to baptize me at the stone font where she was baptized.
One morning when she ran to the door of Little Church, we opened the door and startled a bearded, disheveled man who looked like he could have been homeless and who sat in the far corner of the space at the piano bench. I told him it was okay, to please sit back down, that we were just coming to sit for a moment. He did, we entered, and the door shut behind us. It was utterly silent and dark, but there was light falling on the man in the corner. Then he started playing. He was phenomenal. An absolutely brilliant pianist. He struck and stroked the keys and it filled the space with such richness from that grand piano. It was overwhelming the beauty of the sound.
Then Sabine asked me to kneel down at a little table, her makeshift baptismal font, and she took her little hands and started stroking them over my face and hair. I closed my eyes, and she said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.” I opened my eyes, and she was off, running like the two-year-old she truly is. But for a moment, we were hanging in this timeless space. She the priestess, me on my knees begging for blessing, and the homeless man carrying us in song.
As a postscript, the pianist is Roger, a member of our community who has permission to practice his skills. He lives in the woods in town, is classically trained, and plays with and for the Church at various events.