Water Walking

Water walking 2This morning I’ve been water walking. The temperature outside hadn’t yet hit double digits but the indoor pool was comfortably warm. Six weeks ago a surgeon replaced my damaged knee with a clever piece of technology that is guaranteed (well, almost), to have me walking pain free and limpless some time in the next few months.

The weeks after my knee replacement have been painful, and the necessary pain killers came with their own trail of side effects. Originally I had assumed that I would read my way through the weeks of recovery as well as enjoying a lengthy list of pre-recorded movies and TV shows. Instead, all my energy has seemed to focus on the present moment. I wasn’t expecting that.

Most of the books remained unread, the movies unwatched and those weeks became an experience of what I guess is meant when we use the word awareness, just being. It was confronting to recognise that I like my experiences of ‘being’ to come in small chosen, comfy kind of doses, not to linger with me all day, and quite often all night too as I struggled to sleep.

Rehab introduced me to weekly sessions with fierce looking exercise machines designed to rehabilitate all my knee bits and pieces that had been replaced by technology. Then, maybe as a reward for expending all that energy, my new knee and I followed it up with water walking.

Water walking helps me feel ordinary – no limp or pain. No crutches needed. The silky pull of the water supports me, offers me the possibility of a rejuvenated future, introduces me to others who also need healing.

While I walk pool laps up and down, backwards and sideways, I catch snatches of conversation. Punctuated by watery side-kicks two women chat, something about a shared operation, one three weeks earlier, the other due in a week. A heartfelt “Thank you for telling me that”, floats on the air.

An elderly man is lowered from a wheelchair into the pool and as his feet touch bottom he smiles delightedly and I return it. Briefly I am reminded of the man Jesus noticed at the pool of Siloam, waiting for someone to help him into the water where he hoped to find healing.

Moving towards the deeper end of the pool I find myself walking on tip toes, aware of the increasing weight of the water and with it the fear that I might lose my balance. The water is refreshing, but it is also challenging. Like Baptism. Having water sprinkled on my head as a baby hasn’t exactly give me a strong appreciation of the sacramentality of water. With that brief awareness I head to the safety of the side rail and the exercise sheet the physiotherapist has prepared for me.

A couple more laps of the pool and I tread carefully across the tiles to the change room. I’ll be sore tomorrow while the exercises continue to do their work on my slack muscles, but my water walking has stimulated something in me that feels fresh and alive. It’s been my pool of Siloam.

Judith Scully

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