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Sarah Motley

Sarah Motley
Episcopal Priest
Cache Creek is the place where God has been made real to me.

Sarah Motley Fisher is an Episcopal priest and has been ordained for more than 30 years. She was born in Sacramento, but raised on her father’s farm in Dixon. Sarah baptized her twin boys at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve.






Can you tell me your connection to Yolo County?

I grew up in Davis, born in Sacramento.  My dad was a farmer in Dixon. We spent a lot of time out on his ranch. In his free time, he would take us rambling up in the foothills here at Cache Creek. So many hours of days, weeks, and months spent with my toes in the mud. Watching the things grow and the seasons change and the quietness of the hills. It’s just the deepest place inside of me.

What memories are coming up for you being here at Cache Creek?

My earliest memory is up in the Capay Valley on a very foggy Saturday afternoon, walking through the woods, seeing the spider webs with the drops of water hanging on them so silently, the mossy rocks, wet grass, and the dogs having a wonderful time. It was a peaceful moment, and yet we were moving at the same time, discovering things. That’s a really nice memory to have as a young child.  Then, of course, coming here now to the Nature Preserve, it’s the memory about my twin boys’ baptism that we held here when they were barely walking.  That was quite an event for a number of reasons.

Could you just tell me why you chose to have the baptism at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve?

We came to the Cache Creek Nature Preserve because this was a place where we could gather the most people, the most efficiently. They didn’t have to drive far and there were some older people involved that were very important to me. We wanted to come to a place where they could walk easily down to the creek side. Where we could all stand and listen to the sounds around us of the birds and the breezes. You know, when you’re baptized, you’re plunged into a living history that goes back thousands and thousands of years. It’s a moving history and you really don’t know what you’re getting into. It starts out in the mountains and then comes down through the farms. It slows down, here and there, spreads out, and narrows. That’s a pretty good metaphor for Christian history (laughs). After the baptism, which was incredibly wonderful, the kids that were there started to swim. It became a party and that’s supposed to be what Christian life is all about. It’s to celebrate the gifts of God and that’s what happened here.

Who was baptized here?

Well, the two baptismal candidates were Martin Fischer and Fielding Fischer. They are my twin boys and they were about 2 and a half years old. The person who baptized them was the bishop. He was then the rector of St. Martin’s Church. He is now the Bishop of this diocese, Berry Beisner. There were quite a few people here from St. Martins, the Episcopal Church in Davis. And there were other friends and family from other parts of our lives.

Can you tell describe in broad brushstrokes the things that you did (at the baptism)?

We started out with a poem by Gary Snyder. It was sort of our opening hymn and it’s a wonderful poem called “Rip Rap.” It was perfect for just calling us to be here on the earth.  To put our feet down and let the surroundings be part of what we were doing. We read a sonnet and then in precession, we walked down to the creek side behind this cross that had been made from driftwood from around the creek. There we used most of the service from the Book of Common Prayer, which is the Episcopal prayer book. The two godparents presented the persons to be baptized. Questions are asked about what this [baptism] means to them. It’s all very formal. Then, the water is blessed by saying a prayer over the water. It’s a beautiful prayer talking about how water figures in salvation history. It refers to the Jews being saved by passing through the Red Sea and Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan. So, it’s a beautiful kind of summing up of many aspects of where water plays a role in the history. Then we got out those buckets and poured them over their heads while we were standing out there knee deep; everybody getting their clothes wet. We were all prepared for that of course. And then this little free-for-all happened when we finished. That was pretty much the end of the service.

What was your favorite part of baptizing your boys in this creek?

Well, I didn’t do the actual pouring, but I was hoping that they would have a sense of this indissoluble connection between the ground they walked on and the history and community they were being baptized into. I wanted them, somewhere, in some unconscious place [to know this]. I didn’t expect them to come home and give me a report on it (laughs). Just that, in their soul, this experience would connect those two parts of life. Driving out here today with them in the car, they were honest and said that they didn’t remember that much about the day. They remembered playing around in the water, but they were pretty young.  Not many people remember their baptisms (laughs).

Is there anything else you want to share about being here at the Preserve and having your story be part of the public history of this region?

Well, the only real thing is to say thank you to the Preserve and to everyone who is working here and everywhere else in California to preserve what we can. God gave us [Cache Creek] to have. It’s not that we don’t need houses, roads, and all the rest of it, but it’s just vanishing, so thank you, Cache Creek Nature Preserve.

Written by: 
Arya Nowshiravani

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