Clamped in the jaws of the roiling, frothing monster, I was tossed around helplessly. It spat me out like a useless bit of flotsam or jetsam onto the damp sand. Gagging and gasping for breath, I eventually staggered up, vomiting sea water. I had been swept off my feet by a monster wave. It had snatched me up, effortlessly tossed and hurled me around in the undercurrents . I was ten years old. My family were holidaying on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. I decided then and there that I didn’t really like swimming in the ocean very much.
That same year I had another frightening water experience . I’d gone to the local public swimming pool with my brother. He went off with his mates. I was happy to sit on the edge of the pool for a while watching others. All of a sudden somebody ran past me and pushed me in. I couldn’t swim. The pool was too deep for me to stand up. I floundered , panicked, but somehow managed to force myself to the surface, gasping for air. Too far from the edge to reach it, I was losing my battle to stay afloat. My brother spotted me and pulled me out of the water. I decided then and there that I didn’t really like swimming in pools very much either.
But I survived both times. I have ventured into the ocean and swimming pools countless times since . It’s not my favourite thing to do, but I can swim and float quite successfully.
For some reason these two memories surfaced as I sat to write the newsletter for this month. It’s later than usual. That in itself is interesting. My newsletter is normally published on the first of the month or as close to it as possible. This time its birthing has been slow and challenging.
This month’s theme is change and transition. As I ponder the connection of my experiences with near drowning, the two issues / similarities that surface for reflection are water and survival. Let’s consider them one by one.
The WATER atom consists of three molecules – 2 hydrogen, one oxygen. A triad. The number three can for example be symbolically understood to represent Body, Mind, Spirit , the Maslowegian hierarchy of needs, the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is purifying, cleansing, and of symbolic significance in all cultures across all times.
Water is essential to life. Our bodies are over 90% water. Developing foetuses of many species are enveloped in a sac of amniotic fluid. Water is intrinsic to countless myths of creation as far back as Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Our internal microcosm – the circulation of fluids (blood) in our body – mirrors the macrocosm of creation.
Purity and fertility are symbolised by water. The Christian rite of baptism utilises water to cleanse and welcome the child/adult into the family of God. In Taoist tradition, water is an aspect of wisdom. To the Ancient Greeks water was symbolic of transition – from liquid, to solid , to vapour. Metamorphosis and philosophical recycyling at its best. In Ancient Egypt the river Nile was symbolic of the vagina, or birth canal. There are three water signs in astrology – Cancer (purity, clarity, refreshment), Scorpio (mystery, stillness, reflection) and Pisces (depth, motion, life). The entire suite of the Cups in the Tarot is symbolic of water . The Reed, Alder and Willow in the Celtic Ogham are trees symbolically connected to water. The animal kingdom has many creatures closely linked with water and its symbolism.
The symbolism of water is deep and far reaching. In summary it boils down to –
SURVIVAL , according to the dictionary ‘is the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.’ A quick google search gave me 4,192,000 links to different types of survival guides. Obviously it’s a topic of substantial interest. To survive is to overcome. To overcome is to dig deep, be resilient, be motivated. In Survivor I listed qualities and attributes I believe I have to survive. Did they already exist when I was a child of ten ? Some of them undoubtedly. I had already been shaped by and survived a few major life challenges by then. Perhaps some are innate. And the rest we develop as we mature and experience more of life and its challenges.
One of the issues that has cropped up a lot lately, partly because of my age, is transition to retirement. Get this – when I googled that topic I got 32,200,000 results!! Now that REALLY is a hot topic! I wrote about this in the Nov 2015 Newsletter so I don’t want to regurgitate the same old same old. Any change / transition implies that something has become different. Experiences such as the ones I describe here have changed me. Undoubtedly. There is something about me that enables me to grow and learn from these things. The learnings provide me with the tools, experience and knowledge to cope with future changes in a better way. At least that is what I would hope will happen. And so far it has.
But just what is that ‘something’? Why is it that some people possess it, thrive and grow? Others crumble under the weight of it, become bitter, hard, shrivel up and die. Is it an innate ability some are born with? Is it something that is shaped as we grow if the environment in which we live is nurturing, loving, supportive, encouraging, motivating, empowering? I’m not sure I have the answers. During my life I have come across and read about people who have grown up in the most deprived and horrific conditions yet have become humble, heart centred shining stars. And others who have had all the privileges handed to them on a silver platter self-destruct. This leads me to believe that that ‘something’ – or at least a part of it – lies within.
There is another element I want to add into this mix. It is Grace and Gratitude. Grace is the unearned blessing which flows into our lives. It goes hand in hand with Gratitude for what we have received. I’ve reflected on, and written about this subject on and off many times. Today I want to revisit it from a different perspective – the seen and unseen blessing that flow into our lives. A couple of years ago I listened to Panache Desai on the Power of Grace .
It opened up a whole different perspective for me. It blew my understanding of Grace wide open. Up till then I thought I had a pretty good grasp on it. This was a call to get down and dirty and really live a Grace-filled life. No holds barred. Nothing airy-fairy or wishy-washy about it. It was about ‘walking a Grace-filled life in the swampy muds of life with gumboots on’ type of call. Having said that, Grace is soft, unconditionally loving, nurturing and supportive. Pretty mind-blowing!
Here are some of the insights I had –
- To ‘ride the raging river of Grace’ is to live a life that is full, rich, blessed – Heart and Soul full-filling
- To live a Grace-filled life is to be grounded, to experience Life through the Soul not the ego. When life is lived at the level of the Soul everything, no matter what it may be, becomes a blessing, an act of Grace
- To find the Grace in all things is to live life from the Heart of the Soul
- To perceive that Grace has always been in our lives is to perceive the richness of the blessing of Grace that surrounds us, always has, and always will
- To allow Grace to re-write my past, the story of my life, fills every aspect of it with Grace
- To perceive life through my Soul Eyes is to see the Sacred, the Hand of the Divine, in all there is
- To perceive life, life experiences as the Soul, allows Grace and its power, to do its job
- To see the blessing and Power of Grace in everything is to surrender to it and end resistance to life
The only conclusion I can draw from all of this is that it is the power of Grace and Gratitude that provides the foundation and enables survival, growth and learning through the changes and transitions of life.
“At its heart, grace is gratitude for all that is. Gratitude naturally results when you become aware of the events, processes, and coincidences that must happen to support your life. It is the realization that trillions of cells in your body all coordinate to give you life. Grace is gratitude for our blessings, despite our circumstances. Grace is gratitude for the gift of a blade of grass, the joy of a child, and the existence of the universe.”
This is also a response to Lady Calen’s Sandbox Challenge 42
© Raili Tanska