Rough Water Baptism

Coming this April

Rough Water Baptism is about a dramatic shift in Elise Brinkley’s world. She has grown up in San Francisco, with her brilliant neuroscientist father, and has absorbed from him and from her environment a worldview that insists that the material world is all there is. Her faith in that way of thinking becomes tested. Her life is in some ways perfect, unperturbed by doubt, but she experiences through her friend Joy a sense that there may be something more to this life. Then she is swept up in romance with the handsome and enigmatic Tino.

Tino is not all that he appears to be, however. Elise’s world comes crashing down around her in the space of a few hours, but through the ordeal she comes to embrace a hard-won appreciation that there is a Source outside ourselves — that there is a reason to believe in the good, the true, and the beautiful in our lives.


There is a magical time of day. It is not describable in terms of light registers, nor of tone or color value or luminescence. The time-between-times of sunset, especially at the Pacific coast, can be awesome. Garish, even. But not magical. Early morning-time is when all is made new. Before Elise the water was calm but an early morning calm, rivulets scurrying, heralding the coming day. Brushes of soft pink overhead, remnants of the night’s clouds catching the tentative light to the East.

But this magical sense was turned upside-down for Elise. It seemed to make the pain more intense, not easier. She had longed for break of day, and now that it was here, she longed for return of the night.


“I had this epiphany the other day. I guess I shouldn’t say ‘epiphany’ in this context. Strong mental impression, let’s say. I was painting. One of my realist paintings. A little girl’s face. I was caught up in it. Hours went by. I thought about how hard I was working to freeze something in two dimensions, to render this certain expression you might see flit across a child’s face in just a twinkling of an eye — so fast — one little moment in a stream of continuous moments; one cast of light, one instant of emotional content, one pinpoint of inner beauty in this child. But God does this all the time, in four dimensions, not my two, continuously, and He does it on an infinite number of canvases simultaneously.”


Elise heard a muffled popping sound, like distant gunfire. She turned, alarmed. She was looking toward the south end of the bay and was immediately treated to a vibrant display of fireworks in the sky above the city’s baseball stadium. She remembered talk of the Giants having a shot at the World Series. They must have come through. This unexpected display lifted Elise from her brooding thoughts, to a quiet, inner celebration.


Tino had a deep conviction confirmed by experience that whatever came his way, he, Tino, would ride the crest of the wave. Opportunity might come from any direction. Tino had an innate sense that all would redound to his benefit, as if events within his orbit occurred just for him.


Elise’s head pressed painfully against the bottom of the boat. Immediately a rush of cold sea-water slapped her in the face, as though someone had thrown a bucket of it at her. The cold water served to snap her thinking into a proper time-line. She realized she had been thrown up the front of a wave, and then dropped precipitously behind it. But this was no wavelet like what she would expect in the bay. Her glimpse upon rising up in the wave told her she had drifted outside the bay altogether.