If you could do me a favor, I’d like you to imagine, as you read this, that I have a body like one of those girls from that surf movie Blue Crush… or like the super-model, Giselle. Yeah, Giselle would be good. Trust me. I just feel like this whole story will come off better if you can pretend that I’m sleek and athletic, rather than stumpy and jiggly. Let’s pretend I’m “lithe”, I like that word. Also, lets pretend that I’m a pretty good surfer. I’m not. At all. In fact, when I headed toward the water the other day, one of the kids we were with asked me (with astonished eyes), “Are you gonna surf?”
“But, Moms don’t surf!”
And I was like, “Well, this one does.”
But I could see by the way his 12 year old eyes were looking at me that he was doing the math: Body Mass Index x Cottage Cheese Thighs = There’s No Way This Chick Can Surf
Boy, did I show him!
Ok, actually, when I came out of the water, I asked him if he saw me “rippin’ it up out there” , but he said no, because he wasn’t paying attention and I was totally relieved because I was, in fact, not ripping anything up, but more like struggling for survival, and on very brief but exhilarating occasions, standing up on a moving surfboard.
Yeah. So, anyway…
I get the same bruise every single time I surf. Same bruise, same spot, same reason. Every time. I walked out of the water with it, throbbing along the back of my arm, this week. And even though it always happens, it still kinda surprised me.
It’s a good deep bruise, the kind that bleeds into the closest joint, making everything feel stiff and sore. The kind that reminds you, every time you stretch your arm or roll over in your sleep, that, oh yeah, you were surfing today… yesterday… earlier this week… You were on the water with your eyes stinging and your lungs burning off salt, and you slipped off your board into the sea -like you always do- and, as you tumbled under the waves, your very own board came back at you, above you, trying to kill you. So you put up your arm to protect your face and head from the fin that was racing toward your skull, and that’s when it got you, right smack in the same spot where it always gets you, on the back of the arm.
That’s how it goes every stinkin’ time. And this might sound weird, but I love that wretched, painful bruise because it reminds me of how I love to surf.
I love the struggle of surfing. You have to battle against the forces of the Earth just to get out past the break. You have to beat the current, and the waves, and the wind, and your own tired body, before you can let it all loose again to come together and push you back to shore.
Then, once you’re out there, there’s a moment of quiet. A time of Peace. Where the crush of waves over your head has been replaced by the graceful sway of the water underneath you. You’re just there, in that place where you wait for the wave that will pick you up, steady your path, and shoot you back to the sand a little faster than you’d like.
When it’s time, you can feel it rising behind you pulling you backward, upward. And then the fight begins again, to paddle ahead, to stay upright, to get up on your feet as white water surges behind you, and then all of a sudden… you’re standing, moving, surfing along the wave, you are flying free and fast, and you don’t remember anymore how hard it was to get there. You aren’t bothered by aching muscles or burning lungs. The struggle is over. The battle is won.
It’s not until your feet are buried in the sand again, and after you’ve caught your breath, that you feel the pulsing at the back or your arm, where the fin of your board laid into you, You can feel the blood pooling under the skin and seeping down into your elbow, but you totally don’t care because that’s the price you pay for the freedom to glide above the water. And it was worth it.
And that’s when you remember another price that was paid so that you could be free.
Today, I am reminded, whenever I flex my sore right arm, that we are commemorating the battle waged, the broken body, the shed blood.
Tomorrow, a moment of quiet anticipation, as we wait for what’s to come.
And finally, on the third day, a celebration. The freedom granted to each of us by the empty tomb, the battle won.
Now, I need to stop wondering if I’m worth it…