Day 3 of our Gustav evacuations had us breathing a collective sigh of relief as it became clear that the New Orleans area had suffered only minor damage. By Wednesday morning, my dad’s lake house in Northeast Texas happened to be right in the path of the recently downgraded Tropical Storm Gustav, but since we were on the northwest side of the storm we received only minor rain and wind. In a way it was kind of anti-climactic after hearing forecasts of torrential downpours and high winds yet it was a welcome reprieve from the typical hot and humid weather one finds in these parts during summer.
Sometime around mid-morning my dad decided a swim in the rain would be appropriate. Ezra immediately jumped on the invitation, getting out to the boat dock as quickly as his little legs would carry him. I, on the other hand, was a bit reluctant because it seemed a little too cool and rainy outside to enjoy being in the lake. But I ended up changing my mind when I saw what fun that Ezra and dad were having. So after giving myself a little pep talk, I jumped in. The warm water in the lake was a stark contrast to the cold windblown rain. In just a matter of seconds I was glad that I had jumped in. After swimming out a few hundred yards from the shore to our favorite log, I felt compelled to swim across the length of the lake. Though I had swam the length of the lake a few months before, something about that day really had me wanting to swim it again. It’s as if there was some kind of fear that I needed to face, some kind of solitude that I needed to find among the wind and waves. So, I said farewell to my dad and Ezra and started off on the mile or so of swimming to the other side.
I started out at a pretty quick pace as if I needed to get to the other side as quick as I could, but after about fifteen minutes my pace began to slow as I found myself in the more turbulent open waters of the middle of the lake. There I was, completely alone, watching curtains of tropical storm rains moving in from the northeast over the choppy waters that surrounded me in every direction. For a few moments my swimming became more like treading water as I began to take the scene in. Both fear and awe seemed to grip me in that moment—fear that the winds and rain might really begin to ramp up making my return problematic and awe at the shear beauty of it all. I was simultaneously all alone and yet very aware of the presence of God. My breathes between strokes became thanks and praise for the holy moment in which I found myself.
After another thirty or so minutes of swimming I made my way to the other side of the lake and back to Ezra and my dad who had been slowly making their way towards me. Ezra was eager to show me his newly acquired backstroke skills—leaving his water noodle as soon as I was in sight so he could make his way to me; reaching me after swimming in the wrong direction a few times. Upon our rendezvous we got the water noodle and made our way back to the dock. It was one of those moments where one feels how great it is to be alive. It was a surprisingly great day for a swim!