Last Saturday was a day of learning some very good lessons, the very hard way. My husband and I had taken our boat to a local marina to meet up with some friends for our annual boat safety inspections. We spent a wonderful morning hanging out at the dock while awaiting the safety inspector to tour each boat. It was a chilly day and as the last boat was inspected, we decided to return to our marina. The sun had given up trying to shine and a cold rain had just dowsed the area as we began to depart.
Since my husband pilots our boat, it is my job as first mate to handle the lines and fenders used in docking. I was on the side of our 48 Silverton ready to catch the lines tossed to me by those on the dock when things went a little crazy. Those in various vantage points would probably describe what happened next differently, but we all agree it was in slow motion.
(As a bit of a disclaimer, I’d like to re-mention it was very cold and wet that day. My hands were cold from untying dock lines and all surfaces were slick. But feel free to judge my lack of gracefulness.)
Apparently, and I yield to my friends on the dock on this point since I have no recollection of how I managed to do it, I missed one of the steps on the upper edge of the boat’s side. All I recall was realizing I no longer had my head over my feet and that I was going over the side of the boat. I tried desperately to grasp the slippery rail and line. For an instant, I thought I could redeem the moment and save myself, just for an instant. I don’t recall much about the 4 ft. drop into the 45 degree Potomac River. My husband did not see it, but from the flybridge heard the splash and saw and heard the gasps of all those on the dock. All he could do was maneuver the boat safely away from me. Yep, there I was, upside down underwater and actually thinking, “at least there is no ice.” and of course, “well, this is embarrassing”.
Meanwhile up on the dock, my friends were readying to help. Jorge had already discarded cell phone and keys ready to jump in after me, Nanny and Dianna collected towels and Richard was at the ladder. It was only seconds before I bobbed to the surface, but it felt like a scene from the Titanic. Immediately before me, I saw the ladder attached to the dock and began to swim. By the time I got to the ladder it took great effort to get up the first few rungs. My hands were cold and beside my own weight, I now carried half the Potomac in my jacket pockets. Thankfully, Jorge and Richard were at the ladder. I looked up and saw two strong hands stretching toward me and heard them yelling for me to take their hands. I told myself, I can do this, and almost declined their offer, then I thought how nice it would be to be on the dry dock and I grabbed hold. The next thing I knew, I was standing on the dock, dripping wet and engulfed in numerous towels and in Nanny’s tight bear hug. What an exciting day! Okay, it was a bit scary, for all of us. But the good news is everyone is safe and there were plenty of lessons learned. These last few days I feel God continues to press some of these lessons even deeper into my heart.
Lesson #1 You cannot save yourself when you get out over the edge. Yep, maybe if I had been stronger, maybe if it had not been freezing cold and wet, maybe if I had super sticky feet like Spiderman, I could have avoided falling. However, there does come a time when we must give in to the fall while expecting to get back up. There is a point in life when our energy is better spent on redemption and recovering instead of defying and denying.
Lesson #2 If you’re going to fall, and especially if you’re going to fall in a spectacular way, it is always best to do so in front of friends! Often we wish no one could see us fall, but trust me, I was thankful to have dear friends nearby ready to call me to safety, lift me up, surround and hold me till I could stand on my own once more. Of course, when the shock and fear wear off…this may take a while since it was such a serious event, but it will….no doubt I will endure a bit of laughter over my graceful personal polar plunge, but it will be worth it. Never be afraid to fall, just be sure to do it when your friends are looking.
Lesson # 3 When someone offers you their hand, take it. I can’t believe my hesitation, if only for a moment, in grasping my friends’ outstretched hands. If someone is willing to help you, even if you think you can do it alone, take the help. God provides hands of friends, family and even strangers to make your journey easier, safer, quicker, better.
I will not forget the lessons learned that day, but even more…I am mindful of how blessed I am to have learned these lessons with minimal cost and am reminded of the blessings that come with having friends with big hearts, quick minds and strong hands.