I’ve been on holidays. Whew! I really needed a different pace!
Barry and Theseus and Auggie and I went to a cabin at Madge Lake for a few nights. We relaxed, played some games, walked part of the Trans Canada Trail, saw lightning bugs, and I got to go swimming several times. We came home and a few days later the other three drove me to Little Manitou Lake for a couple of days on my own. Little Manitou has very high levels of salt and minerals, like the Dead Sea. Like the Dead Sea, it’s quite difficult to sink. Or swim, as it turns out. I had to develop some hybrid, swim-like motions to try to keep my limbs under the water while waving them about to try to make some forward progress. It was weird. And very cool.
I love water. I love being in the water. Maybe it’s because I’m an Aquarius. Maybe because I was born next to the Atlantic Ocean and did most of my growing up on the shores of Lake Huron. Whatever the cause, I feel at peace, at home and comfortable in water. That’s why I chose to go to Little Manitou for my personal retreat: I really wanted to have access to water.
On my last morning on my own, it was very overcast and chilly. Rather than go to the beach, I went to the spa a block away and paid to go into the warmed indoor pool. Whereas the lake had quite a lot of “floaties” (algae?) and seaweed, the pool was clean. I felt a little more comfortable experimenting with just how buoyant I was in this magical water. What an incredible experience!
I wanted to test how relaxed I could be and still float so I laid on my back and relaxed. Well, I thought I was relaxing. I soon realized I was tensing my stomach muscles to keep my body flat on the surface. I had to consciously release those muscles. After a little, I realized I was still flexing my leg muscles to hold them on the surface. Relax. Relax. Finally, I was aware that I was holding my head up out of the water. Could this really be buoyant enough to hold up my head, skull and all? Nothing for it but to try. Still consciously keeping the rest of me loose, I let my head sink into the water. Except it didn’t sink. Not all the way, anyway; just to my ears. Now I was really, actually floating without any effort on my part.
I just lay there staring up at the rafters for a while. Then I was afraid I might be drifting towards someone, so got up. Nope, no one around. I put myself in a bit of a corner, oriented myself to the rafter directly above and floated again. It turns out that when your body isn’t doing anything and is able to just be, your mind has a chance to be engaged in a new way. I was meditating in a public pool with people all around.
I reached out to touch metaphorical hands with the Spirit and she was right there. She reminded me that our Tapestry community has often made reference to God’s love being like an ocean. When I started with that image years ago, I only got as far as imagining scooping up a teacupful of that love and drinking it in. Floating in the pool, I was imagining relaxing into that love, being held up by it, surrounded by it, carried by it. Physically, I had to become aware of different parts of my body that were trying to keep me afloat when it wasn’t necessary. The past years and on into the future has been and will continue to be a process of becoming aware of the spiritual muscles I keep tense trying to hold myself up and then releasing them from their work to float on this ocean of love.
I don’t think I’ll ever be done this work until I’m in the presence of the Divine Family and know them truly without any interference from my pain and trauma. The experience of floating effortlessly, doing nothing to help it along or deserve it, will be an image for me in my ongoing process of being surrounded and held up by the unending ocean of the Divine Family’s love.
If you’d like to experience this same physical sensation, I encourage you to try it. For those in Saskatchewan, Little Manitou isn’t too far away. If you can’t make the trip to the actual lake, do a little thought experiment. Lie on your bed, close your eyes and relax. After a few moments, take stock: what’s still tense? Repeat until you’ve surrendered yourself entirely to your mattress. And imagine you’re lying in God’s love for you, held up without effort, comfortable and settled. Just stay present with that; fall asleep if that’s what happens. When you get up, take the experience with you and feel that love supporting you, carrying you, through your days.
I’d love to hear how it goes.