I’ve never been much of a flutter-kicker. More of an arm-stroker. But when the masters swim workout calls for 100m freestyle kick, well, you kick. And it feels like an eternity to the other end.
Some people seem to have the gift of flutter-kicking, propelling themselves along like a speed boat powered by an outboard motor. Me? I’m more of a putterer. Not for want of effort, mind you. I’ll churn up a wake like nobody’s business and go NOWHERE!
Which is a bit embarrassing, especially if the people who share your lane are either piling up behind you or catching you up and tugging on your feet so they can pass.
Fortunately, today I had my very own lane. So when the workout called for a 100 meter kick, I aimed my kick-board dutifully toward the opposite end of the pool and set off with a mighty push from the wall. Momentum is underrated when you’ve an entire pool ahead of you and a kick like mine.
Now, I’d like to say that today I surprised myself with my torpedo-like speed, but I did not. No, I was much more like the Little Engine That Could. In fact, at times it was only the changing colors on the lane rope that convinced me I was moving at all.
Four navy, three black. Four navy, three black. Four, three. Four. Three.
Isn’t that how days feel sometimes? Like we’re kicking and kicking and going nowhere? Funny how something as simple as a friendly lane rope — which really is going nowhere — can reassure us that we’re actually making forward progress. And that, in the end, is all we really need to know.
….kick on, my friends. Before we know it, we’ll be there.
Oh, there’s something between us, Mommy, I can’t get to you! her eyes tell me.
I try, but the waves keep coming to get me, and the sand grabs at my feet. But I love you too much not to be with you, so here I come!
Stepping, then jumping then paddling then splashing the water furiously. The look on her face is pure panic. Save me, Mommy. Save me. The water is everywhere, all around me. Save me.
Her huge brown eyes are pleading and frantic in fear. Her paws are frantically splashing, her extended claws are razor sharp, gashing my shoulders, my midsection, my arms.
Reaching, alluding, splashing, eyes averted, my hands grasp and finally hold fast to her front paws. I lift them to my shoulders and her to standing; her back paws now established on the firm sand at both our feet. We embrace.
I am gashed and bleeding, but she is safe. We are safe. I turn her and usher her safely back to shore.
I don’t ask why she panicked. I know this fear.
I don’t blame her for my injuries. I know this lashing out.
I am rescued daily from such romps in the surf.
I know these firm hands that grasp mine to help me stand.
I watched Simone Manuel finish first in the 100 meter freestyle in Olympic record time then turn to look at the score board and put her hand over her mouth in utter surprise and delight. That girl just performed a miracle as far as she’s concerned, and in her after-swim interview, the first words out of her mouth were…
“All I can say is all glory to God.”
She went on, “It’s definitely been a long journey these last four years,” and as her voice began to break, “I’m just so blessed to have a gold medal.”
What a moment for this young woman! The first African-American to win an individual medal in USA Olympic swimming competition. She knows the weight of her position and the responsibility it holds. She has a voice on the highest platform, to address all those children of color who may now aspire to do what they wouldn’t otherwise have considered possible. All Glory to God, indeed.
So I’m surprised when I watch clips of her interview, shared on tv, online and on social media, that they begin with …”This is significant. You are the first African-American woman to medal … what does this mean to you, Simone?”
“This medal is not just for me…”
And the reporters are off with the story of the woman who inspires, the symbol of a movement, the focal point of a message. All to the good, but why do we skip to the “good” part? Why do we edit God out?
I know journalists do this. We edit for time and space and message. We cut out the fluff so we can focus on the nuggets. But in this young woman’s case, I think we may have missed the first point she was making. God made me as I am, and I’m good, thanks to Him.
Can we please start at the beginning, where she began? where we all began? which is why what she says and does matters and why what we say and do matters?
Thank you, Simone, for your heart for God and your courage to say so.
All glory to God.