I go down to the beach.
In my bag are my ‘must-haves’, symbols of my way of living:
a book to occupy my mind,
a beach mat and pillow to make me comfortable,
a snack and a bottle of water to satisfy my hunger and thirst,
a mobile phone so that I will not be alone,
a hat, sunscreen and dark glasses for protection,
my keys, linking me to my life beyond the sand,
some money, so that I need never feel powerless.
I come protected and prepared for . . . anything.
The sand looks inviting, but . . .
it hosts little biting insects
it gets in my eyes – my hair – my ears
it’s hot, it’s bumpy it dazzles my eyes, it irritates my skin.
I leave behind me on the beach all my life symbols:
the book, the pillow and beach mat, the phone, the bottle of water,
my keys, my hat, my dark glasses.
I walk carefully into the water, keeping my balance,
looking out for shells that might cut my feet.
I feel the coolness of the water around my feet, my ankles,
I experience its distinctive difference to the sand.
I feel the water surround me and take on my shape.
My belongings recede further and further behind
my feet leave safe ground.
A wave shudders and sweeps over me.
It is an instant and a lifetime.
For a moment anxiety sweeps in and holds me.
somewhere beyond my fear, beyond my control, beyond my fleeting terror,
the water is holding me, supporting me.
I am floating.
Like the woman at the well who left behind her precious water jug, God invites us
to walk empty-handed into the living water that is our yearning for God.
In memory of Susan Scully (14/02/1947 – 11/01/2015)