Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Selfless Swimming to the Object of our Affection

    It is interesting the way in which water plays a huge role in Christianity.  We are baptised with water, water and blood came out of Jesus' side when he was pierced after death on the cross, some of the Apostles were fisherman, Jesus turned water into wine...the list goes on and on.  Today, I was realizing the ways in which water has played a role in my own life, and I vividly remembered an especially meaningful personal example.

This is a story about tubing, and rescue, and faith.  Several years back, my husband, my youngest son who was about six, and I were visiting some close friends at their summer home on New Hampshire's Lake Winnapasaukee, and our friends suggested a ride in their boat, and some tubing (pulling a large inflatable tube at high speeds behind the boat, with the tuber (victim) riding on top of the tube.)  We three readily agreed, and off we went, four adults, four kids, and one giant honker of a tube.  As we headed out towards the middle of the lake, I was comforted by one of the children's words - "my Gigi (grandmother) loves tubing!"

Now, I'm not sure what I did to our friend Jeff, but it must have been bad.  Because when I clambered atop the tube, after all the kids had made it look easy, list of hand signals reeling throug my brain (thumbs-up, go faster, thumbs-down, slower, hand across neck - stop), Jeff had a grin on his face and apparently no good in his heart.  He started me out slowly enough (just getting me into a false state of relaxation), but then as we circled, tighter and tighter, I started hitting waves.  At first they were fun "bouncy" waves that frankly made me look cool to my son and husband, and made me feel very good about myself in general; but soon the waves Jeff was creating was so fast and high that I began to worry.  Releasing one hand from it's death-grip on the tube handle, I grinned falsely (everything is fine!!  maybe a little slower just to re-position my bathing suit...so a quick THUMBS DOWN!  See my hand, Jeff?  My thumb is definitely DOWN!!))  Jeff smiled.  I didn't like his smile at all from the boat.  He gunned the boat's motor, and suddenly I was careening all over the tube, hands weakening, tube raising farther and farther up off the water with every crash into a wave.  (If you've seen the movie The Perfect Storm and it's awesome visual effects, you'll know what I mean; I was Mark Wahlberg on the bow of the ship as they crashed into wave after wave.  He drowned, eventually.)  Suddenly my hand gave, and I had to let go.  I was then sailing in mid-air, off the safety of the tube and into the lake.

When your head hits the water at that speed, it feels like it's hitting concrete, and for a moment, underwater, I was stunned.  Then, as I popped to the surface, anxious to give the thumbs-up so that my son wouldn't worry, I saw a flash of yellow in the water.  It was my little boy's life preserver bobbing in the distance; he had jumped into the water to save me - even though he was a very unsure swimmer, and the lake must have looked very big to him. He dog-paddled towards me, craning his neck to keep his head up, and spitting out water.  I swam towards him quickly, moved by his love and the enormity of his selflessness in jumping in.  And he must have had so much selfless love in his heart to forget his own safety, to reach out for his mom, whom he thought was in danger.

This morning in the 21st chapter of Acts, I was reading about Jesus revealing himself to the disciples after his physical death on the cross.  The disciples were fishing in the sea of Tiberias, and Jesus, whom they were not yet recongnising as His risen Self, was awaiting them on the shore. Verses 7-8 read: When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea."  He could not wait for the boat to get to shore, his love was so great.

James, I am still amazed at your gesture.  And Jeff, I'll get you...you can move to India, but some day, I'll get you...

Peace be with anyone who reads this, and have an amazing week!

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