I went swimming in the river this afternoon.
It's easy to get overcome with fears, especially with
things like water moccasins, stickers, heat stroke, and dehydration looming in the analytical and logical part of the mind.
The hurdles to having a good time in the water -- to just letting go and
swimming a few laps with abandon -- are many and they are tall. The hurdles fall away, though, when the heated temperature outside gives way to the refreshing river water, even if the water is the temperature of a tepid bath.
I've been practicing in the river and will continue this summer to use the river as a tool to connecting to my faith. I have very rarely seen snakes on the river. When I do is it a coincidence or a message, even and omen? What about with stickers? Heat stroke? and dehydration?
It is true that certain precautions must be taken. For the snakes I take my 75 pound Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Jack, who swims along the edge of the water. He's not only a water dog, he also loves to chase down snakes so I feel very safe with him there. The same goes with stickers. I always wear shoes. Still one may grab hold of a shoe or a piece of clothing so I'm not completely immune. Even still, shoes are a good buffer and decrease my chances of the pain of those little seed balls with spikes. For heat stroke and dehydration I always take a small cooler with ice water.
As much as I prepare myself before I get in the wilds of the river there is still a piece of me that feels like I am supposed to be scared, that I am supposed to fear the part of the river I can't see, the part of nature I don't understand. This is the point where it is important for me to connect to my inner wisdom, the place that senses or even smells the snake before it gets close enough to bite me. It's the same inner wisdom that says, "sticker next to left foot," and I hear it if I'm not engrossed in senseless mind chatter that's pulling me out of the present moment.
For the rest of the summer, when I swim in the river, I am going to challenge my current levels of fear and faith and open to new possibilities of discovery in nature, it's beauty and it's unknown.