Sunday, August 15, 2010
SWB: Swimming lessons
I learned to swim at summer camp when I was a kid. Ben the strong lifeguard, affectionately nicknamed "Big Ben", was there to help me out when I got tired practicing to tread water and venturing out into the deep end of the pool. On one of my early attempts to head to the deep end, I panicked as I suddenly realized I could not longer reach the bottom of the pool. I thrashed and gasped and swallowed what I thought was the entire pools worth in a few moments.
Ben swiftly swam to where I was floundering in the pool, wrapped a strong arm around my waist and towed me safely to the shallow end. What he said to me next had held fast in the memory banks of my brain. "The water can be your enemy or it can be your friend. If you respect and work with the water, it can carry and support you forever."
After he said these words, he suggested I practice floating on the surface of the water. "Pretend there is a string attached to your chest, arch your back and relax into the pool." It took some practice, but by the end of my week at summer camp I was no longer attempting to fight the waves. I was floating all about the pool - shallow and deep end included - and the panic and fear had left my heart.
There are many places and circumstances besides a swimming pool that Ben's words can be of help. Panic, in any case is not a helpful tool in life. The challenges life presents can sometimes press people into a place of panic, but in the end the frantic flailing about does nothing more than cause a ruckus and then scare other's leading them into a place of unrest.
With the children of WW2, loaves of bread were the tool to keep panic at bay. When I was learning to swim, Ben was my non-panicking bread giver.
In the midst of the splashing, sloshing and "oh man, I'm in deep" moments - where did you find calm and rest?
What were your times of treading water, panic and peacefully floating in the presence of the calm or not-so-calm waters this week? Like Ben, for me when I was just learning to swim, who was there to support you along the way this week?
It is in the words, actions and example of these life-guards that our bread is found. Who was your lifeguard this week?