Swimming Lessons

The body is designed to move and be active

according to Sister Dominique, who led the Bible studies for us at Les Cerisiers. She’s right of course. But being active is difficult when you work eleven hour days and take the bus there and back, and don’t like other people staring  when you do exercise. Whilst I was at Taize, I moved. Being back home, it’s not so easy.

My right side is getting worse. I’m tripping up more often, managing a spectacular fall down a friend’s staircase a few weeks ago, and my legs hurt more. I can’t run more than five steps now before my right leg buckles under me, and I have to stop and re-balance. I *need* to exercise.

Swimming is a possibility, because people can’t stare at my body quite so easily when it’s partly submerged underwater, and it’s an aerobic sport that physiotherapists say is okay for me to do. So, this afternoon, I went swimming at my local leisure centre.

I hadn’t been swimming since splitting up with ex-partner. But – found swimming  costume okay, and walked to the sports centre, and got in the pool, all fine. I learnt to swim in compulsory school swim lessons when I was nine.

I pushed off from the edge, and fought the water to try and move through it – goaded my right arm and leg into joining me in the endeavour. I didn’t get anywhere fast, and could only go a few metres before having to stop again. My muscles were so tense. I used to be able to swim lengths. Berated myself for not swimming more often, and having such a damaged body, and for being rubbish generally.

I watched others  gliding through the water, almost effortlessly. Next time I moved, I tried moving my arms and legs more slowly. I felt my body relax. I moved my arms again, slowly, letting the water carry my weight between strokes. Stopped and looked back. Over halfway across the pool.

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Local leisure centre 25m pool

Went to the deep end. Well beyond my (admittedly meagre) height, so no choice but to stay afloat – to trust myself to the water. But swimming in the deep water was easy. Swam back to the other end of the pool. And again. Spent an hour there. Enjoyed trusting myself to the water, and finding I could swim through it. As the water got deeper, the swimming, the trusting, got easier, the effort of it, less.

Have heard someone say that about God before. I know what they mean now.

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