I think I met my guardian angel at the pool today.
Five years since I outgrew my old swimsuit; all that work I’d put into conquering my fear of water gone.
I couldn’t even float, much less swim. And as to voluntarily putting my head under the water short of the water slide – nope.
But I had to get over it. I had to.
I wondered if God cared whether I swam or splashed. Sure, He wouldn’t let me drown but swimming isn’t exactly necessary either.
Anyhow, though, I was not going to just splash in the kiddie section again.
Either I’d do it or I’d hang up my swimsuit forever.
Tentatively, I dunked my head. My heart pounded in my ears. The water swooshed and roared.
When I surfaced with a gasp, she was splashing towards me. Dark hair and a pink one-piece, no older than five, one of those bright squooshy waterballs in her tiny hands.
She threw it; motioned to me, go get it.
Slowly I crawled through the shallow water towards it. My hand closed around the ball – did I do the right thing?
The smile she gave me as I threw it back to her was enough.
She threw it again. And now she told me to come down on the ball with a violent splash. Up and down, bounce through the water to get the ball, no matter how the water threatened my face.
I pushed my fear away. After all, I couldn’t say no to her smile – and it was only two or three feet of water.
Again and again we raced, splashing and grinning. I got faster as I grew in confidence, yet she was more swift and sure in the water. Sometimes she reached the ball first, and sometimes I did; and I never knew which would happen.
Then she had another game to play: stand, and then sit right down in the water, with a big splash. Nearly like fetching the ball, but without the ball and with a bigger sploosh.
Not too hard, yet a little frightening at first as the water swooshed around my shoulders.
But then I saw, as she sat in the water, she kicked and splashed – just like swimming. The motion pushed her backwards along the pool floor.
I tried it. Butterfly kicks, just like those swimming lessons of long ago.
It worked. I tried again to float: only three skills are combined to backstroke, and I now knew one of them.
All at once, though, she interrupted my attempts. She had turned her splashing game into a dance. Step forward, twirl, and then – sploosh!
She laughed and laughed as I copied her slowly. I couldn’t help but laugh too. She twirled even more, beckoning me to follow her.
As the lifeguards called quits, we finally did it at the same time. Step, twirl, splash. And laugh, bright eyes and bright hearts, laugh and laugh as we climbed out of the shallows onto the deck.
Her dark eyes sparkled. I wonder if mine sparkled too.
Her sister met me outside the pool. I told her how the child had helped me.
Sometimes God works in mysterious ways.
Sometimes the most unlikely people can help.
Even if it’s just to calm the nerves of a frightened wanna-be swimmer.
You’d never know it, but my little angel is afraid of water too.