Learning to Swim

     I don€™t remember what it was like but I can guarantee it was not my choosing to have three cups of water poured over my infant head.  No neck control.  No power over my arms.  No way to stop what to me at the time was drowning.
     Lydia enters the wading pool.  She can touch bottom easily and splashes around with a laugh that is pure innocent joy.  Her pink goggles squish up her cheeks and pull her grin a little wider.  The instructor calls the kids to sit on the edge of the wading pool and gives them each a foam noodle fashioned into a tight hoop the size of a three year olds chest.  One foot at a time the kids step into the hoop and pull it up around their waste till it€™s nestled under their shoulders giving the unknown assurance that they will float where their feet cannot reach.  And like a mother duck the instructor leads the line of soggy ducklings over to the big pool.  She calls them one at a time and they jump out to her waiting arms that pull them up once they have gone under.  Lydia waits in the back of the line and I watch her from across the pool in my chair hoping as a father hopes that she will be brave and courageous and jump in when the teacher calls her name.  And yes a small part of me wants my daughter to fit in, to measure up, in a sense to be like all the other kids.  Her name is called and though I can€™t hear the conversation I can see her shivering arms bring her hands to her mouth.  I can see her head shaking €˜no.€™ Quick, short, adamant twitches.  And I know what she€™s capable of and I know how happy the confidence of jumping in would bring her and so I remain where I am and let the instructor do her job.  But I€™m also her father and I want her to be secure and I want to go over and hold her hand and make everything okay and take her home and wait another summer for swim lessons.  And so I€™m conflicted – and in a way heartbroken. 
     The instructor in all her maternal kindness and wisdom comes to the edge of the pool where Lydia is standing and gently, but firmly, reaches up, holds on to the foam noodle encircling Lydia€™s chest and eases her smoothly and calmly into the water and holds her to her side.  It€™s a split second of motion €“ a bit startling really €“ and a relief as I see Lydia€™s face with it€™s uncharacteristically reserved demeanor looking over at me and letting me know that she€™s okay with what just happened.  A bit confused, but okay.
     I look in the pool of water at the baptismal fount and I wonder how deep it is.  I wonder if I dare toe the edge.  And I know I am incapable of entering it on my own.  No matter how much theology I wrap around it, it still remains a mystery of life and more shockingly death.  I could drown in that pool.  I did.  I couldn€™t survive it as an infant and I can€™t survive it now.  Yet my parents brought me to the edge of the pool where God reached out and pulled me into the waters.  Given my complete inability to save myself, those waters were death.  Given God€™s gracious compassion I came up from the water and found myself held close to God€™s side, fully alive.  And as sure as my inability remains, all the more has God€™s grace prevailed.
     And so tomorrow Lydia and I will go again to the pool and I will marvel at the ways in which she teaches me daily and hopefully once again I will recognize that God is with us.


Posted: June 7th, 2007
Categories: fact
Comments: No Comments.

Like Nate on Facebook

Purchase Reform Follows Function on iTunes