The woman stood with her left foot on the crimson carpet and her right foot on the first wooden step. Her hands were white-knuckled, side by side, grasping onto the smooth polished railing. Her spine felt like a metal pole, and the natural pulse of her body vibrated every nerve down her spine with each hurried breath.
Her pastor’s words rang like an alarm clock from the stage, signifying that it was her time to wake up. She had an image of slamming his nose to make the noise stop, and she quickly reprimanded herself. He was a good man, but he expected too much. She eyed the baptismal. What did she think she was doing?
She wore a white robe over her gym clothes, but she wished she were wearing a full-bodied scuba suit. She could see the dirt smeared all over her skin and could feel the thick layers of foul crust covering her hands and feet. Years of walking in the mud of this world and carrying the grime of her life had left their mark.
The filth she wore crinkled into dust on the crimson carpet around her left foot. She followed the filthy path to the door that opened into the parking lot. Her purse sat patiently on a velvet cushioned chair next to the door. The purse was nothing special to her, yet it guarded the pieces that made up her life – her driver’s license, credit cards, cell phone and the keys to her car and house all waited to be reclaimed.
Her hands released the railing ready to retrace her steps, but her right foot wouldn’t budge from the wooden step. The woman almost lost her footing, and she had to grab hold of the railing again. Her left foot effortlessly held the weight of her fall. Her right foot stayed fastened to the wooden step. She was able to balance her body once more. She closed her eyes and tried to relax the quiver of her veins.
The ringing of her pastor’s voice was replaced with worship music. The guitar sang praises to the Creator, and the drums trembled a beat to His almighty. Indistinct voices could be heard, and they all created a soft hum that hushed the apprehension of her mind. Her hands relaxed their grip on the railing, and the weight of her body moved forward to her right foot. She felt her left foot lose its strength, and the tension in her back released. A breath from within saturated the pores of her skin, and the dirt that covered her lost its hold and fell to the ground.
The woman opened her eyes to see the stained floor, but the crimson carpet bled over the brown, and the blemished path could no longer be seen. A verse her pastor had given her filled her mind, and his confident words cleared a new path toward the baptismal. She heard her name echoing from all corners of the church, and saw her pastor gesture that it was time.
The wooden step supported her right foot as it pulled the left foot off of the crimson carpet. The left foot landed insecurely on the next step, and the pastor’s voice continued to draw her near, whispering a promise.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22 NIV).