If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.
So writes Philip Larkin. He’s got a great point. Across cultures, across time and space, water is an archetypal image. While I’ve been on vacation, the two women I love most in the world shared these two beautiful metaphors with me:
I am heading to the beach with my wife, Ginny. Reflecting on the waves crashing on the shore, she commented that you can’t run away or avoid the water’s power. Instead, we must dive through the wave in hopes of passing into the still waters on the other side.
I thought about how we must likewise pass through painful situations or losses in order to find a true peace. Diving through the wave is about confronting our fears and working through difficulties.
While backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, I followed my mom down a path that ran parallel with a steady stream. Mom noted that, while we were not caught up in the current, we were nonetheless present with the moving water and traveling in the same direction.
It is easy, I think, to allow relationships to control our lives, as if we have been swept up by a flood. Often we mean well because we want to be with people we love. But it is important to have our own sense of self. Walking along the stream, we appreciate its beauty yet remain on our own path.
I type these few thoughts while staring dreamily out my window on this rainy afternoon. That’s all for now: I am, after all, on vacation!
Here’s the rest of Larkin’s poem, “Water”
Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;
My liturgy would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,
And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.