The One Who Sees
In the beginning was water and my pink and white gingham dress.
We were chasing Muffin, my older sister’s cat, by the creek that ran behind the milk barn near the sheep corral, and I was trailing behind my siblings. Before crossing the bridge, I broke away to the hundred-year-old cottonwood tree. Peering up into its canopy of chattering leaves that shimmied in the breeze, I ran my fingers over its scaly bark. An owl lived high in this tree, and though I had never seen him, I had heard him and knew he was there.
I hopped down the emerald bank to the creek swirling at the roots of the cottonwood. Barn swallows darted out from under the bridge, then scattered high in the cumulous-filled sky. I stepped closer to the murky waters while holding my dress from the muddy banks, curious about the leaves, as big as my cheeks, being drawn down in the small whirlpool.
Megan! I heard. Then I slipped from the bank and went under, unable to swim.
In elementary school, my swim coach would yell at me to jump off the diving board while he would wade in the deep. My toes would curl over the edge of the board, me fearful, believing that the stronger the grip, the safer the jump.
I’ll catch you, he would say.
I would jump and he would pull back, perhaps thinking that the best way to learn how to swim was to paddle as though your life depended on it. But I would struggle in the aqua deep while he would throw a buoy and pull me to the side of the pool.
In middle school, I would be on an innertube at the lake, surrounded with cottonwoods, on the west side of the family farm that fed into our creek. My oldest brother would be pulling me on a jet ski when, suddenly, a small wake would flip me into the forest-green water and the rope would tangle around my neck.
When I would float to the surface—fine, but spooked—my brother would gasp, Your neck! and tow me to shore. The rope burn, hot and sticky, would encircle my neck and reach up to my chin. My family would panic, unbuckle my life jacket, and make me rest on the marshy banks in the shade of the cottonwood trees.
I don’t remember when I learned to swim. I only remember when I was saved.
Because in my beginning was someone hovering above the face of the deep. I could hear him—he called me by name—though I couldn’t see him.
For under the creek waters that day, my eyes met another: my oldest brother’s hand illuminated white under the water. He drew me from the water and set my feet on solid ground.
For there has always been One who has moved across the waters, trading life for life, plunging the depths, drawing me, and raising me to new heights. My frame, with the former gingham dress that once clung to me, fell in pink droplets and I have been clothed in white ever since. On that eternal day, when I have crossed the banks and am at His shore of crystalline waters, when I am nearer to His feet—no longer revering from afar but swallowed up with the lapping tide, face lifted and cradled in soft hands—He will see me, behold me, and say, Megan! Good, I found you.