With the advent of summer and a new schedule in play for the summer, there will be times I will be pulling from the archives with some favorite blog posts from time gone by. This post was written in March 2011.
Gabriel was having so much fun in the water. He always does. He’d spent all summer in the kiddy pool at our apartment complex and today’s romp at our friend’s backyard pool was a special treat. Here the water was deeper. He could bounce in his swim ring and let his legs dangle in the encompassing water. He was bold, adventurous, confident. He was completely abandoned to happiness.
The picnic was set up on the tables near the pool. Adults were lounging, snacking, chasing after some of the kids and supervising the others in and near the water. My husband was sitting near the picnic table, nibbling and chatting and keeping his eyes on the pool. Eyes were definitely on the pool.
I walked outside after changing. I had put my dress back on over my swimsuit and my flip flops clung to my feet. I may have had a towel in my hand. And what I remember about that moment as I descended the stairs and took in the sight of my boy, my Gabriel, sinking below the surface of the water is this: a lot can happen in a split second.
A lot of thoughts can go through your head: I’m fully clothed. I need to get out of these flip flops so I can run. I’m not the closest adult to the pool. I may be the only one who just saw him slip under. What if I’m the only one who saw him slip under? How long will it take me to run the length of my boy’s breath? I ran.
It was a matter of seconds. I was not the closest adult to the pool, but I was not far away. I think three frantic-mother strides. I jumped in the pool and grabbed Gabriel’s slippery squishy self in a full body hug and pulled him up. He breathed deeply and clung to me as I leaned back against the side of the pool, taking a seat on the bench against the wall. I breathed deeply with him. Deeply, with thanksgiving. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
Please God, please God, please God. Thank you. Thank you. What else can you pray? I held Gabriel to me, took in his sweet clinging hunger for me, felt his grip and his shock and his fear and his movement from a state of blithe ignorance to a state of knowing more than he ever knew there was to know, and I thanked God. Thank you. Please God. Thank you. Please God. Thank you. It was the prayer of no words, of a hungering for the Holy Spirit to come and grace our situation, our own world-standing-still moment with His holy presence. It was a prayer of comfort, thanksgiving, petition, a help me plea to say I don’t know how to respond to this experience of the most intense fear mixed with the most intense gratitude. Thank you God, for life.
I shivered and I trembled and I held Gabriel for several minutes. Holding him was my comfort for him and my comfort for me, my confirmation that after just seconds under water he really was okay. My dress, loose in the water, floated around me and I felt simultaneously ethereal and grounded, other-worldly stuck to this spot in this pool in this moment for the rest of time. I couldn’t wait for the moment, the memory, to disappear and yet clung to it so I would never forget, never forget to hold him for the rest of my life.
This moment at the pool happened last August. I have not forgotten it though I do not dwell on it. But just recently Gabriel turned his soft baby boy cheeks toward me and said, “Mommy, remember when I went under the water and you jumped in and rescued me?” And my realization of what my tender three year old son remembers and thinks about and wants me to think about with him struck me full force. “Mommy, remember when you rescued me?” And of course I did, and I do, and I can only imagine that I will forever. The mere recollection of the rescue makes me ache to do it all over again, if only to remind myself how very much I love him.
We give good gifts to our children. We long for them, love them, find wonder in their countenance. How much more does our God marvel over us and yearn for our good! Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. (Isaiah 49:15-16) Our very existence has made an indelible mark on our Lord; we are His! How He longs for us, tenderly cares for us. Might He invite us to ask Him sometime, “Abba, Father, remember when you rescued me?” Because, of course, He does. Forever He will.