Facing the Sky

Jul 30, 2023

Today’s post comes from Jen Murphy, Manager of Marketing & Events at the Center. In addition to general marketing duties, Jen prepares the schedule of retreats that are open to the public and she invites you to browse through our current offerings here! Let’s read about how Jen was inspired by this poem below.

As swimmers dareswimming analogy

to lie face to the sky

and water bears them,

as hawks rest upon air

and air sustains them,

so would I learn to attain

freefall, and float

into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,

knowing no effort earns

that all-surrounding grace.

~Denise Levertov

I am currently preparing for my family’s annual summer beach trip, which is one of my favorite “happy places” on earth! Vacation time is the one week each year when I can actually press pause on my normally hectic schedule. As soon as I smell the ocean air, I begin to relax.

Preparing for that period of relaxation is quite the opposite of calm though. Maybe you can identify with how preparations for taking time away from work, volunteer commitments and household obligations can cause a lot of stress? Today in the middle of my chaos, as if God was whispering in my ear, I stumbled upon the poem above and it provided the calm that I needed!

The opening visuals here really appeal to my senses – “As swimmers dare to lie face to the sky and water bears them…” Most of my time outside of work this summer has been spent in a volunteer role managing my children’s swim team, so I constantly have swimming on my mind! Although I can swim well enough to survive and I am semi-comfortable in the ocean, my children learned skills through their swim team that made them confident swimmers at a very young age. I still marvel at their graceful strokes in the pool and on our vacations they use these gifts in the ocean too. As I read this poem, I recall many memories of watching them floating on their backs when the ocean current was calm, facing the sky without a care in the world. They were taking a few moments not to worry about any approaching waves because they know that they would be able to handle it. There’s certainly a similarity to the image of a bird suspended in the air above too. When the wind is just right, birds seem suspended without any effort at all. That bird doesn’t worry about the air giving out on them.

The floating imagery of the water and air gives a weightless carefree feeling, doesn’t it? That goal of relaxation and ease is so comforting – it is a complete trust in the space that holds us. It provides a tangible analogy as the wave of water or wind beneath us guides us to the comforting embrace of God. So even when we’re in a rush of tasks, maybe this imagery can provide the weightless calm, the deep breath that we need. Our Creator’s grace is indeed always all around us, even if we don’t feel it holding us up. Today, I’m trusting that grace-filled water and air, knowing that it will all be ok. Can you?