The Land of the Drowned

Have you ever drowned? Unless you’re a medical miracle or a water zombie, you’re likely answering that question with a “no” (if you are a water zombie: would you please email me? Your voice needs to be heard).

OR, maybe you’re clever enough to say “yes, I’ve drowned… I’ve drowned in debt… in work… in home projects… in regret…” Maybe now you’re imaging your own “drowning”. Perhaps you’ve drowned in busyness. Perhaps you’ve drowned in shame. Or a pillow… or you’ve done the drowning in beer or escapism. Given that expanded definition of drowning, about 99.9% of Western civilization would say “yes, I’ve drowned.”

I’ve drowned.

There are two ways to look at those drownings of mine. The first viewpoint presents the realization that I was saved from drowning. When I was lost in debt or shame, the life was being choked out of me. But before the deed was done–before my body was completely bereft of air–something fished me out of the water and brought me back to the surface. Maybe it was a lucky financial break, a new job, the vigilant care of a loved one, or some encouragement from a peer that pulled me up. Whatever it was, I took in air and resumed living.

The second viewpoint suggests that I never came out of the water. I died down there. But somehow I’ve been brought into new life. The debts, the shame, the beer: they all succeeded in choking out the old me. This thing that I am now (the water zombie me!)… this body that has emerged from the waters is something new. This is new life. That kid with the debts, regrets, shame–and lots of beer–still sleeps in the waters.

Where is the Divine in our drownings? Is God the hand that pulled me from the water and kept me from death? Or is God present in the angel who greeted me as I went to sleep with the fishes forever and said to me, “now that all that’s done, I’ve got an upgrade for you, kid!”

Have you seen the Divine in your drownings?


One thought on “The Land of the Drowned

  1. When we went white water rafting with the youth I fell out of the raft as you may recall. There was one nanosecond of “Well, this is it” that flashed by before they hauled me back into the raft. Someone said “Remember your baptism and be thankful” as a joke, but maybe it was more than that. Water is a great image of birth and death.


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