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The Jordan

There was a small lull, a space of minutes between one throng and the next. Some, curious, came only to see John himself, and, if it meant some confessing before the water rained on them, they confessed. They would return to tell the neighbors about his matted hair, the beard, the eyes, the torn clothes - and - how he smelled there in the sun in the Jordan.

Others, curious, but thirsty, came and saw the muscled arm, the strength, the youth the eyes; when they heard, "Repent!", they trembled some and then repented.

But now there was a pause between their curious repentences and John bent down to scratch a bite upon his leg, He straightened slowly, raising his eyes to the sky and clouds, marveling, and waiting in the Jordan.

He saw along the water's edge, Jesus, Mary's son, someone like a cousin, walking a little distance from the ones who followed him. John smiled, for they had grown up together; John smiled and watched as Jesus came to this water's edge; John smiled and wondered what had brought Jesus here this day.

And then, Great God Almighty, and then, both Oath and Prayer, a single cloud moved a fractured space, a single bird curved into a single beam of light, a bird that came to sit on Jesus' shoulder.

John knew; Jesus knew, in that moment no others saw so no others knew.

No others, and there were hundreds in and out; no others, and there were some who waited for some sign; no others, just John and Jesus.

And so it happened, because a single shaft of light illumined a bird's wings.

They, the two of them, had to be,
and were,
in a line reaching from the sky to shore.

They, the two of them, had to be,
and were,
in a line reaching from Jesse to the Jordan.

When each had awakened at dawn that day, neither had known. But now they knew. It seemed like another day, any other day at dawn that day and so, Jesus walked with those who loved him, to see John. Jesus had heard, the world had heard of John, and so Jesus came too, to see and to hear John.

Jesus was impatient, restless, cross - and walked a little space away from those who followed him, breaking the stems of some weeds he had pulled along the way. He did not know where this waiting restlessness was taking him, save that he was coming to the Jordan and to John.

He did not wave, nor shout as he had waved and shouted in his lifetime. He just walked closer to the shore. And then, it happened.

It was his Father's sky,
         His cloud,
         His bird,
         His beam of light.

But John and he alone, saw sky,
   saw cloud,
   saw bird,
   saw beam,
and John and he alone knew, because they were caught in that space of fractured light, John and he knew his time had come. And John's.

And so, You were baptized Christ, You who have come to baptize.

This is what the restless waiting promised, for You know the end before the start. And John knows too.

So it begins, as John holds out his arms to You.


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