Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Come On In, the Water's Fine

I grew up close to the water and learned to swim at a very early age. I have been known to go in swimming very early in the season, around Easter, and not stop swimming in the ocean until almost Thanksgiving. I have friends who make it a point to jump in the ocean on New Year's Day and my oldest daughter, Emily, does a charity Polar Bear Plunge in January every year. Well, I'm not that crazy, but I do know that for me, water has tremendous physical and spiritual power. When I go careening into the waves, I am breathless and renewed. When I dive into a pool, it shocks and revives me. And when I reach into a baptismal font, the same awe and exhilaration are present for me. Water is life, and diving in always reminds me of how grateful I am to be alive.

Jesus finds a man waiting to get in to the stirring, healing waters. The man has waited a long time and simply asks Jesus for help to get in the pool. Jesus does him one better and heals him, inviting him to take up his bed and walk. He was exhilarated, breathless and renewed - and probably was a bit overwhelmed and confused. The healing hadn't come in the water but through the presence of Jesus. Adding to his confusion were the religious ones who pounced on him and scolded him for receiving healing on the sabbath. He spent 38 years aching to be healed only to receive healing and chastisement on the very same day.

Today, I want to remember that even when we have experienced healing, even as our bodies and spirits are renewed, we can feel challenged and confused. Sometimes the brokenness is more familiar than the healing. Sometimes we get used to being stuck, last one into the pool. We don't know how to live into this new found life. I want to offer an extra measure of patience for others and myself as we learn to live by faith and not by the dictates of the world. I want to welcome kindness where once we lived by failure, shame and judgment. God's love, the touch of Jesus, invites us to live as new and renewed beings, where the water is fine and the brokenness is restored. But legs and hearts that have not worked well need time to relearn to walk and to love. May we all recognize that we are all learning to walk and love together, guided by Christ's light, the light of love.

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