I had a whole other idea for Flash Fiction Friday, but then I randomly came across the photo at left on Unsplash (where I get all the stock photography I use to illustrate my blog posts) and decided I had a better idea.
Holy Water for Home Use
Yes, it’s free, you can take it. We appreciate it if you leave a donation, of course, but there’s no charge.
Why? Why the donation? Well, everything costs money—oh, you mean the water itself.
You can have a holy water font right in your home, just like at church. You can bless yourself. I’ve blessed the water and you can take it home, touch it to your heart and your forehead and your shoulders every day. Remind yourself of your baptism. It’s a wild world out there, after all. Something cool, something clean before you go out into the dirt, the noise, the temptation around every corner—it’s a nice thought, isn’t it? A reminder of the waters of baptism in which God claimed you for his own.
Bless your wife before you go to bed at night. I’ve never had the pleasure of course, ha ha!, but it must be lovely. I see your ring there—your wife? She’s expecting. Well, congratulations.
In that case, you might like to have some of the water on hand, also. For the baby.
Why? Well, you never know. Things can happen.
I don’t mean to upset you. It’s just that—well, you know, that’s why the water is there. Things can happen. There’s such a thing as emergency baptism—you know about that, certainly. In case you should need to baptize your child. Quickly.
Ghoulish? I wish it were. I wish it were just an old man’s ramblings, son. And look at you, dressed as fine as you are with your expensive phone, you must have a good job and a lovely home. An education. So you don’t need me to tell you. And probably you’ll walk off like so many others before, thinking that you’re too good for such superstitions these days. Your wife and your child will have the best of everything and nothing can happen to them.
I’m old enough to have been called to homes when the mothers were birthing at home and the infants looked fragile. Once I got there too late. The mother’s sister had some holy water on hand, baptized the poor babe before she died. The midwife just aghast, exhausted. You can’t imagine the grief. The mother didn’t want to leave the house for the better part of a month. At least she didn’t have to imagine her child in limbo.
Oh, I’ll grant it’s not a great solution to the problem of babies in hell. No one wants to imagine that. It’s an improvement, at least. And the mother didn’t have to worry. With all that, with having to sleep in the bed where her baby died, her husband having dreamed about holding his little one while he paced on the porch and then never getting to do that—with all that, she could at least believe her baby was in the arms of Jesus and his Mother, if not hers.
This is why people leave the Church? Son, nothing would surprise me. Some people would rather have nothing at all to think about at times like this. Fill your days and nights with everything you can find with that phone so you don’t have to think, or worry, or pray, and hold on to everything you have with both hands rather than let it drop and make room in your hands to cup some of the water. It’s never been easier to grasp than it is now. So much to hold on to, so much harder to let go.
The water is that, too, a reminder that eventually you’ll have to let it all go. Everything. The water is patient. It wears everything down if you wait long enough. Even rock, even bone.
Believe it all or don’t. I don’t take it personally anymore. Before long the water will take me too.
It’s here waiting for you. Stalk off proud and angry if you want, it’ll still be here tomorrow. It was here before you and it’ll be here after you.
A jar, a small bottle, whatever you’ve got.