I prayed, all unafraid (as we're inclined to do), I do not need a handsome man but let him be like You; I do not need one big and strong nor yet so very tall, nor need he be some genius, or wealthy, Lord, at all; but let his head be high, dear God, and let his eye be clear, his shoulders straight, whate'er his state, whate'er his earthly sphere; and let his face have character, a ruggedness of soul, and let his whole life show, dear God, a singleness of goal; then when he comes (as he will come) with quiet eyes aglow, I'll understand that he's the man I prayed for long ago. - Ruth Bell Graham
Charles Franey, as we have seen, was born in 1859. At that time nearly everybody in Canada or the United States lived on a farm, or got his living from one: You went to school for a few years, learned how to divide 1247 by 13, how to write a fair hand, and how to spell "niece" and "either." If you could construe a sentence, knew where Madagascar lay or who Shakespeare and Columbus were, so much the better. Then, by the time you were sixteen, you were ready for a little courtin', knowing that as soon as you popped the question, either her old man or yours would fence off the north forty and cut out a good bull and a few cows from the herd: The neighbors would come and build you some sort of house and barn, dance at your wedding, and shivaree you later in the evening while you were on the featherbed inside, fumbling with the buttons on the bride's new flannel nightgown.
Can you imagine the hopelessness of trying to live a spiritual life when you're secretly looking up at the skies not for illumination or direction but to gauge, miserably, the odds of rain? Can you imagine how discouraging it was for me to live in fear of weather, of drizzle or downpour? Because Christianity is about water: "Everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." It's about baptism, for God's sake. It's about full immersion, about falling into something elementary and wet. Most of what we do in worldly life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under. But in baptism, in lakes and rain and tanks and fonts, you agree to do something that's a little sloppy because at the same time it's also holy, and absurd. It's about surrender, giving in to all those things we can't control; it's a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched.