Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Floating and dancing

Listen to post:

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of introducing a non-swimmer to the water for the first time and it was exhilarating for me. I can’t, exactly, speak for her, but she seemed relaxed as I left her … floating.

My body rather loudly hinted Saturday afternoon that it needed a swim, so I complied by grabbing my suit, goggles, towel, flippers and gym bag, then filling my water bottle and heading off.

I brushed past an older woman in the locker room in my overly focused anticipation of laps. It does create in me a bit of obliviousness. I hit prime-time swim lessons, but an empty lane beckoned. They always leave one open for lap swimmers … thankfully.

As I was nudging my form-fitting fins on and adjusting my scratchy-lensed goggles, I heard the metal door squeal and noticed someone returning to the locker room. It was the lady I had brushed past, leaving because the lanes were full. As I rounded the deck on my first length, I also realized another swimmer had just vacated the lane for me and was drying off. I asked if she’d kindly tell the woman who’d left that I was happy to share.

My preference is not to share an already-narrow lane as my shoulders are wide, though ideal for swim strokes, and often sore. Scrunching them to accommodate a second body is not so relaxing. And yet, the thought of another doing without tugged at me.

Turns out the sharing was more than amicable. She was recovering from back surgery and walked the shallow end and swam the deep. As expected, her rhythm was much slower than mine and we rarely met. On a selfish note, it’s difficult to find my groove when I worry about colliding. I managed to find it, only to gently clip my companion. I apologized and she giggled.

I finished first, did my gentle stretches, then asked my cohort if I could offer my half of the lane to the young man and woman waiting. She was agreeable.

When I approached the couple, he explained that they’d been watching me as he was giving her instruction. This was her first day in the water. Apparently she was a dancer from Indonesia and uncertain of her body when it was buoyant. They were eyeing my flippers, so I offered them to her. Her coach lit up, saying it would probably make it so much easier. After his pep talk, I convinced them to harness her in a flotation belt; they’re the best place to start. She also wanted a couple of noodles. I held her hand as she sat down and the edge, hopped back into the water and waited, arms outstretched, as she launched herself into the deep-end corner. After a few panicky breaths, I heard them even and I knew it would  be okay.

Her coach got in and started working her strokes and I knew it was time to leave. She seemed to easily be managing the flippers, making her way where I had just swum.

I left, my whole being in a smile, because I understood a secret. When you learn to float in water, it’s a lot like surrendering to God. Floating is the process of trusting enough to relax your body into the wetness, but also keeping your core strong.

And so I left her … floating and dancing with my flippers.

• What is an early or first experience of water?
• How easily did I trust?
• Who was there to help me?
• When have I done so for another?
• How do I surrender/float to God?

rushing in,
brushing past

just to get in,
all wet

working each

for all of the
ick to melt away

I am not
the only one

in need

of surrendering
or floating


  1. I love the image of floating / surrendering to God. Swimming no, but I helped a woman learn to milk a cow. Jess is a large, beautiful woman and she approached the cow slowly. She had been watching me milk, but surrendered to her own feelings of what was right. She stroked the udder and squeezed gently on one teet, stopping to look at Sadie's face and ask "are you ok with this?" It was a lovely, intimate experience. I watched as Jess seemed to meld with the cow as if no one else was present.

  2. I love that image of being one with the cow, thanks so much for sharing that rich story, reading and commenting.