August 2009

Water World

I’m not here. By “here”, I mean Spring Valley, NY (or Ridgewood, NJ). I am away. I’ve gone to Tennessee with my family for two weeks of R&R. It is wonderful! That’s true for several reasons. It is wonderful because I get to spend some playful time with my family. It is wonderful because we will visit with Nora’s brother and his family. It is wonderful because dear friends will come to visit us while we are there. It is wonderful because I can be free to do nothing at all. And it is wonderful because it is set by water.

I love water! I love to drink it. I love a hot shower. I even like to wash dishes. I love to baptize babies. I love a gentle rainfall. I love big fat snowflakes and fresh fallen snow. I love water: I love to be in it, under it, over it, and by it. I love ponds, and creeks, and rivers, and lakes, and oceans. I love looking out of my office window at the pond behind the church in Memorial Park. I love going on vacation to Pickwick Landing in Tennessee. Sure I love the fact that it is free, but as much or more, I love that it is on the water.

John’s lake house sits on a point of land jutting out into a lake that was formed when the Army Corps of Engineers cut the Tombigbee canal from the Tennessee River to the Gulf of Mexico. It is placid and beautiful. It is surrounded by majestic evergreen trees. High in the branches sit Great Blue Herons watching over their realm and swooping down over the water, flying just inches above the surface, so graceful and elegant.

Most of the time we are there, we have the lake largely to ourselves. Others arrive for a day or two on the weekends, but for two weeks worth of weekdays, we practically have our own lake. It is ours to play in, and play we do. John has a lot of water “toys”. There is a ski boat, a fishing boat, a pontoon boat, and a jet ski. There are two docks for tying up the boats. There is a water slide and a canoe and a kayak and a crew shell. I can boat, row, fish, swim, bake in the sun, or do nothing. I have to tell you, it is heavenly. Most days, I do a little of everything. I also do a lot of fun reading, and I eat way too much rich southern cooking. Because I love it.

What a gift water is. The earth is covered with water, approximately 326 million trillion gallons of it covering 70% of the planet. Similarly, our bodies are about 65% water. So far as we know at this time, there can be no life without water. Water gives life; it can refresh, cleanse, and soothe us. It can be so gentle, and it can be so powerful. Water can heal, but it can also destroy. We remember too well the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004.

It is perhaps that water has this breadth and depth of qualities that draws me to it. When I am close to water, I feel close to God. The size and power of it, the beauty and radiance of its surfaces, the hidden mysteries of its depths speaks to me of God. Water conveys to me a sense of the immensity, eternity, and power of God. Some of my earliest and most profound moments of wonder and intuitions of God occurred when our church youth group spent a summer week together at the beach. When Nora and I were first married and living in the south, we often took our children and vacationed at the beach on Pawley’s Island, SC. There were no televisions, radios, or telephones (this was before iPods and iPhones and Blackberries). When we arrived there, the first thing I did was take off my watch and take off my shoes. I was on holy ground and on God’s time. I didn’t put either back on until it was time to go home.

So if you think of me during these weeks, picture me without shoes, socks, or watch. Picture me by water. Picture me relaxed. Picture me happy. I wish the same for you!