Swimming Lessons (Pastor Amy)

I’ve been spending my mornings at the Windsor Senior Center with my children this summer. This is the place where the outside air smells like chlorine and teenage girls with their long hair piled high on top of their heads talk with the under 10 set about scooping their arms like they’re scooping ice cream and kicking their feet while singing the alphabet song. It’s summer swim lessons – sunglassed parents and grandparents and little siblings watching the kids learning how to do the backstroke and the crawl, how to float on their backs and how to blow bubbles in the water.

Swim lessons are non-negotiable in our house. Knowing how to swim encourages a love and respect of the water. I grew up in Florida, with family visits to the beach, and my spouse grew up in Washington, with family visits to the lake, so we want our children to love and respect the water. And, knowing how to swim can save you from danger. This is the non-negotiability reason for swim lessons. Not the love, which is wonderful, but for safety. You can love soccer and baseball and gymnastics, and perhaps those activities can save your life too – and I know swimming can.

My brother asked my children if they liked swimming lessons, and they replied no. He sympathized. “Me neither. I liked swimming, but not the lessons.” They both nodded in agreement.

Lessons are work. And once they are through and can swim from one end of the pool to the other and bodysurf a wave in the ocean, their bodies will retain the work they did in their lessons, and swimming won’t feel like work anymore. It will be joy.

Much of life can feel like work, and so can faith. We do need to do the work of faith, in order for it to be joy in the end. That doesn’t mean your faith can’s bring you joy even if you’re not working at it – of course it can, God can do beautiful bountiful things in our lives, even mostly when we least are prepared for them. And, when we do the work of faith – when we take time to pray every day, even if we don’t feel like praying, when we practice charity to those around us, even when we’re grumpy and dissatisfied, when we acknowledge God in all things – this is the work of faith. Then the work of faith is retained in our bodies and souls so that it doesn’t feel like work anymore, and we will pray without ceasing and love our neighbors, and experience the joy of the Lord and spread it around the world like a yummy peanut butter sandwich.

Wait, I’m mixing my metaphors here. Our joy in faith will be like that time when you were a child and you learned how to float on your back and you lifted your chin to the sky and closed your eyes and still felt the sun through your eyelids and your ears heard the swish of the water holding you afloat and for a moment, it was only you and the world. You had learned the lessons, and now you were living the joy.