The Sooner The Better, Rainy Day Halloween Rainy Night, The Ice Came By, The Snow Came By, A Preachers Decision, A Permit To Baptize & A Different Kind Of Foot Washing, Preaching Snakes Into Heaven

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

As far back as I can remember, I can remember my dad Baptizing New Christians in the creeks, the rivers and the lakes. Any body of water would do when the time was right for a baptizing. And for the Baptist People, that being the people from whence I came, it was the sooner the better after you “Got Right With The Lord”.

For those of us who believe the sacred rite of baptiziusm should be conducted as soon as possible, it creates an unusual set of circumstances when it comes to time frames. In the Baptist Church, you don’t have new converts every Sunday. It’s only when the time is right and the Holy Spirit walks amongst the  sinners, and then, and only then,  it’s time for someone to “Get Right With The Lord”.

It’s difficult for the Baptist Churches to know well in advance when a baptizusm needs to take place. Like I said, for most folks, the sooner the better. I can only recall on one occasion where “The Sooner The Better” rule of baptizusm was overturned. Not only overturned, but was done so in such an absolute authoritarian fashion that  discussion was stifled.  

It’d been a particularly cold and harsh winter there in downtown Toto. It seemed to have snowed every day that winter, with never a thaw in between. The bad weather started on Halloween morning about 4 AM. The morning daylight came into a cold and steady rain. By 6:30 in the PM of that day the steady all day rain was soaking little Trick or Treat boys like BobbyRay to the bone. Yet when you’re 12 years old, ya Trick or Treat come hell or high water. And that night, that night, the water was getting high. It continued to rain for three more days.

9 inches of rain fell from the sky over Downtown Toto in a 3½ day span. Given time and the steady pace of the rainfall, there was very little run off of the rainwater. It soaked deep into the Indiana sand. All of a sudden it stopped. The rain stopped as suddenly as if the faucet had been turned off. Then the cold, cold icy  air from the north rolled across the flat lands of northern Indiana. At that time, we had no way of knowing  it was the very early start of “One Of Those Indiana Winters”.

Seemed as though the rain had hardly stopped and the ice began to form on whatever water left standing on top of the ground. And let me tell ya, there was water all over the place. The standing water from over 3 days of rain left puddles everywhere. Actually they were more like baby lakes than puddles. By morning, the baby lakes were all frozen solid. Wherever ya could see the dirt, well that dirt was frozen just as solid as the baby lakes. No one had seen all this bad weather coming our way. 

We didn’t have weather radar then. I don’t think we even had UHF Television. We didn’t have local weather forecasters on Television that’s for sure. Local weather forecasting was by Weather Rock. Ever household had a “Weather Rock”. Some had ‘em in the front yard, some in the back, but we all had ‘em. They worked very well for very short term weather forecasting, 5 minutes to an hour, they were extremely accurate.

When the Weather Rock was white in the morning, it had snowed at night. If the Weather Rock started turning white during the day, it was snowing during the day.  If ya touched the Weather Rock and it was wet, it was now or shortly before had been raining. If hot, it was sunny. Like I said, the Weather Rock worked well for the short term forecast. Some people, who could not afford the purchase,  used their Weather Rock in place of the Old Farmer’s Almanac to plant their gardens and make other decisions in their daily lives. I forgot how they worked out that “sign of the moon” stuff with the Weather Rock, but they did.

Time marched on, and  the Weather Rock was soon doomed to be replaced by advancing technology. One seldom sees, or even hears of Weather Rocks any more. A precious few have been preserved in museums around the country. They’re usually displayed in the museums alongside stuff like, telephones with chords, typewriting machines, calculators made of wood, computers without mouse or memory, Bata Max, pencils, and electric forks.

The cold air came by and stayed day after day after day. The cold air and the accompanying wind drove the ice into the ground. A ground saturated with 9 inches of rain. And so it froze. As the frost line continued to push deeper into the soil of Starke County the worst was yet to come. Fourteen days of the coldest recorded temperature for November ever in northern Indiana. That ensured the frost line would both set records for depth as well as volume of frozen water pipes and lines. When everyone thought the weather couldn’t get any worse, the snow came by.

By the 1st day of December that year, there was never any question of a White Christmas.  The question was not if white, rather how deep the white.  24” level snow, I measured by yardstick, on the ground that Christmas Eve, when Mama sent me outside the back door to bring back some new fallen snow for a special Christmas Eve treat. “Snow Cream  A La Mama Style” And to this very day, I remember the taste of the Christmas Eve Snow Cream. Whenever there was a White Christmas, there was always the Snow Cream of Christmas Eve. Special little gifts from God are things you remember forever. Snow Cream is such a remembrance.

Christmas came on a Tuesday that year, and the following Sunday at church, before the start of a new year, two sinners got saved. There was a great deal of rejoicing and praising  to the Lord  within  the congregation.  Two new souls had joined the Christian Army. What made the event even more electrifying was the fact, the two  new converts were husband and wife. It was when someone said “We’ll have to use saws to cut the ice”. My father, for the first time in my young memory, spoke with absolute dictatorial  authority that left no room for discussion.

He simply said “ No, we will not baptize today, nor  will we baptize  tomorrow. The river ice is at least a foot thick, or maybe more so. It’s below zero° right now and there’s no prospect of a break in this cold weather. We will baptize again when the spring time comes back to Starke County. For those of you that may want to disagree with what I’ve said here. I will only say this once,  and we’ll not discuss it and further. I truly believe in my heart that should this husband and wife die before we can baptize ‘em in the springtime, with open arms, God will say to them both, WELCOME HOME MY CHILDREN.”My dad got lots of “Amen! Brother Wick”, for that speech.

There was no discussion on what my dad had to say that Sunday Morning between Christmas and New Years, there in 1956. Then a whole bunch of people went to our house for Sunday Dinner that same afternoon. While the women cooked the food, the men sat around the living room and talked about bible stuff. But nobody said anything about baptizing. Nineteen years later, I asked my dad what made him decide to delay the baptizusm that winter day?

He just smiled and said “BobbyRay, I do believe if John The Baptist had to use the Yellow River in Starke County, Indiana to Baptize Jesus, he’d not have done so in the middle of winter. Neither did I.” My dad had a little smile on his face when he gave me that answer. It was almost as if he knew someday, someday in the future, when I grew up, I’d ask the question, and so I’d asked question. Now that little smile, that little smile told me both my dad and Jesus were both real comfortable with his decision.

It was coming from those kinda childhood memories, that I was so appalled to read that the National Park
Service had attempted to require a 48 hr advance notice  in order to hold a baptism ceremony on any property controlled by the National Park Service. The Park Service backed off, but only after a member of the U.S. House of Representatives asked, in writing,  if they were attempting to limit the number of people being baptized in National Parks?

This attempt by the National Park Service to crack down on public expressions of the Christian Faith is an ongoing event. It’s happened before, and will happen again.  All the while the Federal Government has been embracing public expressions of the Islamic Faith at every opportunity.  And many times these Islamic opportunities are at taxpayer expense.

Foot baths are being installed at Universities across the country. Foot baths so Muslim students can wash their feet before their five times-a-day prayers. An example at only one school, the University of Michigan-Dearborn, spent $25,000.00 to install foot washing stations in restrooms. The University then justified the expense as a health and safety issue, not religion.  Some of the major airports in the country have spent public tax dollars to provide foot-washing basins for Muslim taxi drivers. Yeah, I’m telling ya, foot washing basins for Muslims.  San Francisco International Airport even renovated a building to create a place of worship for Muslim workers. Airport officials declined to reveal how much tax money was spent, but a spokesman said they just wanted to maintain “a good relationship with ground transportation providers.”  

It just seems kinda quare to me to think about washing your feet 5 times a day in order to pray.  Always thought praying was in your heart, not in your toes. Guess when it comes down to it, I could pray just as well with dirty feet. ‘Course when I was a little hillbilly boy, we went bare footed  all summer long, so maybe we could have used 5 time a day foot washings.

  That reminds me, don’t know if I ever told ya about when we were kids and I held the kid church most every day. We had foot washings. I was the preacher for the foot washings as well as the regular church and also all the funerals. And the Lord knows we had a lot of funerals. We’d look for things that needed a funeral. Everything that died on the roads of Toto, everything that died from the BB Guns of Toto, everything that died from natural causes. We had a funeral for ‘em all. And they all went to heaven. “Cause I never preached anything into hell. Even snakes got preached into heaven, ‘cause we believed that God had a job for even the snakes.  They all just got a bad reputation with that apple in the garden and all. So I preached ‘em into heaven even if I didn’t like ‘em. And I don’t like spiders and snakes. But the dead one got preached into heaven anyways.

So there ya are. The Federal  Government doing the Muslim Faith thing, and also  attempting to limit  the Christian Faith at the same time. Pretty soon ya can’t even have a good baptizing in the winter time, unless you can find someone to cut thru both the river  ice and the red tape.

This whole conversation reminds me of something John Adams once wrote: “Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion.” John Adams was right then, still right now.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From The EastWing, The Sooner The Better, Rainy Day Halloween Rainy Night, The Ice Came By, The Snow Came By, A Preachers Decision,  A Permit To Baptize & A Different Kind Of Foot Washing, Preaching Snakes Into Heaven

I Wish You Well,