As a young boy taking swimming lessons, comic and author Baratunde Thurston was certain he’d never actually swim. He did okay paddling around the shallow end but then instructors marched the class to the edge of the deep end. “I’m about to die at the hands of serial killers masquerading as YMCA swimming instructors,” he writes of the experience in How to Be Black.
Gasping and choking on chlorinated water way over his head, Thurston experienced what he describes as a miracle. “My body began to swim! I can’t say I began to swim, because I didn’t feel that the conscious me was in charge. But nevertheless, I was swimming.” When he finally emerged from the pool at the other end, exhausted but alive, one of the instructors boasted, “We told you you could do it!” Standing firm on the solid ground of the pool deck, the young swimmer knew a deeper truth: “No, you tried to kill me. Too bad for you, I just discovered a superpower.”
Transforming the deep, dark waters of mistaken belief -- our own or those collectively held -- is spiritual work that unfolds through our human experiences. It requires us to stand in truth. It requires our prayers and our presence. It can require a willingness to flail around in the unknown. Sometimes we dive into the depths expectantly; other times we’re flung kicking and screaming. Either way, the buoyancy of Spirit will deliver us to higher ground, provided we’re open to discovering the super power that dwells within. We are here to save the day.
P.S. I encourage you to stand with me in truth by joining the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism Friday.