Monday, August 15, 2011

Take Me to the Water

"Take me to the water ... to be baptized."

I could not go to the waters I normally travel to each summer. For one thing, I was working full time plus, as a hospital chaplain. For another, it has been sold. Some other family goes there now.

I reached the end of my CPE summer and felt the call to come to the waters. There will always be water to refresh you. And I was hot, hot to the very core of my being. I'd drive to the park and ride, and it was already hot. Board the bus, walk a couple of blocks to the rail. Hot, steamy, even in an air-conditioned train car. A block to the hospital. Walking around, one end of the hospital to the other, clothed in a suit, because it's a formal type of place. Sweating through my blouses. Time to go, out to the even hotter day now, the rail, the bus, the car that has baked all day in the sun. Home, but the a/c couldn't keep up with this insane summer. Ice water on the inside, cold showers on my skin, it didn't matter. I couldn't get cool.

I knew where to go.

About 2 1/2 hours from my house, there is a giant pool, fed by natural cold springs. As a child, we would take trips and I would swim there. When my mother was a child, so did she. So did her parents, and her grandparents. Perhaps even those before them. I feel that the very molecules of my body, the genetic material I have inherited, somehow carried those experiences and cried out for me to come to the water. To the cold, cold waters, to be refreshed and replenished.

We didn't tell the children where we were going. Friday, as I left for my last day at the hospital, I left them a scavenger hunt of things to find ... sunblock, swim suits, goggles ... They were madly curious. The coast? The place where I often preach, or their grandmother's home? Nope, we told them. And that was all.

We played tantalizing music on the way, as they cudgeled their brains. Take Me to the Water, Take Me to the River, Old Black Water ...

And then we were there. We slipped on the algae-covered bottom, took deep intakes of breath as the cold hit us, quickly going the very center of our being. So hot all summer long, now we looked up at the small clouds that made it overcast and asked them to part so the sun could come through.

We swam together, somersaulting under the water, showing off strokes, floating and looking up at the clouds. I left them in the shallow for a bit, their father smiling knowingly at me as I took off for the deeper waters. I swam, I dove underneath, I was refreshed, revived, replenished, recovered. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and more, as they swam here, in this same place, at a different time. They came together in me and we were held in the healing waters.

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