This summer, we went back to the Gulf Coast of Florida for our vacation, and I discovered snorkeling. The Gulf of Mexico was exceptionally clear this year. Something I am profoundly grateful for after the BP oil spill. Stepping into that warm, clear water felt like standing in liquid forgiveness, the limits of which I hope we never test again.
I went to the tacky t-shirt shack, a fixture at all beach communities,
and I bought a mask and a snorkel that sealed itself if I went
completely under water. What a world they opened to me.
our little beach was like swimming in an aquarium. I felt like the
plastic diver in the aquarium we used to have in our living room,
forever about to discover the treasure chest with the lid that kept
opening in a stream of bubbles.
As soon as I put my face in the
water, connected to my world through the plastic tube by my ear, I
found myself in the middle of a school of bait fish. Shiners the locals
called them. They were about an inch long with green backs, blue eyes
and sides made of a thousand tiny mirrors. They swam straight at me
like snow flakes when you’re driving at night through a snow storm.
them, I could see the larger fish, Jack and Redfish, darting up from
the bottom, feeding on the stragglers. The sunlight, a spidery web of
light underwater, created endless patterns, brilliant flashes as the
fleeing shiners turned to avoid me. A garbled cry of amazement and joy
caught in my throat. What beauty lay just below the surface!
realized that water is just another kind of atmosphere, and as I swam
connected to the world above by the thin pipe whooshing full of my own
breath by my ear, I felt like I was flying, held by the water, my shadow
gliding across the rippled sand bottom 12 feet below me. Startling the
small fish for whom every shadow means danger.
some would swim along just below me, using me for shelter from the birds
above and the larger fish below. What grace to pass through this new
world extending shelter to these temporary little traveling companions.
many worlds exist like this, just below the surface of my life? I get
the uncomfortable feeling that there are undiscovered worlds like this
at my finger-tips all the time, and that God is so much grander, so much
more present around me than I ever imagined.
We often make
redemption and salvation a personal matter. Turn Jesus into our
personal savior, like the personal flotation device my seat cushion can
supposedly be turned into if the plane we arrived here on were to go
down over water. Some things you just have to take on faith I guess,
because I’d surely drown trying to figure out how to do that. It takes
me a couple of trys to locate the correct buckle for my seat belt.
in the blizzard of these shiners extending my accidental grace and
protection, gives me a sense of the grandness of creation. Can God's
redemption and salvation be any less grand?