23 June 2011

Just Beneath the Surface

I’ve been doing some thinking lately about what faith looks like. I’ve decided it looks like uncoordinated British tourists in Bouly Rockhole. I expect the metaphor is clear enough, but just in case I’ve made myself a little too obscure, allow me to elaborate. Or you could get over it and go read XKCD instead. Whatever.

Bouly Rockhole is a popular swimming hole in Litchfield Park, just outside Darwin. In the wet season, the current gets quite strong, but in the dry there’s still enough water going through it fast enough to make it really pleasant and not too cold. It’s a series of large rock pools, linked by small cascades and it’s one of my favourite places in the world when it’s not packed with loud tourists. Unfortunately it almost always is.

Most of the rock holes aren’t very deep. The deepest ones are maybe a couple of body lengths for an adult. But because of the way the water rushes, if you keep your head above water you don’t actually see how close you are to reaching the bottom. So every time I go there some stupid English woman swims out into the middle of the current, feels it start to pull against her and then panics. She kicks her legs around like an electrocuted cane toad, but can’t quite touch the bottom, so she gets swept toward the lip of the next cascade. By the time she reaches it, she’s run out puff and can’t do anything to stop herself being swept arse first over the waterfall. It makes me laugh every time.

The thing is, if she would just duck under the water, she would realise that she’s only a foot or so from the bottom. She could kick off from there to the side of the pool without any trouble and save herself some embarrassment and a bruised scapula.

That’s what real faith in a secular culture is like for me. When I’m getting yelled at by all three of my bosses because the three things they’ve asked me to do at once aren’t being done fast enough, I tend to freak out and start kicking around like I’m out of my depth. In the craziest parts of my day, it’s easy to feel like God, the rock, is miles away.

However, I am no stupid English woman. If I pause for a moment and go deeper, just below the surface, there He is, like He always is. I can set my feet, push off and start swimming again. No sweat.

It’s not a perfect metaphor. For instance, periods of intense reflection will not cause you to suffocate after three minutes. Also, living for more than forty minutes won’t necessarily cause the skin on your fingers to wrinkle up. Although I suppose that does happen eventually. Furthermore, in the great rock pool of life, whether you are sitting on the bottom or falling over a waterfall, there are no spaceships. And that’s a problem for me. My comparative philosophy demands more spaceships, both metaphorically and … aquatically?

Shut up.



Garry with 2 Rs
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