Of late I’ve rediscovered the water, the swimming pool specifically. Head first and without care I launch myself off the deck, in the deep-end of course. Smell that chlorine. Don’t mind it. The leaves float and sink as I swim past them at this outdoor facility. More today than a week ago. None at this time last year. Fall is creeping, threatening to take away this summer oasis. Driving up to it, through the lines of heat, I imagine it a mirage. Go ahead Fall. I call your bluff and wager that you won’t show until October.
Pool’s packed. More people bobbing in the water than leaves. You know it’s busy when you can’t swim a length in a straight line. Kids laughing and screaming and having fun are accompanied by adults trying to do the same. Few succeed as the majority have forgotten how to let go, essential to becoming a child. Balls fly every-which-way and the diving board has a lineup. No fancy dives from me going viral today. A pencil dive is about as much as I can muster. Not even a cannon ball for fear that I’ll splatter upon impact.
This is it. In the heat of the sun and chlorinated water I’ve come alive in a way that I don’t normally. “Jules I just need to go for a swim,” I tell my wife. “Do you have to go right now,” she says. “As soon as possible.” And with that I’m out the door and here in less than five minutes. She heard my desperation and sees how I come to being in a fuller way when I’m in the water. Just how God created me I guess. Thanks for letting me go Jules. That came out wrong. She’s not my slave master. That came out worse.
Swimming has never been a strength. Down the length of the pool and I stop to breathe. Back the other way and repeat. Never more than two lengths without stopping to rest. That’s about to change in the next few weeks if this is kept up. Never mind cooler weather holding me back. It’s me I’m most worried about. Laziness and sloth can infect me worse than gangrene. They can’t be cut off. Once set in place to fester it’s game over. Hello freshman 15 (again). I’m warding off parts of myself to keep the other parts going and functioning to par. Everyone does. Enough of demons though.
What swimming is to me, cycling or running or climbing trees is to you. It’s about getting the blood flowing and praying that other prayer which only sets in when the heart is pumping. A catechist can’t teach it to you. We come to know and say it when out there and in it. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Put on your shoes and take a brisk, hour-long walk if you’re able. When you’re done, come back and tell me I’m full of it.
The ability to move is pure gift, going hand-in-hand with that other precious gift, the body. One of my favourite things to do in the pool is tread water. I’ll be out there in the middle of the deep-end just treading. Just trying to stay afloat. Not hard except for when you do it for more than a few minutes. Five minutes in you start to feel muscles you never felt. Ten minutes of treading and suddenly you’re aware of two massive cavities in your chest called lungs. If you’re able to reach the 15 minute mark I applaud you because in that quarter hour you have felt every fiber of you body and although dead tired you’re happy to have experienced it. Miracles aren’t just something that come in the form of healing, many are in you and waiting to be experienced. Go.
photo credit: Alan Cleaver