the polar bear club

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I went home last weekend to see my dad baptize my little brother in the frozen river next to our house. It was frigid outside, but they both were so brave and didn't complain a bit. My auntie wrote this sweet reflection, and I thought I'd share her words.
Weather: mid-winter, 34 degrees, but more like 10 degrees with the icy wind, snow a few inches deep, river hasn't frozen solid, but the banks are ice.
Porter made the decision (all by himself) to be baptized in the river.
John: optimistic, cheerful, supportive.
So down to the icy water's edge we all trekked.
Porter took off his jacket and was standing there shivering in his short sleeved whites and sneakers, posing for a few quick pictures in the whipping wind.
A nervous smile through the chattering teeth. No signs of turning back on this boy's face. Something about when it's your decision, you stick to it.
We all hushed as the Spirit settled on the group.
John strongly took Porter's hand and led him to the edge. John quickly got in, water to his thighs, showing absolutely no shock at the temperature of the water.
He reached for Porter and Porter got right in, no hesitations, and no fear...albeit a little stiffening...
John quickly said the words, and then dunked Porter right in. He pulled Porter out of that water and onto the bank in almost one motion, a look of utter shock on Porter's red face.
Julie rushed Porter into the ice fishing tent they had borrowed to get his wet clothes off and start warming him up.
Meanwhile, John did a very curious thing: after lifting Porter out, he lay back into the icy water himself, up to his neck. Then up and out to the tent.
I've wondered why he would do that. I didn't ask him why, but I believe he wanted to feel what Porter was feeling, so he could relate more closely to what Porter had just been through.
When Porter came back to the house, I asked him if he knew that his dad had dunked himself, too. He was surprised. John hadn't even mentioned it. I would've gone right into the tent, shivering and bragging to my kid that I knew exactly how he was feeling, etc. etc.
Not John.
I asked Porter how he felt. He said his temples had hurt a lot, but he smiled while he related the experience.
How in the world can such optimism and strength be packed into one scrawny little 8-year-old boy?
Much to do with an optimistic, strong father such as John.
John is a stellar example to us all, I think. Haven't you all noticed that he never complains? I'm sure he has his own hardships; not everything comes easily to him. But his constancy and optimism is remarkable.
What joy I felt yesterday. After watching their attitudes, their faithfulness, and their happiness, I know that I should be more cheerful about doing hard things. Hard things are just a part of life. But hard things make us strong.
I thought back on our "fathers" a few generations back who spent hours upon end walking through the same sort of icy waters to help weaker people across the river. Out of love.


  1. Wow, I've never heard of baptisms in cold water like that. What a brave/awesome little boy. And his father?! Wow, what a dad. That's so cool that they did this. I love it :)


  2. this is seriously the sweetest thing. your sweet little brother and strong father. your family is where it is at miss lady. i never understood the connection you had with them while we were in Vienna. but now I do and it is one of the things that I most admire about you.

    love you.

  3. Woah that's brave! I would never do that. Looks way too cold!

  4. This is my favorite thing on your blog to date.

  5. the sweetest thing ever. a big congratulations to your little brother. how special to do it outside, and to push through the cold :)
    xo TJ

  6. This is nice--I'm glad you shared what she wrote.