You how know when someone whispers it makes you prick up your ears and really pay attention? We immediately think it must be something important, something vital, something essential. A truth.
Last week I saw a lovely woman who can only whisper. There is something amiss with her vocal cords. This means I have to lean in close to hear her. It also means her every word is instilled with a sacred gravitas that only a whisper can bestow. I’m glad for this because otherwise I would not have pondered this story she told me.
Years ago, she and her husband took their infant son (under one year old) to the YMCA for swimming lessons. The instructors warned the parents not to freak out then they threw the babies into the pool. The babies floated to the surface face up. It was all fun to the babies but of course the parents nearly had heart attacks. I’m pretty sure those instructors had 911 on speed dial.
But cool thing is that the babies learned this kind of “self-rescue” so they didn’t panic if they fell into the water, they just turned over on their backs, floated and breathed.
I, too, remember that the first thing I learned in a swimming pool was how to float. The instructor said to me, “It’s a good thing you’re chubby. That means you are buoyant and that will help you float.” I didn’t know what “buoyant” meant. I didn’t care. I was too embarrassed that he said I was chubby. But he was right—I was the best floater in the class. I liked to float because it was relaxing. I could rest.
This got me to thinking that what we all need to do right now is float. Many of us have worked and prayed for justice and peace, for democracy and truth, for equality and freedom. And now we feel as if we are drowning. We are angry and find ourselves thrashing about, desperate for solid ground. We are exhausted and despairing and feel like we are about to go under any minute. We need to float. We need to let ourselves be held by God.
But how? It sounds so easy and feels so impossible to trust God and have faith. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives us the answer.
“In the midst of outer dangers I have felt an inner calm and known resources of strength that only God could give. In many instances I have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope.”
Hope. The “buoyancy of hope” is what allows us to float. Hurray for the chubsters! So let us be hefty with hope and fat with faith. May we be buxom with belief and tubby with trust. Let us be obese with optimism, corpulent with courage.
I like this idea of spiritual self-rescue. When we are exhausted and going under we know to hope and float and let Spirt renew and transform us. Thank you, God.
Thank you and happy birthday, Dr. King.