Monday, April 5, 2010

There's no other way to explain it

I realize I can be dramatic, but oftentimes, what I'm going through, feels dramatic to me.

The following is an excerpt from a book I am currently reading. It is not a Christian or spiritual book, but when I read this section, I saw my own feelings about my recent spiritual life reflected. These past 3 years or so (and especially the past 6 months or so) have been difficult. At this point I believe I can almost feel God molding me into a different, better, more real, more genuine, more caring, more stable, stronger person. But it's felt about like this...

Both Brian and Lori knew how to swim, but I had never learned. Large bodies of water scared me. They seemed unnatural - oddities in the desert towns where we'd lived. We had once stayed at a motel with a swimming pool, and I worked up the nerve to make my way around the entire length of the pool, clinging to the side. But the Hot Pot didn't have any neat edges like the swimming pool. There was nothing to cling to.

I waded in up to my shoulders. The water around my chest was warm, and the rocks I was standing on felt so hot I wanted to keep moving. I looked back at Dad, who watched me, unsmiling. I tried to push out into deeper water, but something held me back. Dad dived in and splashed his way toward me. "You're going to learn to swim today," he said.

He put an arm around me, and we started across the water. Dad was dragging me. I felt terrified and clutched his neck so tightly that his skin turned white. "There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" Dad asked when we got to the other side.

We started back, and this time, when we got to the middle, Dad pried my fingers from around his neck and pushed me away. My arms flailed around and I sunk into the hot, smelly water. I instinctively breathed in. Water surged into my nose and mouth and down my throat. My lungs burned. My eyes were open, the sulfur stinging them, but the water was dark and my hair was wrapped around my face and I couldn't see anything. A pair of hands grabbed me around the waist. Dad pulled me into the shallow water. I was spitting and coughing and breathing in uneven choking gasps.

"That's ok," Dad said, "catch your breath."

When I recovered, Dad picked me up again and heaved me back into the middle of the Hot Pot. "Sink or swim!" he called out. For the second time, I sank. The water once more filled my nose and lungs. I kicked and flailed and thrashed my way to the surface, gasping for air, and reached out for Dad. But he pulled back, and I didn't feel his hands around me until I had sunk one more time.

He did it again and again, until the realization that he was rescuing me only to throw me back into the water took hold, and so, rather than reaching for Dad's hands, I tried to get away from them. I kicked at him and pushed away through the water with my arms, and finally, I was able to propel myself beyond his grasp.

"You're doing it baby," Dad shouted, "you're swimming!"

I staggered out of the water and sat on the calcified rocks, my chest heaving. Dad came out of the water, too, and tried to hug me, but I wouldn't have anything to do with him, or with Mom, who had been floating on her back as if nothing were happening, or with Brain and Lori, who gathered around and were congratulating me. Dad kept telling me that he loved me, that he never would have let me drown, but you can't cling to the side your whole life, that one lesson every parent needs to teach a child is, "If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim." What other reason, he asked, would possibly make him do this?

Once I got my breath back, I figured he must be right. There was no other way to explain it.

-The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls, p. 65-66


A.J. said...


This is a really neat picture. I can see how this would hit you the way that it did...even though it is not a spiritual book that is definitely a spiritual metaphor. I always saw that book on your shelf and wondered if it was good. God is teaching you how to swim in Portland.

Paul said...

This is really cool Mel. God is a good Father and I know that whatever you're experiencing is so that you can have real life in Him. :) I love you and miss you!