Friday, June 11, 2010

Respite and Refuge



"Didn't you say the thunder and 4 million watts of lightning were not due til 9 pm?" I asked, as we swam to shore, glancing at the huge bolt lighting up the sky.

We had been in doctor appointments all day and had raced out at 4 pm hoping to beat the inevitable summer late afternoon storm. We wanted to see dock site number 2 on our Tega Cay kayak launch/swim list.

LIttle children and older teens as well were speckling the bright waters of the little alcove beach. Mothers chatted with each other, merely glancing at the bobbing heads, with no apparent concerns. As we pulled our kayaks into the water, I did ask one teenager, "Have you ever seen the alligator here?"
She looked at me like I had 3 heads, and sidled away with her friend after shaking her head no. Apparently the alligator infestation had not yet reached this beach. I saw her talking with her friend behind her hand and pointing at me though, similar to the kinds of body language I used to get when I would wear my 10 pound belly pack. Would normalcy forever evade me?

The teen was too young to remember the movie , JAWS, but everyone was swimming unconcernedly then as well.
"Consider yourself warned!" I called to the teen.

Then Asherel and I launched into an even more beautiful section of the lake than the previous day, if that were possible. This was a more open section of the lake, dotted with small islands. The island had red clay cliffs with little caverns at the base, etched by the waves. Big sandy beaches lined many of the edges, wonderful private shady areas where we could bring a lunch and swim. We even had a new 10 pound anchor that was sure to hold the kayaks securely. I was eager to explore, but it was already late, and while the sky directly above us was blue and sunny, the sky on the horizon was dark and foreboding, with ominous billowing thunderheads building. We knew we only had about an hour tops.

We circled the island, watching Blue Herons circle above us. A group of young adults in a boat moored at one of the sandy beaches offered us a beer.
"Have you seen the alligator?" I called out.
"Oh sure," they answered, "We offered him a beer too."
Then they snickered, again behind their hands and pointing.

As we started back towards our beach, we saw something flat, floating on the water.
Asherel pointed at it, and for a flicker of a moment, I saw a tingle of fear in her.
"Does that look like an alligator?" she asked.
There was a rumble in the sky.
"Is that thunder?"
So death looked us in the face on two fronts- devoured by lightning, or by reptile.

However, it was not thunder, it was a plane. And it was not an alligator, it was a floating dead fish.

NOnetheless, we scurried back to our beach, riding the waves of the motorboats that skimmed by. Then we beached at our beach, with the signs that said, ""Do not beach boats."
Asherel pointed to the sign.
"We are not boats," I assured her, "We are kayaks."
but just in case, I loaded the kayaks while she swam.
And now, having earned my reward I raced into the water and swam out, luxuriating in all the Goliaths we had slain that day. And then I saw the thunderbolt, and we raced into shore. We piled back in the van just as the rain and thunder started in earnest.

This was a hard year, filled with some unexpected trials, and long long days of hard work. I knew we had several medical issues to tackle this month and I knew our summer was going to be busier than usual. But, what a blessing in the midst of all that work and worry to have found these moments of paradise, of utter joy, of thrill and beauty, and uncharted waters. Lightning was striking all around us, but we were safe on our insulated tires, driving out of the storm.

Psalm 9:9-10 (New International Version)

9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

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