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Paul Hayden

Snorkeling and Life Savers

April 6, 2015

My wife and I went on a Caribbean cruise during Holy Week.  It’s not the usual way to prepare for Easter, but the plans were made and among them was a snorkeling excursion off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico. Both the cruise and the snorkeling adventure were firsts for us, and as we are both over 60, we knew there was no time like the present to check these items off the “bucket list.”

The day of the snorkeling trip, we both felt a sense of excitement along with trepidation at trying this new activity.  Neither of us is a strong swimmer, although we were assured that with a life jacket and fins on, we should have no trouble staying afloat if we stayed with the current. So the biggest challenge was learning to mouth-breathe efficiently with the mask and snorkel on.

When we reached our first destination, the queasiness about taking the plunge intensified.  And sure enough, when I entered the crystal-clear water my worst fears seemed to be realized.  In less than 30 seconds, I managed to lose a fin from my left foot.  This brought on a sense of semi-panic as it seemed that my snorkeling experience was maybe over before it had even begun, not to mention owing the excursion company some money for the lost fin.  And more immediate to the moment, I felt like I might go under at any time.  At this point, it looked pretty hopeless that either my wife or me would have anything like an enjoyable experience as we clung to the safety of the life saver ring.

Then the unexpected started to happen.  One of the guides managed to recover my lost fin and re-attached it snugly, along with snugging up the other one to ensure that neither would come loose again.  With that huge help, I relaxed just a little and started to peek in the water to see the magnificent view below.  Then, I gained just enough confidence to let one hand off the life ring and start taking photos with the special underwater camera my wife had purchased before the trip.  Still, we decided to return to the boat a few minutes earlier than most of the group, knowing that there was a second stop on the journey before we returned to land.

On the second dive, the instructor emphasized again the importance of following him, meaning the life saver ring with the flag posted in it.  This time, with two snug fins and the floatation device more inflated than before, I dropped into the water and trusted everything to work the way that the instructor said it would.  I relaxed somewhat and sought the instructor’s life ring and flag.  But this time I didn’t need to paddle immediately to the ring and hang on.  This time, it was enough to keep the life ring and flag nearby and clearly in sight.  And this time, I submerged far more often to take pictures and even a recording or two.

When the second dive was over and many of the group were enjoying drinks and snacks, I couldn’t help reflecting on the parallels between the experience we just had, and how Jesus works in our lives to care for us even when we lose our trust and sometimes feel helpless.  And how He can take what appears to be a failure in our lives and turn it into something wonderful. Most important, how imperative it is for us to stay focused on Him no matter where life takes us.

My wife and I will never be expert snorkelers.  But because of the great support and instruction we had, we were able to have a good time almost in spite of ourselves.  And we’ll never forget the Hand of protection that manifested so clearly in the beautiful waters off Cozumel.

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