Thursday, September 22, 2011

Skimming the Surface

“Here deep calls to deep in the roar of your torrents. All your waves and breakers sweep over me.” Psalm 42: 8

The other day I was on a retreat and there was a beautiful pond on the grounds. During some quiet time I went down to the dock and laid down looking over the edge into the water. I could see about two feet down before the vegetation and lack of sunlight blocked my view. Curious as to how deep the water might be at the end of the dock, I went back to where there was a tree o the shoreline with branches scattered on the ground. I picked up a long, flexible switch and went back down to the edge of the dock where I proceeded to poke the stick down, down into the inky blackness below. Right about the time the end of the stick began to near the surface of the water, the top of the stick hit the bottom of the pond. It ended up being about five to six feet deep at that point.

As I continued to lay there thinking, I began to swing the stick back and forth across the water in front of me in a giant sweeping motion, just skimming the surface, like making the stick skip across the water. I began to go faster and faster, using more strength as the stick jumped and skipped across the top of the water, causing really cool little waves and patterns in the water. All the while tiny droplets of water would spray into the air gleaming like diamonds as the sunlight hit them just so. It was all kind of child-like and magical until WHAM, I went a little too downward with my swing and instead of skimming across the surface of the pond, the stick plunged a good foot into the water below. Talk about almost ripping my arm out! But I was then curious to see what it would take to pull that stick through the water instead of just skipping across the surface. And so several times I would plunge the stick into the depths and try to swish it through. What I found is that I had to use both hands, more energy and that the results didn’t seem as spectacular as when I skimmed the top. No cool patterns or waves, no magical mists, no gleaming liquid diamonds arching through the air; just a tough struggle to pull that stick through the water and up and out the other side.

I think this is a lot like our relationships or our ministries. It seems easy and fun and cool to keep everything on the surface level, right? We can spend time with someone, do something fun together, work together, minister together, but not get too involved with who they really are on a deeper level. I’ve seen marriages like that, friendships like that, youth ministry like that, Mass done like that, kids treated that way by the parents. But when we have those types of relationships, when we experience that kind of prayer or ministry, don’t we yearn for more?

I know that we can’t—and shouldn’t be—truly deep with everyone we meet. But does that mean we have to be as shallow as possible all the time? I think people stay on the surface because things start getting messy when you break the surface. We start to let down our guard, we show our weakness, we share our pain and sorrows, we admit we aren’t perfect and that we need help. People stay shallow to protect themselves. But when we do ministry this way, or never attempt to go deeper with others, then we are missing something special in our lives. Yes, it is harder, no it isn’t as flashy. Yes, it requires more time and attention and gift of ourselves. No, it isn’t as fun. But in the end, the more we attempt to connect with people on a deeper level, the more enriched both lives will be.

Certainly God is looking to go beyond the surface of our hearts today. Have we let Him? Or are we keeping the Lord from reaching into the depths of our hearts. Maybe it’s time to open wide the doors to the deepest part of our hearts and let God call out to us and show us His love, so that in turn we can do the same for others.

Dear Jesus, I want don’t want to be shallow. Help me to go deeper with You today. I want to experience You below the surface so that I can relate to others at a deeper level. Amen.

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