Updated: Aug 20, 2022
One of my favourite things in the whole world is floating down the Bantham Estuary on a fast flowing incoming tide. Recently I enjoyed the fabulous weather that has turned most of the British coast into a Mediterranean experience and I took myself off everyday 2 hours before high tide to engage in this immersive experience. I realised after a few trips that floating solo was by far the more profound experience as it enabled me to really 'go with the flow'. Being a contemplative I reflected on what it was that seemed to touch me so deeply about this experience.
There was firstly the anticipation as I walked 15 mins from car to shore in nothing but a swimsuit - it could be called a walk of shame but the walk of near nakedness reminded me I am of humble dusty origins! The arrival at the waters edge would bring a sense of excitement at the sight of the fast flowing water yet also a dread of the cold. The moment of choice would arrive: to stay as a spectator or to become a participant. As I'm not (yet) a 'wild swimmer' or Wim Hof follower, but rather suffer from Raynauds, the easy choice was to remain on warm land rather than immerse myself in the cold water.
As the moment of entry arrived, through sheer will power as I would throw myself into the cold running current. Despite heatwaves the cool sting of the water always took my breath away. A muffled screech emitted and a mild panic rising at the sudden disappearance of ground and unknown depths and risks beneath me and I'd be in, committed. Initially it would feel rather uncomfortable, even a little disturbing (considering how something might attack and eat me!) but I'd swim out deeper into the current to realise the benefits.
As I swam out further, the shock would subside and simultaneously the flow increase as I'd be carried away now unaware of the lurking perils below that might possibly attack or eat me. I'd now feel carried, held. Little effort required on my part other than bodily agreement with the current so that I'd remain in its embrace. Not just held and carried, but because I'm immersed in that which is bigger than I, I can travel through landscapes that would otherwise remain inaccessible. New perspectives. The estuary carves out such beautiful turns in the rock and hills, much of which is covered in green. The water around became clearer, a translucent teal so that I was immersed in beauty in the immediate and the distant. And it was SO fun - flowing along in a way that was both speedy yet deeply calming.
If you haven't yet cottoned on to the deeper wisdom, the spiritual significance, then a little like the everyday parables Jesus told, here is the explanation: I am me! The estuary is God. Entering into God's presence and care is both inviting and scary. It requires a moment of choice - to just do it. The initial moments are disquieting and unfamiliar and not immediately rewarding but staying with God, in fact going deeper into the flow of God makes it easier. Then one is held by and carried by God. There are new perspectives when we are in the flow of God and we are taken through areas of beauty we would not ordinarily see. We are able to see beauty all around as we are actively directed by God whilst remaining in Divine peace. And all this is fun - so fun!
If there is some place or some activity that touches you, moves you, excites you...then spend some time contemplating how divine truth and presence might be available through it.