Monday, July 26, 2010

Lifeguard On Duty

It has been a while, but racing down to the water’s edge for the first time this summer is like greeting an old friend. This is the ocean I had played in nearly every summer as I was growing up. I’ve been in the Pacific and Caribbean as well, even the Mediterranean Sea. But this is the ocean I know. I let the water lap over me feet and I move out deeper, familiarity rising and falling over me with each wave. I brace myself against the strong undertow, gazing out at the wide expanse of sea where distant boats float on blue. A sandbar allows me to stay waist deep until a rising curl whips me off my feet and I feel that sensation of floating midair before I crash back into the white froth. I ride the waves for a while like this, jumping the smaller ones, diving under the larger.

And then the waves changed. The crash of water is more insistent, stronger than before. I barely catch my breath from one before I’m hammered by the next. The thought of moving closer to shore hits me only a moment before the whistle blows. I start swimming hard. The group I had been swimming with is now a wave ahead of me, and then two. The waves are striking me at different angles now, holding me back in a watery grip. With each big wave, I kick for all I’m worth, thinking this is the wave that will carry me all the way to shore, but I make no progress. Each time, I’m pulled back deeper into the ocean. I can’t see anyone else in the water anymore. I look to the shore. The lifeguards are standing now, not breaking eye contact, waving me in. I fight the water again, swimming, but in vain. A feeling of exhaustion washes over me suddenly, and I know I have nothing left. I can’t make it in. Another wave dunks my head under. I don’t fight it. After the crash, I let my body float back to the surface and gasp for another breath. Salt stings my senses. I look again to the life guards poised on the water’s edge. I slowly shake my head and wave an arm. I can’t do it.

Then suddenly, I hear a succession of short fast whistle blows. Two life guards hit the water, swimming at me faster then I thought possible. I have time to think of staying calm. Strong arms, stronger than the clutch of the water pull me from the riptide. I won’t recognize either of my rescuers later. I’m only aware of the arms that hold me on either side, bringing me to safety. In that moment, even before my feet touch the sand, I am at peace. I feel perfectly safe. 

Once the strong arms were there, nothing else mattered. It meant moving beyond the humiliation of asking for help. It meant moving beyond the feeling of insufficiency at not being able to help myself. It meant resting in a strength far greater than my own. And I think I'm learning to do that. Maybe this was all just part of the process. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I laugh at the gullible mind then wonder what it would be like to be so trusting.

"I want to go outside."
"You can't go out it's too hot."
"It's not too hot."
"If you go outside, you will melt and then there will be puddles all over the playground where all the children used to be."
Later when he went outside, I saw him scanning the playground area and realized he was looking for the puddles.

They'll buy anything.With little effort, they believe in beanstalks and Santa Clause, field cows and hill cows, monsters and aliens.

We torment the gullible, both the child and the blond. We feed them lies and laugh when they believe, but become jealous of their unquestioning faith. We pride ourselves on being above the gullible trap and begin to question not only the lie, but also the truth.

Salvation by faith?
A strength made perfect in weakness?
Love for enemies?

Sunday, July 04, 2010


I just got back from a camping trip, not the roughing it kind by any stretch. Not that I'm opposed to roughing it camping. That's just not what we did. I haven't camped in a long time. We did it a lot growing up, but it's been a while. And this particular campground was only about ten minutes from home. But it was camping just the same. I was excited enough to buy my own tent. Or maybe I just didn't relish the thought of sharing a tent with certain individuals who snore insistently. The tent I got was advertised as a 2 man tent, so naturally it sleeps one. If I ever get married, he'll just have to get his own tent. My new miniature abode has a base measuring 7 feet by 5 feet, but it isn't really. It's more like 7 feet by 3 feet and is rather like sleeping in a coffin.

Lot's of experience camping teaches you certain skills. I can now get changed inconspicuously in the backseat of a car (though that may have less to do with camping and more to do with three years of deputation and being required to arrive at churches in a skirt). I can roast marshmallows to perfection. And I generally don't forget the basic essentials anymore. The only things forgotten this trip that were deemed worth going back for was salt, aspirin, and the second bag of marshmallows.

The best part of camping:
Cooking "gourmet" over a wood fire.
Snuggled up in a sleeping bag reading by flashlight late into the night.
Walking along various campsites and watching people who have no idea how to set up a tent.
Guitar and psaltery by firelight.
Telling funny/scary stories--recalling the story Mom told me when I was eight that gave me nightmares for the entire rest of my childhood.