“The Water Full of Love”: Where Should We Sprinkle it?
A word about God’s love from Mary Robinson
I served as a pediatric chaplain at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly 30 years. I learned so much from my young patients as they modeled frankness and courage. They also taught me to always use the language of the youngest person in the room in all conversations, which was for me a new dimension of inclusive language!
When asked to perform a baptism in the hospital setting, I would explain that I had “some very special water. Not ordinary water for drinking or taking a bath, but special water full of God’s love for you.” I might say, “When we baptize, we take a little bit of that special water full of God’s love and sprinkle it somewhere on our body. I wonder where you would like to sprinkle God’s love today? What part of you needs some of God’s love today?” Often the child pointed to a part of their body that was sick, or the location of their surgery, or their heart. Sometimes the child would ask if we could put some of the water full of love on their mother, or their teddy bear too. And of course, we did, together. It was nearly always a sacramental moment in a new and meaningful way.
After I recited the official baptism words, and the Lord’s Prayer, I would offer this prayer:
“Thank you God for this child, a very special person named ______.
When s/he is afraid, comfort her.
When _____ is lonely, be her friend.
When _____ is worried, let her speak about it.
Help _____ know that the waters of baptism are filled with God’s love, and our love for her, now and forever. Amen.
And don’t worry. The love in this kind of water can’t be washed off. It might look like it’s gone, but you can’t wash away God’s love. It is yours now.”
May that prayer be with us all in these days, as well as the wise prayer of Benjamin (photo below), a prayer that sat on my desk all those years. Both still speak to me this morning.