There is nothing like the feeling of water—the coolest good thing sliding down your throat when you are thirsty; the blessing you get when you decide wet is wet and stop running to get out of the rain and let it soak you instead, turning your face upward for more; the way a lake wraps around you when you finally relax and let yourself float in it.
It is almost too big a word to write about, water. It conjures up so many other words: washing, cleansing, thirst, deluge, baptism, holy, pure, flood, waves, ocean, lake, river, stream, rivulet, drink, pour, fill, flow, float, bathe, drown, sprinkle. I’ve approached many times and quit, because there seemed no way to encompass it all.
But I can try to get at it in tiny droplets. Or maybe even a lake at a time. Maybe it’s possible to approach the meaning of water like a poem—let it wash over you, let the parts you understand soak in, and hope that next time you come to it more will make its way in. Because you certainly can’t carry it away in your hands.
I love what a lake does with light. Regardless of the circumstances, it always reflects. Calm, choppy, undulating—whatever state the water is in, it reflects what is above. Always, it shines back the light and color it receives, sometimes solid and clear, sometimes broken into a million diamonds so bright they hurt your eyes. But always, the water is giving back some form of what it is shown.
All the time, though, that it is reflecting, a lake is hiding something else. And how can you not love knowing there’s a secret world underneath? You can get glimpses of it from above, depending on how far the light penetrates. You can visit for a while, depending on how long you can hold your breath or what tools you have to mimic a creature that doesn’t need oxygen the way you do. But that world is not yours, and I don’t believe that all the study in the world would allow a person to know it, entirely. The fact that it is there, regardless of whether or not human eyes ever see it—does it make you wonder?
And what the lake is hiding, it nourishes. Light soaks through that surface reflection, or cuts through it in shafts, and there is life there: swimming, waving, floating, teeming.
Do you ever wish you could work that seamlessly—reflecting and harboring and nourishing what was given to you? It would not matter if you were perfectly still or violently wind-whipped. You would inhabit your space, live out your purpose without faltering. Somehow always at rest.
More in this series: Fern, Moth, Birch, Turtle Hunting
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