photo credit © westcoastwoman
If each day falls
inside each night,
there exists a well
where clarity is imprisoned.
We need to sit on the rim
of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
The tide is coming in. A long, hot summer day is coming to an end when I hear my neighbours voice. “Come on girl, get out here”. She stands waist deep in the cool water of the incoming tide and I lose no time in joining her. We take the plunge together, the one I usually resist until the last moment– letting go and going completely under.
Swimming out over our heads we start treading water and talking, a talk that soon turns to a version of one that is reverberating all over the planet. We speak of the human condition, the planetary condition, the white privilege that has allowed us to live and tread water under a rising moon on a beautiful island off the West Coast of North America. We speak of this and more as we slowly drift from shore.
I am facing out to sea and by the time I look back, the shore appears to be distant and I am starting to lose strength. The conversation continues as I change the movement of my arms and we both slowly move back towards a place where we will ‘touch ground’ again. I reach intermittently with my toe, longing to feel the safety of the sea bed. There are two conversations going on, one with my companion the other within myself.
I am a strong swimmer and could have easily floated on my back if I felt too tired to swim or tread but each time my foot reaches for security and doesn’t find it there is a slight feeling of panic and then palpable relief when my toe finally does find bottom. I am surprised by the intensity of both feelings.
Sitting on the deck later that night I realized how long I’ve had the feeling I was treading water–we have been treading water as a world community. There is a collective need for our toes to touch the sea bed and feel the familiar security and comfort of solid ground.
As we head back towards shore perhaps we are being called to dive; dive deep within ourselves and return with our particular part of the puzzle. No one gets to sit this one out. There is no ‘us and them’. There is only us.
A Call to Arms. Arms to reach out, arms to hold, arms raised with clenched fists in resistance and arms spread in surrender.
We are over our heads.
We are treading water.
The call is out.
photo credit Marc Riboud