Friday, July 17, 2009

Anyone for a swim?

It's hot.  Stinkin' hot.  At least for this marine-climate where we're accustomed to mild summers and winters, and lots of rain.  Growing up on the eastern border of Washington, I was used to much higher temperatures in the summer.  Long days of 100+ degree weather where I marched around barefoot, racing across streets so the soles of my feet wouldn't burn.  I loved those summers.  Love the pool where I spent most of my days, my hair slick and shiny with chlorine, my body brown and freckled.  Beve and I sometimes talk longingly of those Rainey Pool days, when we'd line up just before 1 PM to get into the pool complex, and wouldn't leave until we were starving. (Inexplicably, there was a puddle of warm water right between the two outdoor pools at Rainey Park, where Beve--and other kids--used to lie to get warm...this is what he remembers most.)

My family was populated with fishes; we all learned to swim before we learned to ride bikes.  Some days, I'd get home from my afternoon at the pool with my friends just in time for our whole family to drive back down in our suits at 5 PM for family swim. My parents took turns playing with us while the other swam laps.  Dad was a regular jungle-gym in water, the pool rules loose enough that he'd drop down in the water, let us climb onto his shoulders then spring up and toss us high in the air.  There were underwater swimming competitions, biggest splash competitions, and races. I never got tired of any of it.  I was a pool-grown kid, though.  Used to regulated water temperature and visibility to the bottom.  Lakes were always a little more iffy to me.  One never quite knew was was lurking beneath the depths.  But the truth is, I'll take any body of water, any time.  If there's enough water to put a toe in, I'm taking off my shoes, and checking it out.  If it's too cold to dive in, I stand there until my legs numb up, then walk a little farther.  Lakes, rivers, the sound, oceans--never met a body of water I didn't want to dive into. 

Well, that's perhaps an exaggeration.  I've been to India, you know.  I've seen some pretty ugly rivers, ones that look dirty and smell worse.  There have been a couple that I wasn't willing to risk my life for.  But I've swam in the ocean in Alaska, the same one in Hawaii, and lived to tell about it.  I think before I die, I'd like to dip my toes in every ocean--even McMurdoe Sound off Antartica.  I don't hunger to climb the highest mountains, or even some of the short ones, but the waters covering this planet?  I'll take them.

Part of it is exactly that I grew up in water. Come by it genetically, I think.  My mother's dad was winning swimming contests in the navy, and one of his sisters was still winning Masters' swim meets when she was 85 years old.  It's part of my DNA, this thirst to be immersed, so to speak. And, to be honest, my poor, weakened body doesn't hurt when it's bouyed by H2O--and I'm here to tell you, that's a huge (!) thing to me.

But I think I'm about immersion in every context of my life.  If something's worth doing, it's worth diving into, I think.  This goes for books, relationships, food (!), and most especially, God Himself.  I'm just not a dabbler.  It seems to me that God is the deepest ocean in the universe, and even the deepest dives cannot plummet His depths.  But, unfortunately, there are a lot of people who only dip their toes in.  Shoot, this world is populated by people who sit with their backs to the Ocean, and pretend it isn't even there.  And all the while He's roaring and rushing and moving forward toward them.  Their backs to Him, they are blind to the mighty Tide that is God moving toward them.

Me?  I want to swim in His Ocean.  I want to float on His bouyant surface, hold my breath and dive as deep as I can, to discover all the treasures of His depths.  And you know what?  I think that it's only in His Sea that I'll learn to breathe.  Breathing in His Living water, and breathing it out as love for Him and love through Him for my fellow swimmers.  Not to mention those who sit on the shore. Come on in, I'm saying with my life, the water's fine, It will hold you up, It will give you Life.

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