There’s something about a gate, an entryway, a threshold between two places. This one was in the Idaho Botanical Gardens just outside Boise in 2005. I don’t know if this stunning gate actually opened or whether it was there just to suggest that gate to something whimsical, almost magical—to Narnia or Middle Earth or Joy Chant’s Vandarei. In the gardens, you come through this gate (actually around) this gate from the dry, barren, almost desert heat of the hills above the Boise River to this beautiful green garden feeling like you have entered some place very different.
A gate is a physical marking of a threshold where one moves from one place to another. That was the wardrobe in the Narnia series. But, there are other “gates” we experience when we move from one state of being to another. I recently read a description of the immersion rite for converts to Judaism. I had never understood Christian baptism so well as the description by Rabbi Maurice Lamm. (See My Jewish Learning.com, search for “Why Immerse in the Mikveh?”) A convert is to be entirely immerse so as to arise from the waters taking one’s first breath as a new person. The key, of course, is to live differently afterward, to give the spirit room within.
We can walk through “magical” gates that take us to some place different, but we aren’t different. Baptism is a gate that takes us to a new existence because we, or for infants, those bringing us to baptism, want us to live differently, to enter a new and “greener” life.