God Changes His Mind

from Peter Copley

Full-immersion baptism is not an Ananda practice. Three days after I came to the temple for the first time, God decided to try it on me anyway to see if it might do some good.

I was repairing the tin roof of a houseboat moored on the Willamette River, a quarter of a mile above the falls. The roof was steep and slick, and I wasn’t dressed right for the job. I needed flexible shoes with good traction. Instead, I was up there in my heavy construction boots.

It was spring and the river was running hard, fast, and high, with a strong undertow pulling toward the falls. Just two weeks earlier, one of the houseboats had been ripped from its moorings and was barely saved from going down those falls.

I remember being on the roof, leaning over to nail down the next piece of tin sheeting. Then I was stretched full out in the air, about to do a massive belly flop into the river in the four feet of space between the rafts to which the houseboats are lashed. Even that four feet was crowded with pillars and guy wires.

Turned out it didn’t matter, because I never did that belly flop. The next thing that happened was me pulling myself up onto the raft of the neighboring houseboat—with no bruises, cuts, or broken bones. To make it even more odd, I had been going down belly first, but as I came out of the water I noticed that the sides and front of my upper body were dry, except for where I had brushed against the raft as I climbed out.

I’m a big man: 6’3”, 220 pounds. The roof I fell from was at least fifteen feet above the river. I was wearing a fully loaded tool belt and, as I mentioned, my heavy construction boots, plus a wool jacket. All my tools, the cell phone from my pocket, and the glasses from my face were sucked into the water. But my chest didn’t even get wet.

I guess God decided that, at least for me, full-immersion baptism wasn’t needed after all.