When I see or hear the word beach, I recall the family beach days,
of my youth. We live about an hour and a half drive from Hanover
Beach located on the Ohio River. I went to this beach for the first
time, when I was in high school, with a group of friends. We had a
great time; I could not wait to tell my parents about the beach
because I knew, they would really enjoy it.
Several weeks after my trip to the beach, my parents packed up the
car and headed to the beach with several of my younger siblings. My
little brothers and sister took to the water like fish in the sea,
according to my Dad. This became their favorite vacation spot for
the next few summers; my older sisters and their families joined
My youngest sister and brother became great water skiers, to the
delight of my parents. While they skied, Dad piloted his boat and
mother road along to keep the other children safely inside the boat.
My parents, sisters and brothers enjoyed swimming, but I did not!
I never learned to swim as a young child I was afraid of the water.
However, I went to a rock quarry near home one day, a day I will
never forget. The No Swimming signs, warnings of the danger by
parents and owners did not keep us away. I made frequent trips to
our beach, and watched the other kids swim until one frightful day
when I decided I was going to learn to swim. I borrowed a yellow
two-piece bathing suit from my motherís younger sister and we were
off to our beach.
I ran into the water knowing it was only about a foot deep but
suddenly the water covered me from head to toe. I could see nothing,
I was under water; I was scared! I stood still out of fear knowing
I was in real trouble. I am not certain if I was more afraid of my
parents or of drowning.
Today in recalling the event, I believe I must have turned in the
water because my knee was suddenly pressing against something very
hard. It did not take me long to realize I was standing against a
rock, I lifted one foot and then the other; kneeling on the rock
I struggled to stand, pushing against the rock with my hands, and
against the water with head and shoulders I was soon able to gasp
a breathe of air. I was standing now and the water reached only to
my knees. This accomplished I turned and ran toward the sand, then
up the sandy hill, now very aware of the danger I just faced; I
had almost drowned! I realized I had sunk into a sinkhole, a very
common experience for one attempting to walk, or stand in the water
of a rock quarry.
I found my aunt while fighting back tears and I told her what
happened; we promised never to tell anyone knowing, we were
already in deep trouble. Motherís seem to find out whenever kids
ignore their rules and warnings. I was safe and we began walking
toward her house forgetful of our wet hair and bathing suits;
suddenly we looked into the face of my grandmother as she walked
toward us. Grandma did not smile but began to deliver a much
deserved, tongue-lashing; the effects of which lasted the rest
of my childhood. I never went to our beach again not even to
watch the other kids swim. Swimming was no longer something
I wanted to do.
Years later a worse experience occurred, mainly because it was
a nonsensical act of someone else, which led to a life-threatening
incident. I was with a group of summer school companions, at the
home of friends; suddenly pushed from behind I was in ten feet of
water unable to swim or stay afloat from fear. I had been sitting
on the edge of the deepest end of the pool talking with friends
and will always be grateful, to the one person in the crowd, who
knew I could not swim, not even dogpaddle.
As I bobbed up and down more frightened than I can ever remember,
I recall the feeling of letting go; I believed I was drowning. I
learned later, my friend saw me in the water, yelled to others,
ďFreddieĒ canít swim.Ē
Meanwhile at the bottom of the pool, I asked God for forgiveness,
believing this was the end, I was incapable of saving myself, I
I learned my friend and those who responded to her call dove
into the pool, and with their help, I survived another water
battle. Grateful for my life, I knew God was holding me in His
gentle hands, and would continue to watch over me and protect
I began to refer to God as my inner tube, saying, since I
cannot swim I will rest in Godís arms, floating through life
as if resting in an inner tube floating on water.
I began to believe, there was something God wanted me to do
which I did not know about. I began to believe there was a
reason I did not drown; I was alive because of Godís plan for
me. I believe God has a plan and wants me to trust Him; allow
God to run my life. God will always be there, if I just
respond to His love, hoping in Godís promises and faithfully
striving to fulfill Godís will. This became my plan.
I began to take my spiritual life more seriously; often I
would sit near a body of water and meditate upon its power
to overcome me; to pull me down and to take away my life.
Eventually, I began to compare the power of water to overcome
my life, with the power of sin to overcome my soul. I realized
sin could be more powerful than water.
My first near drowning was the result of the sin of disobedience.
I allowed myself to become jealous, toward all my friends who
could swim. I wanted to be like them, I did not want to sit
alone on the shore. The second incident reveals the suffering
our actions may cause another person. Lack of respect for
another or indiscriminate behavior toward another can lead
to serious situations. Making judgments without full knowledge
of why another does or does not act, in a certain manner can
cause great pain. Being aware of those around us and
acknowledging their differences yet accepting them as they are
is a lesson, which lies in this incident.
I am convinced water is life giving in many ways but for someone
who is unable to float or to swim, a body of water can overcome
life without intervention of God and others. I no longer have a
need to swim at a beach. However, I do love to go to a beach.
Beaches to me are a beautiful place; it is not the sand, the
people, the plant life or even the blue sky, which brings me
joy and comfort, it is the water. Water is a source of life,
a presence of God and a present from God.
Through the waters of Baptism, I received new life; it is up
to me float over the small and large waves on the sea of life
until I come to final rest on Godís Beach in the Heavenly Kingdom.