Erin was the first to go. I headed around the left side of the baptismal and knelt on a block placed for that purpose. Erin went around the right side of the tank before the congregation, climbed the steps to reach the tank, and took my hand as she stepped down into the water. As she entered the water my thoughts were running wild with a flavor of "DON'T SAY ANYTHING WEIRD!!!" Her statement was read to say, "I am being being baptized to show God taking away my sins in public. I want to tell everybody. I am obaing [sic] God." My stomache tied itself into a tiny ball of yuck while I struggled to remain focused on my girl and our God.
Hoping the small microphone to my right would be able to capture my tiny voice (and thankful that anything came out when I opened my mouth), I asked, "Erin... Do you take Jesus as your Savior?" (Since my racing thoughts were playing with other terms like, "lawfully wedded husband/wife", I was really glad to hear "savior" actually come out of my mouth in the final product.) She indicated that all was good in this area, so we moved on to the big moment for which our friends and family had either gathered in the sanctuary to be with us, or would be in our regular venue an hour later to join us in celebrating.
Erin pinched her nose, and, trusting less in me than in our repeated "rehearsals", fell back into the water. (The kid has been baptized in swimming pools all over our town in the last couple of weeks. She finally determined that goggles would not be necessary.) I said, "I baptize you in the name of the Father... (pause due to a bizarre and wrong-headed choice of words here in a rehearsal that I wish to NOT repeat)... the... Son, and the Holy... (Ghost--- er, not old-school Holl!) Spirit." Whew! I watched her going under thankful that the speaking part of my involvement in this day was over.
Except that she did not go all the way under. As she started to surface with a portion of her hair dry, I told her to snatch a breath and tipped her back under to get that very top portion of her head since this was a baptism by submersion. Again, the very top inch or so of Erin's head was barely above the water line. My only real thought was that a half measure during the symbolic moment when she proclaims her faith publicly just would not do for this child who is very much an all-or-nothing person. No partial submersion, she was going under.
As my girl opened her eyes with her head above the water, I said to her again, "breathe", because she was going, "All the way, Baby." This time her head went almost all the way down and her feet popped up out of the opposite side of the tank with the third and final attempt, and that child was definitely fully submerged along the way. As she came up, I was able to laugh and grin at her without a shred of the self-consciousness that had threatened this precious shared moment with my sweet, youngest child. I kissed her forehead as she was stepping out of the water, and helped her with her towel.
We ducked out a side door with big sister Kate (who was taking the photos) and all three of us cracked up. Erin was dripping, Katie was still snapping pictures, and we all three had to quiet our laughter knowing that we could possibly be heard in the sanctuary where two other baptisms were following Erin's.
We later had the opportunity to see the video feed of the baptism, and laugh hysterically at what really did look a bit like a drowning rather than a baptism because the camera could only see my moments of indecision and the repeated dunking without capturing the underwater laughter of my Erin Elizabeth Lou Lulu Libby Little Bit... but anyone who knows me is well aware that I can only go "All the way", and that no half measures will ever be sufficient.
It was a joy to celebrate with our "old" church family who came to see our girl baptized, and a wonderful time of worship with our "new" church family as the girls and I watched Erin's baptism again via video during worship that included "Mighty To Save" and "From The Inside Out" (songs forever tied in my heart to the past months) in the final service of the venue where our Erin prayed with her Daddy for "Jesus in her heart" mere weeks ago. WHOO-HOO!!!