Erenlai - 按日期過濾項目: 週二, 12 五 2009
週三, 13 五 2009 01:05

Diving and Praying

In my youth and my teens, water was the symbol and the bearer of death - a primal element arising from primal fears. I truly learned to swim only when I was eighteen, which afterwards I did take much pleasure in . A few years ago, a friend introduced me to diving. I tried it two or three times, and then no more, because – because… Do I know? The instructor was a bit rough, the weather on the shore was intolerably hot and the cost rather high for me – and, yes, because the experience had reawaken one of my ancient fears – though I marveled so much at what I saw that the light, rocks and creatures of the sea became the very stuff of my dreams. Besides, I went snorkelling a couple of times, and, again, images of reefs and of black, white, blue fishes engraved themselves in my dreams and my memory.
This is to say that I am certainly not authorized to write anything about diving… which is not what I intended to do anyway. It just happens that the mixture of fear and sense of marvel caused by my tiny experience of water and sea resonating deep in me these days, and makes me reflect upon the way to enter prayer and, to somehow approach and express the Divine.

Both my parents were teachers. It means that we were privileged enough to spend two months of summer vacations as a family. In July, we went to the mountains (the Alps or the Pyrenees). In August, we stayed for a short period at my grandmother’s place in Boulogne, a little town on the Channel that separates the coasts of France from the ones of England, which you can see when the weather is fair (this is rarely the case…) Though I was not a swimmer, I loved entering the powerful and noisy waves, wandering along the rocks, and contemplating on the shore the intricate artworks that water and sand ceaselessly create together. Still, for a long time these experiences, it seems, did not stay with me. Mountains were the realm in which my body, my mind and my soul were breathing at ease, they were also the place where my life projects came to light, and they provided me with the basic metaphors and insights with which to draw a spiritual path. So, for long, God has been the mountain to ascend.

Not so these days it seems. I suspect that my recollections of the sea have become recently so pregnant (despite being so limited in scope) that they must signal some kind of spiritual shift. As if God’s ladder is now less to be ascended than descended… Higher or deeper, there are still abysses to explore. And yet, it remains true that I fear less the ascent to the top than the descent into the sea. I always found the idea of dying in the open air a comforting one, while the thought of being drowned terrifies me. But here is the little insight that the simple fact of plunging the head into the water has finally brought to me: though water may inspire images of death, when you dare to look into it you discover new forms of life, a variety of colors and shapes that was unknown to you before. The more you let it go, the more docile and united with water you become, the larger and more fulfilling this life experience proves to be. The same is true with the discovery of God coming from the entry into prayer.

Even when we pretend that we give love and reverence to a God above us, fear and resentment generally dominate our subconscious. God is the water that surrounds our islands – an all-powerful force, a primal element, but still a force to be avoided and domesticated – a force of death. You have to plunge into the water of the soul, into the oceanic silence of the divine abyss that dwells within you for discovering that the sea nurtures life, a form of life so similar and yet so different from the one that occurs on the shore, a form of life in which you find within you the deep breath that at first you thought you had lost forever.

God might be the mountain to be ascended through effort and slow progress, but still, these days He looks to me more like the silent depth of the sea which proves to be so rich in life, shapes and colors beyond the hypnotic threshold of fear, death and suffocation. I sill enjoy the shore, the wind and the rocks, but I might try again to put resolutely my head below the waves, and then open my eyes to the wonders that my terrors still forbid me to see.

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