Monday, September 17, 2012


This summer was all about being wet. As the season draws to a close, I see it wasn't just about cooling myself from the heat. It was a practical way to teach my heart to drench itself in beauty, refreshment, relaxation, peace.

It reminds me of my summers as a child. On the days when no one was available to "come out and play" I would venture into the pool in my backyard alone. After I had done enough handstands and somersaults, front dives and back dives to satisfy my need for play, I craved a different kind of movement. I would swim to the bottom of the pool and sit with my legs crossed Indian style and see how long I could stay there.

I learned quickly how buoyant my little girl body was. As soon as I positioned myself, my bottom would go floating up, up, up. I'd be suspended in the water, body tilting forward and sideways, legs still crossed, trying to get myself back down, down, down.

I learned that if I stretched out my arms beside me with my elbows bent, and made small upwards motions with my hands, I could keep my body down.

Once I mastered this, I remember enjoying the expansive stillness around me. I recall yelling out and listening to the sound of my own warbled under-water voice.

As my mind wanders back to that place, my body can still feel the palpable comfort of being enveloped by the deep.

Right now I feel like I could stay at the bottom without any butterfly movements of my hands. It's like I have leaden weights tied to my ankles, and if it weren't for my need to come up for air, I could stay in the deep for a very long time.

I crane my neck and look above me at the water's surface. It seems far away from here. And that's exactly where I need it to be.

I relish the muted sounds. I'm fascinated by the way everything looks fluid under water--even my own body.

I want to hush everything around me and say, "Listen. Just listen to the deep."


  1. Have you ever gone deep sea diving? Or snorkeling?

    I haven't yet, but I really want to!

    I feel like I just sat on the sunlight dappled bottom of the pool with you. Now that I'm middle-aged I've pretty much given up trying to keep my body under water. The positive side to more body fat is that it makes it a lot easier to float these days!

    So now I float. My ears are still under water and my eyes get to soak in the expanse of heaven.

    It must be the season for soaking in the soft waters, for Rachel was just remarking today about the softness of the waters in her pool. As the seasons change, I know God will bring something just as wonderful to soak in, if you can't get as easily into the water.

    Or maybe just come on over to Thermopolis where the healing waters are always warm, gentle and comforting! Another benefit is that the cold air produces large volumes of steam so you can float through the maze of wafts of steam, never seeing more than a couple feet in front of you.

    It was fun on the bottom of the pool with you today, my mermaid friend... such a playful time... thanks!

    1. I have been snorkeling but not deep sea diving. I like the *deep* but the deep sea seems a little too deep, if you know what I mean. I like to be able to look up and see the top of the waters moving to and fro. Maybe some day? Maybe.

      I love your image of the "sunlight dappled bottom." And the image of you emerging from the hot springs clothed in steam. :)

  2. i could never let go of control enough as a child to do this, but the way you describe it? oh, i want to hold fast, link arms with you at the bottom of the water and hear, see all that deep- fluid, consuming, changing perceptions until the only thing that remains is- the deep. you bring me there with your words. xo

    1. I'd love to link arms with you at the bottom of any pool, any day. :)

  3. Oh wow...from someone who has never experienced the underside of any body of water (apart from a couple of forced occasions) and wishes to someday conquer this fear: that was incredible. Someday I want to know that kind of "unpanicked depth" and be able to last long enough to see, hear and feel what you describe. This is such a good parallel to real life depth and how it is experienced...

    Oh, and the above "linked arm" picture? Yes!!! Do you think the longer we stay down, the easier our fears float away, up to the surface where its residue can be easily removed? I think I need to believe so...

    1. "Do you think the longer we stay down, the easier our fears float away, up to the surface where it's residue can be easily removed?"

      What a lovely picture, Rebekah. Yes, I have a hunch it's got to be true. When you are under water, if you let out a little air through your nostrils, bubbles come out and they float all the way up to the surface. I like to think of our fears as little air bubbles, being slowly released and eventually floating up, up and away. One breathe at a time...

  4. Well I was born in the sign of water
    And it's there that I feel my best
    The albatros and the whales they are my brothers
    And it's kind of a special feeling
    When you're out on the sea alone
    Staring at the full moon like a lover

    1. "Eventually every woman away from her soul-home tires. This is as it should be. Then she seeks her skin again in order to revive her sense of self and soul, in order to restore her deep-eyed and oceanic knowing. This great cycle of going and returning, going and returning, is reflexive within the instinctual nature of women..."
      --Clarissa Pinkola Estes, "Women Who Run With the Wolves" p. 265

    2. The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live,unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights,a shadow of hope in every heartbreak,and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness.

      ‘It’s the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet,and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy. ~ Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

    3. This last one? Oh, I want to scrawl it on my bedroom walls, so my heart doesn't forget it.

      But I know it resonates because it is written on the *deep* of my soul. It's scrawled in crayon and tears and paint smears and dirt and blood and slime.

      All this recovery work, this sitting with the grief, it's like it's given me a black light. So I'm walking through the dark with it and I can see the ancient symbols written inside me. I see the "bittersweet" engraved in deep grooves. It's not hieroglyphics anymore. I can see it in neon yellow. It's there; I won't forget.

  5. Aaah, so refreshing, Angie. My breath of fresh air: "Once I mastered this, I remember enjoying the expansive stillness around me. I recall yelling out and listening to the sound of my own warbled under-water voice" The silence of the deep has also been calling out to me.

    1. I hope you find a way to sit in your own expansive stillness very soon, Brianne. :)