Swimming through deep waters

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

I WAS two OR THREE days into a vacation with my husband and children on a small, quiet lake in New Hampshire when an intriguing idea struck me. Sitting on the dock, gazing across the lake, I suddenly wondered, Could I make it to the opposite shore?

It wasn't that I didn't know how to swim. I could vividly recall the day when, as a 5-year-old, I learned to swim in a quiet cove on the Connecticut shore. I had waded out a little deeper than before, pushed off the sandy bottom, paddled and kicked, and was amazed to find that the water held me up. It lasted only a few seconds, but I bounded from the water and skittered up the beach with salt on my lips. "I can swim!" I shouted to my parents.

But most of my girlhood swimming was done in brief spurts - in pools or at our local swimming hole. A natural pool in a little gorge, Red Hole was brook-fed with water that was cold, black, and bottomless. Snakes were rumored to lurk in the shadows cast by overhanging hemlocks. The place made me shiver. I spent more time crouching on the rocks than I did swimming.

So now, in my early 30s, the possibility of swimming the quarter mile across this lake in New Hampshire stretched my imagination. But the granite boulders, like welcoming beacons, invited me to try.

I walked down to the pine-scented edge, plunged into the lake, and headed for the far shore. My husband trailed me in a small boat, but I really wanted to do this on my own if I could.

The surface of the water sparkled with the afternoon sun. A breeze fluttered the leaves of the swamp maples across the lake. At eye level, the wave-dimpled lake looked immense, but before long the boulders were a little less distant. I was halfway across, farther from shore than I'd ever been. I had no idea how deep the water was, except that it was well over my head.

Don't think about getting tired, I told myself. I rolled onto my back and began to pray the Lord's Prayer. One line at a time I breathed it in and out, pondering its meaning. I felt myself relax then. I felt assured that there was a power holding me up in every way.

When I rolled back over, the shore looked much nearer. My limbs surged, closing the gap. I could see the lichens on the rocks. Finally, my foot felt a slimy underwater surface, and I grabbed a dry handhold and hauled myself up onto a boulder.

I sat there heaving, and grinned. "I can swim!" I shouted to myself. "I can really swim!" The fear that had limited me for so long had evaporated. Little did I know this experience would one day help me in a significant way.

Several years later I became ill. At times the problem seemed deep and dark. I wasn't sure I'd make it. I was grateful for the help of a Christian Science practitioner, someone who devotes himself full time to the public healing ministry. Every day I called him on the phone. He shared spiritual insights with me and prayed for me. I prayed, too, but I didn't get better right away. One day I said I felt I was going through deep waters. His response at once startled and delighted me. It appealed to my sense of adventure. "Deep waters are for swimming in," he said.

During the weeks that followed, I dived into the wonderful truths in the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. I found these books full of promises I could count on. One of my favorites was this verse: "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut. 33:27).

And Paul's words: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?... I am persuaded that neither death, nor life ... nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature [such as disease, I thought], shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:35, 38, 39). Mary Baker Eddy's writings helped me see that this unbreakable relationship I had with divine Love sustained my life, and actually was Life itself.

As my confidence in the laws of God grew, I felt upheld in every way. A beautiful physical healing followed. The problem just evaporated, like clouds on a sunny day.

No matter what you're going through, there is a power under you, holding you up. It's more solid than a granite boulder. And you can rely on it always to be there, because Love is divine law.

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