I have an innate passion for young people. This is because I have children. It’s also because I saw how easy it was for adults to abuse young people during my formative years, in the workplace context. It makes sense that I’m now a workplace safety advocate and it also explains my former roles as youth worker/pastor.
I recall doing my apprenticeship as a 16 or 17 year old and maintaining huge water tanks in the north west of Australia. We’d occasionally need to get inside those 250 Megalitre tanks (and smaller ones) and make sure float assemblies and other equipment worked properly.
At times we would need to wade in the water, and we even fell into the water... quite eerie, spooky and lonely places these were; they were dark, big, quiet and wet. The image, if one imagines it, of swimming in a huge contained body of water is not too far removed from a concept I want to explore. It was a huge “room” of water.
In life we swim in many things, including thought. Some of us are forever plagued by the onerousness of a pervading beta-state thinking pattern by far and away most of the time. We cannot seem to escape our thoughts—we carry them, at times, even to bed with us.
But, there are some positive aspects in this sort of existence. We cycle in and out of our thinking like we cycle in and out of anything else we “swim” in; it’s seemingly inescapable. We move within the environment, around and about, but always we remain there.
And to turn this on its head we transform it into the positive—the only truly “good” way. We make this plague-some idea work for us. We get lost in the unfathomable depths of the water (our worlds we swim in) and we’re lost to a driving purpose that takes us well out of our depth—into even an unknown world, but we keep on going... “But now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross.” –Ezekiel 47:5 (NIV).
And it is in this place, far out in the river, that our purpose takes us—and then beyond. And it’s when we’re swept up in this driving purpose that life does not get more uncertain, it gets clearer. We should feel unsafe but instead we feel unbounded.
We get to see but a taste of the voluminousness of life; it’s so mysterious. It’s out of this context that we cannot escape the beauty of life—a huge body of being and existence—an environment to swim in and simply consider.
What looks big, eerie and scary actually is welcoming and positively alluring—it is not a trap. We then make the fear out to be what it actually is—nothing.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.