The air we breathe is invisible. Unless we feel the touch of wind blowing against our bodies we would not even notice it around about us. We’re oblivious to the fact we are essentially swimming through our daily lives as air is a fluid like water!
Stand outside in the open spaces of a garden, woodland or countryside. We will take in deep breaths and feel relaxed as the oxygen comfortably rushes in to satisfy the energy demands of our bodies. This is our normal. Our effortless state of being.
Contrast this freedom with being submerged underwater! A couple of years ago I thought learning to dive would be a great idea and headed to Tenerife, booked an instructor and turned up full of enthusiasm for my new adventure.
Being a reasonably good swimmer, the instructor was confident I would take to diving like a duck to water! After putting on my diving suit and breathing apparatus I plodded into the sea for the first time. A few adjustments of the weights around my waist as I lolled to one side more than the other, then it was time to put the flippers on. This turned out to be more difficult to do than to say, and as I flailed around like an upside-down turtle I looked anything but competent. Once underwater we went through the routine skills and finished day one at the point the instructor had intended. I however, was not looking forward to day two when we would repeat these new skills in deeper water so I could progress and gain a PADI qualification.
The bit I really disliked was an essential part of the training. This involved removing my mask and taking out the mouth piece. Wearing contact lenses I had to keep my eyes closed when the mask came off. I did this fine in a few metres of water, but you have to repeat the same thing at deeper and deeper levels. Day two was at 18 metres below the surface. When the time came, off came the mask and out came the mouthpiece and I panicked! A fear completely gripped my body.
The feeling of extreme restriction, unable to see or breathe, and visualising the height of water above me as an overwhelming oppression. Every part of me had to stay tightly shut. Locked in, I felt alone. Frantically I signalled a thumbs up sign that said ‘get me out of here’. Then, penetrating this dark solitude, I felt a sudden thud as the grip of the instructors hand came upon my shoulder. I wasn’t alone after all and in the fraction of a second that followed the options I had before me flashed through my mind. I had two choices. One; to head frantically for the surface and likely drown with the effort or two; carry out the routine I had been taught. I made a good decision. My right arm swept around and collected and replaced my mouthpiece. Then I pulled my mask back over my face and repeatedly blew through my nose until all the water had been cleared out. I opened my eyes again and we swam on as if nothing had happened and that took us to the end of the second day.
The experience has remained vivid in my mind. The feeling of utter panic and the hand that touched my shoulder bringing me back to a sense of control.
Many of us have times when the feelings of loneliness set us apart from reality and our imaginations run towards a false picture of the truth. This is why it is so crucial for us to be in relationship. God said it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). We are to talk, and connect deeply through meaningful conversation with a trusted other.
It does not matter where we are, when we reach out we are never alone. After all Jesus walks on water!
His love is oxygen for our souls. Becoming more and more like Jesus is how we minister His love to others. Giving of ourselves and of our time is the most precious gift we have.
As we near Easter we can reflect on the actions of two who were present with Jesus on the way to the cross. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26) and Veronica who wipes the face of Jesus. Both touch the suffering Jesus.
Follow this link to reflect on the intimacy between Simon of Cyrene and Jesus in a painting by Sieger Koder.
Reaching out into someone’s life has the power to save them from suffering alone. ‘Reach Out and Touch’ by Diana Ross is the song I’d like to finish with as a final reflection. What can each of us do to reach out and touch someone’s life?
Father God, we thank you for Your eternal love, we thank You Jesus for loving us so much You suffered the cross. Lord we thank You for the gift of the people who reach out to us and change our lives. Help us Lord to do for others what we wish for ourselves. Let us not hold back from doing good. Let us learn from the example of those who on the journey to the cross did what they could to reach out and touch the suffering Jesus. Amen.