The Feeling of Surrender

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Wave postimage

My family leaves for an impromptu day trip to our favorite beach along the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan. We're ready for a fun day together under a blue sky.

My wife, Toby, shakes open a beach towel. An orange butterfly spreads its wings over the dry and sunburnt sand. We set up camp.

Our two boys grab their yellow shovels and fill up their red and blue beach pails. They hardly notice the waves chomping at the shore. They're down on their hands and knees, digging for lost treasures buried in the sand. They exhume the dry bone of a bird.

But Toby and I keep our eyes on the water. We've never seen the lake move like this. Toby smiles and wants to wade in. I'm not so sure. There's a wildness frothing in the water, and I envision more terror than treasure lurking below its sea green surface.

I identify with the small crowd standing at the shoreline, studying and surveying the water's unusual movement. And even more with those who stand farther back, feet firmly planted on their beach towels, quietly watching the swimmers.

Maybe I should hunker down as a spectator. It’s safer. I could shade my eyes from the sun and watch the whole Beach Party, where the daring have fun and win cheers. But I'd just be sitting in the sand, mostly dry.

My wife has a great way of finding the party. She hears the music in the water. She needs to dance.

Toby knows this churning turbulence will be good. She tells me to watch her. She'll wave her arms if she's in any trouble. There's nothing to worry about, I tell myself, as she rushes in.

I sit down with Henry and James. While they bury my feet under a mountain of sand, I watch Toby dance in strong and mighty waters. As I listen to her shriek with hilarious delight, I hear in my heart how the sound rhymes with surrender.

So I decide to kick my feet free of the warm sand that has piled high. I stand up and wait for my wife to come back to the towels, dry off and watch the kids. There's something I need to face.

Something I need to feel.

I wade into the water with unsteady legs until the waves knock me down. My weightless body spins and somersaults. I can't tell the difference between rising and falling. I know I'm upside down when my head bumps the lake floor, just hard enough to make me think.

I can try to fight against the pummeling waves or I can surrender to them. Surrender seems crazy. Yet surrender feels right. Exhilarating, even.

I'm glowing, smiling, laughing hard. When was the last time I let myself go?

I'm moving and being moved. And I'm not in control.

I've lost those old lines of perspective and horizon. The water world spins and swirls me to the rhythm of something greater. I'm dancing.

Eventually I have to pull myself away from the dance and walk back to the shoreline. My thighs and calves burn as I trudge through cold water. My trunks stick to my legs when I come out, and my breathing is deep as I cut through the sand to my family. I know they've been waiting for me.

Yes, it's time to go. But now we will go home dancing, together, through strong and mighty waters.

Image by Nathan Gibbs. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post by Matthew Kreider.