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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A second pebble...

From my war satchel of wisdom comes another thought:

I can not achieve the ultimate goal of life, which is, by the way, Life itself.

I used to think I could, should, and definitely would obtain that prize. I thought I deserved it for being so good. People adored me because I was so cute. And all good things would come to me since I was so unjustly mistreated.

When I was about nine I went to Gillespie Pool in our neighborhood of El Cajon, California. My siblings were with me, somewhere, but the pool teamed with all manner of swim-capped girls and buzzed-cut boys, so we were soon separated. Nothing is quite so lonely as a child in an independent crowd of children.

But, I lived many days alone in my mind and now, comfortably developed a game for myself. I would swim across the pool, without stopping, taking as few of breaths as possible. It was a goal. Not a life's goal, but a huge task since I was a new swimmer. I decided to swim in water over my head, since fewer children played there.

I swam hard. One breath, two, then three, then...someone caught me by the ankle. It must be my sister, but I turned to see a teenage boy. I smiled. Did he want to play? Then I saw his face cloud dark with anger. He spit water as he spoke. "Watch where you're going!" He twisted my foot in his two hands, wrenching my ankle.

Searing pain shot from my foot to my knee. Fear and confusion washed over me as I sunk beneath the water. I couldn't get my bearings at first and then struggled to reach the surface. What if he was still there, waiting to hurt me again?

I couldn't remember how to swim. I sunk again and choked on the water as I opened my mouth to cry out from the pain and the humility. I don't know how I made my way to the edge of the pool. I hung from the side,crying mournfully as children screamed with fun around me. I peered from time to time in each direction, wondering if the my attacker would return.

I don't know to this day what happened to that poor kid. Had I unknowingly kicked him in the groin? It was a crowded pool. Maybe someone else did and he thought it me--I can't say. He was too mad for me to think his fury wasn't based on some injustice or harm. But, at the time, I only knew I had been stomped by a big kid--even though I was cute and worthy of his long-suffering.

How quick we are to dismiss our own short-comings.

My efforts to perfect my swimming techniques were trashed. And oddly, no matter the fervency and sober righteousness of my training and goal setting, I actually brought about my own failure--I guess. I mean, maybe there is a man somewhere in the world who lost a testicle in Gillespie Pool that day! Maybe I kicked right by him, totally unaware of the grief I had caused.

Who knows?

But this I do know- We all fall short of the glory of God. And that truth, my dear walking friend,is why I know none of us will reach that ultimate finish line--not wihtout intervention.


  1. Amen.
    We fall short in so many ways. If it were me trying to swim across, my head would be full of the images of others noticing and praising my swimming ability or 'cuteness'. There is ugliness in brutal honesty turned inward, but it is truth and it is the beginning.

    We do all reach the finish line, intervention or not, don't we? It's just that the prize is attained or not attained. Maybe I don't understand what you mean by the 'ultimate finish line'.

    Thanks for this beautiful walking friend.

  2. Thanks for responding. I don't mean to be obscure or create anxiety where none is needed. Sorry. The ultimate goal to which I was referring here is eternal life with God. Not all receive that and none attain it themselves. I will be talking more about this and the idea that there are duties and virtue, but these things are not stepping stones to the ultimate goal. They are, however, exttremely important in this life. Being good, truthful, righteous is more like productive character development for the path, not a key to the door at the end.