Wednesday, January 12, 2011

At the Beach

When we arrive, we barely dip our toes in.  We prefer the safety of the sand and momma.  For some, the relationship with the water ends there. But we are a little bolder and we stand in the water.  It laps at our ankles and we shout with pride, “look at me!!”  Next we venture to our knees.  I still remember my own daughter standing with a floatie around her middle, the water nowhere near it, and her declaring, “I am swimming!” 

For some, this is it.  It’s fun and safe to get in the water to their knees.  They can splash and run, go back and forth between sand and water.  They are in control, but still enjoying the company of the swimmers.  It is perfect middle ground.

But for us it feels dangerous and daring to go out until our bellies are wet.  We are excited and can’t resist the call of the water.  The deeper water is cold and we reflexively breathe in sharply when a wave hits higher than expected.  We didn’t like that.  In fact, we get a little angry at the water for slapping our chests and we move to shallower waters.  But now it is really cold.  The wind blows against our wet bodies mercilessly and we realize we would be warmer if we went a just little deeper.

Some will end here.  They discover that they can go in to just below their bellies and occasionally sit.  It is really quite ingenious.  They sit when the wind gets high, but can stand when the water gets rough.  Perfect!

But we venture on!  Soon chest level water is comfortable.  Basically our entire body is immersed; but we keep our heads.  The water is warm and we even dare to pick up our feet sometimes.  It is indescribably wonderful to feel ourselves float and be carried by the movement of the water.  But we don’t let it go for too long.  We soon reach out our toes to feel for solid ground.  It would be foolish to give up complete control.  Our heads may get wet!

A big wave comes from nowhere.  We go all the way under and it feels like we will never resurface.  Our lungs burn and we panic.  Our arms and legs thrash as we fight the water for survival.  The truth is that it only lasts a moment, but we come up sputtering, scared and, once again, angry.  We were sure we had figured this swimming thing out.  We never agreed to unexpected waves!  We move once again to shallow waters.

There are plenty of people heading in both directions in the water now.  We are all welcomed with awe—after all, we had gone all the way out there.  Some find old friends who had chosen to stay in the shallows. It feels good to be admired, and they haven’t quite gotten over that dunking, so they find a niche and settle in.

But we still feel the call.  We can’t get the Moment out of our minds.  We wonder, what really happened? It had all been so fast, we can’t resist exploring the deep again to get some answers.  We go out.  And out.  There is no way we can touch the earth now.  We are carried by the water.  Sometimes a wave hits, but we learn to ride it, to trust it.  We are surprised when we discover we can anticipate some of the waves and have fun even when we come up sputtering. 

We look back to the shore and we are surprised at how far it is.  How did that happen?  We realize from the shore the view is so limited.  From here, there is a vastness unimaginable.  We wonder why we couldn’t see it from the shallows.  But now we know, we will never go back.

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