“Peace be still” he said. Jesus stilled the waters and we marvel right?
But stilled waters scare me.
It’s not the crazy winds and waves that scare me, that I long for stilling. It’s stilled waters that terrify me. Bathtubs, buckets, beaches, backyard pools, bays and all. Please, God, don’t still those waters.
Those waters still and people relax and become inattentive, distracted, and then the waters become un-stilled by children whose cries are lost to those still waters. Those waters still and become like a fragile glass that becomes broken with cries of pain, not cries of wonder. At least chaotic waters mean we don’t take the water for granted.
If you are wondering why this sounds so full of sadness and distress, then welcome to my world of the last month, where our unit has dealt with unending submersions, drownings, near drownings, and parents heart wrenching cries and devastated hearts. No, please don’t still those waters Jesus. Still waters bring pain. Still waters bring the pain of children who thought they could just jump in. Still waters bring the distress of children who became too easily curious about the bucket of water. Still waters bring the grief of children whose cries are no more, or rather whose last breath was full of still water. Still waters bring the brazen annihilating silence after a child didn’t come back up. Still waters mean too much today. Either the invitation to helpless children or the quiet but pained grief after. It’s just too much.
Stilled waters for disciples in a boat brought amazement, still waters for the parents I work with seems only to mean a painful broken heart.
I know Jesus showed himself to have power over wind and wave, the chaotic deep and the gentle shallows. But where was he to still the waters that a child last looked into? Where was he to walk across the water and hold the hand of a sinking child like he held the hand of a sinking Peter? Water is supposed to be tranquil, and still water is a beauty. But tonight it feels like a nightmare, a fragile glass that seems only broken by the broken hearts it reflects. Tonight, still waters is not what I yearn for. It is at least not what I feel.
I have seen many children take final breath. Many of whom have died of terrible awful things. But almost every child that has drowned has hit me hard, because almost inevitably the parent or caregiver talks about the innocence of the water, the seeming harmlessness of it. But in the end, there was nothing but harm hidden in those benign places. Still waters could as well have been code for shattered hearts. This summer has brought so many cries of parent that could wreck a normal person. Tears that don’t stop, fear that won’t be suppressed, and pain that can’t be described.
For these families, I don’t want still waters after chaotic waves, I just want saved children. For these families, and for myself, I want stilled souls, not stilled waters. For these families and myself, I want no more cries from stilled waters, I want smiles and laughs rather than constant reminders of the fragile surface of stilled waters or the fragility of a child’s life.
God help us. God help me. God help us all.