Friday, July 13, 2012

We All Have Our Moments

We all have our moments.

I remember one, in particular. I was seven or eight years old, and had just graduated from Beginner Swimming at the neighborhood pool on Geneva St. in St. Catharines. A summer earlier I had merely earned a participation certificate for that class--so passing was a big deal.

Privileges accrued to those who passed Beginner Swimming. The largest was permission to dive from the high board--if you dared. Many kids didn't. Some climbed the ladder, walked to the end of the board, looked down, and turned back. Climbing down they had to squeeze by all the kids on the ladder waiting their turn to dive. Not pleasant.

Well, I passed, and so Ernie and John and Art and several other neighborhood kids dared me. Even now I remember clinging to the chrome railings, standing nose to back of shin of the kid ahead of me, and the sandpaper-like feel of the plank. Soon I was above all, looking down at the postage-sized pool fifteen feet below. I see it all as clearly as if it was yesterday.

Then--the moment. Flex knees, bounce up and down an inch or two. Notice friends out the corner of my eyes. Wonder about bright reflection of sun on pool. I think that maybe I can still back out. Maybe I will! But my body is ahead of my brain, overriding my caution. I realize I'm committed. The dive is a go.

My moment has arrived. It is too late to back out. But the actual terror of my headlong dive hasn't yet begun. Already triumphant in my emotional brain, the rational part of my brain is nevertheless still thinking belly flop, mouth-to-mouth, and giving up the ghost. I remember this moment. It is almost unbearable but also, mysteriously, lovely.

And then it was past. I swam to the edge of the pool, and like an idiot lined up to do it again. But what amazes me, even now, is that I don't remember my (by all accounts, graceless) dive. Or hitting the water. But I do remember my moment before.

I've had a few more since. The moment between saying, "hi," on the telephone and asking her out on a date; the moment between stretching out my hands and catching my first child at his birth. Last night, there was the moment I stood in the pulpit before my new congregation for the first time, just having been introduced, but not yet launched into my sermon.

Once again, it was mysteriously lovely--a reminder that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun; a time for endings, but a time for new beginnings, too. Thank God.

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