Swimming across the blue-green quarry pond in Vermont last week, and lately across the turquoise city pool in Kansas, I’ve found myself moving to a new chant with each breast stroke: beauty, balance, forgiveness, forgiveness.
Beauty is for all the beauty around us all the time, including the beauty of the water holding me up and yielding to let me pass through it. Beauty speaks to what I live to experience as a body in a body of water held in the body of earth and air. The light turning this way and that on the surface of pond or pool. The clouds scattering apart slow motion. The tops of trees only slightly tilting in a wind above that’s not yet below.
Balance speaks to what I experience when held lightly and freely in the water and also to what I seek in dry land living too. The balance that has to readjust itself when running uphill in the wind or trying to lie still enough late at night to catch the sleep train. The balance to perceive whatever is or isn’t happening two ways at once: as I experience it in the moment, habitual responses charged or not, and as it unfolds when viewed from another, and often wider, perspective.
Forgiveness twice. Why is that? I’m not sure, but I know it has to be twice, and I wonder if it’s because I want forgiveness for myself and all others, or forgiveness from self-imposed stupidities as well as the kinds of missteps that cause any harm to others. Or maybe it’s about asking what we ask for during Rosh Hashana — to be inscribed in the Book of Life — and also what we ask for during Yom Kimppur — to be sealed in the Book of Life.
So I swim into beauty, balance, forgiveness, forgiveness — each stroke a way to pull myself forward and thank my body and all the other bodies of this earth that make such grace possible.