Holy Water

Saturday, June 11, 2016


I keep thinking about my grandmother’s 1980s pool, tucked away in a corner of Rochester, NY.

An above ground beast, with a pool deck badly in need of repair. A pool deck that I fell through, a fall that left my legs skinned and scraped, and found me wedged between pieces of rotted wood, dangling above the pool waters, toes skimming the surface. Waiting to be hauled up while the thick humid summer heated up my injuries.

My grandmother passed away last month. She was a fantastic cook, a woman of great composure and strength, and a staunch Catholic.

I grew up in a very liberal household when it came to religion. My parents felt one should find their own spiritual path, yet also taught us to respect the choices of others. My brother and sister and I were thus not baptized, it was left as an open-ended choice for us to make of our own accord when we were older.

My Eastern European grandmother did not love this idea as much.

To me baptism is such a beautiful and powerful ritual. A ceremony where one is immersed in water that symbolizes purification and or regeneration, concepts that are at the core of why I swim, why I sink into water in search of something healing, hunting for rejuvenation and hope.

I mean yes, also in search of a workout, but I’m sure there are other swimmers out there that would agree with me about this “other” level of enchantment or energy that being in water adds to one’s experience. And though I’m not religious, water is a holy place to me, where I can go to be held up, weightless in a sea that mirrors the sky. It almost sounds like a version of heaven.

So I’ve never worried too much about not being baptized, because in a sense, every swim for me is a baptism.

My grandmother probably would not have agreed… there is of course much more to a proper baptism then just diving into a lake.

But I keep thinking of the chlorine heavy water from her above ground pool, stinging my scraped skin as I slipped into the blue. Thinking about how the cool wet element took away my pain and cleaned my wounds and let the healing begin.

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