Recently I plunged into Minneapolis Park & Rec’s latest phenomenon and started swimming across Lake Nokomis. The lifeguards tow enormous orange buoys out for the course, then hover alongside in their kayaks. The first time I was ecstatic—such freedom! such a great workout!—except that, without my glasses, I couldn’t see the buoys and kept veering off course.
So I bought prescription goggles.
Now you have to understand that I’ve been both terrifically near-sighted and an avid swimmer since I was nine. When I got my first pair of glasses, I was amazed that trees actually had leaves. My world came into focus, and I’ve been grateful ever since. But swimming, in the Hudson River, in Adirondack lakes, in Minnesota’s many glacial lakes and at my beloved Y, has always been a blur. To me even clear water is fuzzy. Add my propensity to get ear infections and thus wear ear plugs, and swimming becomes an experience of sensory deprivation, or rather is entirely and intensely felt. I enter a watery cocoon. I sense the depths, the pressure, the air in my body. I disappear.
Sunday morning, however, I strapped on the new goggles and I was nine all over again. The buoy was brilliant orange, right there, bobbing on the surface. The murk of Lake Nokomis was suddenly clear murk, with a sandy bottom. From my back the clouds had form, the seagulls personality, and swimming, this movement I’ve loved all my life, became brand new. This, I thought to myself, is what it’s like to be born again, to see the world afresh, in all its glory.
I’ve known many miracles, a few even supernatural and profoundly transformative. As ordinary and as human as they seem, today I want to proclaim the holy miracle of corrective lenses. I was blind but now I see. –Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew
One way to ease the discomfort of writing is to do it with others! There are still openings in my Alone Together retreat at the Madeline Island School of the Arts this coming September 12-16. Treat yourself to a week of writing.
Things are gearing up at Wisdom Ways this fall. Join me for an introduction to spiritual memoir writing on Saturday, October 8th. If you’d like support and inspiration for sustaining your spiritual memoir writing, drop in on the second Fridays to explore a theme or aspect of the craft:
September 9: Journeys
October 14: Holy Play
November 11: Place
December 9: Symbols and Metaphors
Here’s more information on the monthly Writing the Sacred Journey sessions.