“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” —Henry David Thoreau

Big Wave Surfing Teahupoo Tahiti

My car is toasty warm. I can feel the muscles in my back relaxing, made loose by the heat of my seat warmer. I come to the parking lot of a large Methodist church in rural Maine—snow dusting my windshield—and pull in. I choose a parking spot facing the road with my back to the church. I’m not a Methodist but there is something about this particular church with it’s large cross on the exterior coupled with the dual red flame insignia that feels comforting to me. I’ve parked here many times—never entering— finishing up phone calls with sleeping babies in carseats, passing time for one reason or another. I’ve seen their sign for pot-luck suppers and have imagined myself attending. It’s unlikely that I ever will. This is a place whose energy I’m meant to absorb through osmosis, I think. I don’t know how I know that what goes on in there is good, except that I can feel it. I find myself here after a challenging morning—a very ill family member on my mind. As I sit in this heavenly spot, observing a snowstorm come in less powerfully then predicted, I feel at peace. I take note of the absolute calm and groundedness that has come over me and feel grateful.

Never having really surfed, I think about riding waves often and how we may find ourselves upright and gliding at the most unexpected of times in life. I think about how this summer our sweet swimming lessons with Jonah took a turn unexpectedly and became more challenging. Previously excited about his lessons, Jonah, at a point began to resist. I didn’t blame him. His teacher had decided unexpectedly and without warning to suit him in a “bubble” floating device with less strength than he had previously worn. This change caused Jonah to inexplicably go sinking under the water, his teacher’s back turned toward him. It gave him a good scare—her delay in responding especially alarming. It gave me a good scare as well. And from then on, he struggled with the lessons. I tried to convince him that he was safe but he was understandably afraid. It made our journeys to the YMCA a little less enjoyable. I remember one afternoon finding myself using manipulative language to try to convince Jonah to join in his class. I caught myself and stopped. I was feeling underwater myself not knowing how to best handle this situation. The opposite of riding a wave. I just kept moving ahead. We played in the shallow end, Jonah enjoying himself there, with his little brother Adrian who lacked fear altogether and kept trying to swim away from me at less than two years old. My fingers were numb from the too cold water as I gathered my boys up and we headed for the shower. I carried Adrian right into the shower with me and (a first) he didn’t want to be put down. Jonah was occupying himself with the sprayer and Adrian had curled his body up on me like he was an infant again—almost as if he was going to go to sleep under the warm waterfall. I relaxed into his arrangement and then suddenly found myself riding a glorious wave. I pulled myself up and was gliding. Along with the water, a wonderful sense of calm came over me and I felt distinctly like a Koala bear holding her cub. I allowed for the moment to linger on and on. I felt cleansed of my words to Jonah. I felt like I was in a spa. I have long thought water to be healing, to be centering, and in that moment it was for me.

One day, I would love to have the opportunity to learn to surf. It is not a stretch—me at surf camp. I have put it on the list for when my children have grown and are ready to surf themselves. Until then, I will look for the many, many beautiful waves that come crashing through my life and be ready for when one of them sweeps me up and allows for me to ride along, joyfully and at peace.

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