Night Swimming

In the early days of teenage years, for a couple of summers, two of my cousins would come over and stay with us for a week. They would sleep in my room and during the day we would run around – that space between childhood and adulthood where you wanted to do more but never could quite get there.

One summer night, my parents took us to a community pool for some night swimming. I had never liked the pool. Or swimming. But my cousins seemed excited for it so I went along. For all the chattering we did, that night we were a bit more quiet than usual. It was because if you floated on your back and looked up at the night sky, you could feel the weight of the universe.

I remember that night so clearly. I can feel the water on my back holding me up, my hair floating around my head. I can hear my cousin’s soft oh as she looked at the stars. At one point my cousin and I held hands as we floated in the pool, knowing that if we let go, we would propel into the giant universe before us. I felt so small floating beneath the stars, so small but at the same time…significant. Like the water that held me, cradled me. It was like God whispering, I got you.

The other night, I was driving to the grocery store without my kids. As I turned into the road, I was hit with this memory. Something about the way the breeze drifted into my window reminded me of swimming at night when I was 14. I felt a fondness for that memory, close to a yearning. But instead of wanting to go back to being 14 (because, ugh, who wants to be that age again once you’ve gone through your 20s), I am looking forward to one day taking my boys to the pool at night and hoping they float aimlessly and look up.

I hope for this for my kids. That they too will spend a week with their cousins in the middle of a hot summer. In those awkward years where you feel insignificant and lost, I hope they realize the magnitude of the universe, of the God we serve, and feel comforted in the same instant they feel small. In those teenage years of feeling lost, I hope they feel found. That they may feel small but significant. That the might and vastness of the universe catapults them into stillness. I hope they too get memories of clarity so strong, they can’t forget. And instead of wishing of going back, they look forward. The universe is big and vast, but it’s punctured with infinite stars lighting the way.