athAnticipating a peaceful, relaxing time swimming laps Friday morning after my writing class, I drove to the Jordan Y in Indianapolis. Parking the car, checking in, finding a locker, changing clothes, entering the pool all went smoothly. Slipping into the water, I pushed off from the side of the pool, gliding rhythmically to the other side.
After completing ten laps, someone grabbed my foot!
"There is a class starting that needs three lanes," the lifeguard said. "You can still swim on the other side of the lane divider," the lifeguard added. "Unfortunately the other lane dividers are broken and we can't unroll them. You'll have to swim in open water."
Lane dividers not only outline a space in the water where two swimmers can move comfortably, but also keep the water smooth.
Switching from a lane to the open swim area meant I joined three others, making the water choppy. I contributed to the unsettled water as I attempted to navigate from one side of the pool to the other, trying to avoid colliding with three other swimmers.
Swimming in unmarked water is disruptive, stressful and risky. In the past I have bumped into other swimmers when dividers are missing.
Finishing my laps, stretching at the end, I realized I experienced a picture of how we can find ourselves in rough waters when we least expect it. The first ten laps I completed in smooth, calm water. Then, after the guard grabbed my foot and explained the defective line dividers, I was suddenly plunged into choppy swimming conditions.
In an instant life can change. A shift in a relationship, illness, a tree crashing into your house in a strong storm, a van rear ending your car, unkind words from a friend. All these things change our reality, physically or emotionally. Even extreme events and loss, like death, unemployment or relocation, change life in dramatic ways.
Although nothing affected my personal life while I swam, I was disappointed having my smooth, peaceful time in the water disrupted. The metaphor I lived that day reminded me to appreciate times of ease and peace and brave myself for open waters.
Prayer: God, we know we will face factors in life over which we have no control. You are like the lane dividers at the pool, offering strength to the water as well as guidance, direction and boundaries for those who swim. Help us offer gratitude in smooth water and empower us to seek you when our days become rough and choppy. Amen.