It’s one of those stories that you tell in person. I’ve told a few people around the church. Listeners sat on the edge of their seats and leaned in. Will you lean in for this story?
My kids and I were swimming at a friend’s pool on Memorial Day. Both kids will turn into fish by the end of the summer. My daughter, Stephanie, practiced diving into the pool. My son, Tommy, he’d kick and splash in the water and then inspect the pool’s filter (He’s curious about how things work! Confession that we’ve watched You Tube videos about how to clean a pool. He’s a unique kid.) Another family was with us—Tommy’s best friend. One of the very few kids who loves Tommy and plays with him despite his differences. This friend didn’t move beyond the very shallow spots in the pool. With my son’s special needs and extreme busyness, it took all the adults at the pool to keep an eye on things.
Tommy’s friend bent down to fill his water toy near the deep end of the pool. I was right there when Tommy ran up behind his friend and pushed him into the pool. I leaped in! The child’s mother swam from the other end of the pool. As I scooped the terrified child out of the water, I realized a couple of things. First, adrenaline takes over in a crisis situation: I’m faster than I thought I was and I am a better swimmer than I thought. (I don’t like swimming. I don’t even like to get my face wet in the shower.) Second, I’m so grateful I wasn’t alone. One adult was making sure Tommy didn’t fall into the pool. Another adult was calming my daughter (who was perhaps more frightened—certainly more dramatic—than the little one who went in the pool!) Someone else helped my shaking self out of the water.
Community—friends, family, church members—community saves my life. I am held up, held together (and pulled out of trying times) because of the support of community.
I will be preaching this Sunday at a church in Burlington. The gospel reading is John 17:1-11, where Jesus is offering to God the concerns of a community faced with remaining in the world after Jesus’ departure. Concern for the community dominates Jesus’ prayer.
My prayer at the edge of the swimming pool was naturally one of gratitude. So thankful the little one was okay. And so thankful I have community. I have friends and family members and community members who are willing to jump in…to the waters of my life.
How has community saved your life? Do you know someone who could benefit from the love, support, and laughter of community? Of your church community or another? Do you need to jump in somewhere? To help someone or to help yourself?
May we offer to God our own concerns, yes—but may we offer to God the concerns of our community and the larger world around us.
–Note—it’s really hard to discipline a child with autism for pushing his friend into the pool when he’s watched adults and others push someone into the pool. We navigated this the best we could, teaching Tommy to “ask” people if they want to go in the pool. His sister likes being pushed into the pool. Mommy does not want to be pushed into the pool. So glad my kids and I were not alone at the pool. So glad we’re not alone in this world. Community—and God’s presence in, between, and among all of us—save my life.