Swimming and Floating
This is a reprise of an earlier post from February. I was thinking about it a lot yesterday, and so here it is again, slightly edited, in observance of Earth Day.
There's a big difference between swimming and floating. One has to do physical work to swim, and one has to trust the water to float. Floating is harder for many people. What if one sinks? What about floating into someone or hitting the side of the pool? What if a wave comes along? Floating seems out of control. Most of us would rather rely on our actions, the work of our arms and legs, our purposefulness. Floating seems like doing nothing.
I have, on more than one occasion, been accused of not being able to do nothing. I've got projects going, I'm writing, I'm reading, I'm going somewhere, I'm rearranging furniture, closets, my life. Agreeing to do yet something else that someone asks me to do. Some of us perhaps do not value "doing nothing." We're supposed to be productive, efficient, time-managing, purposeful people, and doing nothing is, well, doing nothing. I actually do have times of doing nothing, but I tend to be alone then. If people are present, I want to interact.
I do like floating, though. I like the sensation of it, feeling buoyed by the water, held up. I like the sound of it with water coming in and going back out of my ears like little waves lapping, hearing both a little of what's going on underwater (rhythmic peacefulness) and a little of what's going on above the water line (except it's muted). I like the sensation of being just slightly underwater and being sort of in two places at once. I like to feel myself bobbing like a cork or cresting the waves like a little boat. I'm not doing nothing while I'm floating. I'm thinking and feeling and really noticing my body and my senses are working very productively. My imagination flows and my curiosity is peaked but within a sense of calm and restfulness.
I would like to be able always to "float" in the sense of trusting God. Denise Levertov's poem The Avowal puts it like this:
As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so I would learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit's deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.
Amen, I say.