July 9, 2021

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Water helps me recognize God’s love and peace

Kimberly PohoveyAs I glimpse the first sighting of ocean water, my soul stirs. I feel the anticipation of approaching the gulf waters bubble up inside me. The stress I carry in my stiff neck and muscles begins to ease. I feel a peace wash over me. It is in this moment, a whisper beckons me to “be still and know that I am God.”

It’s always been this way when I have headed to the beach. I’ve been blessed to go to a beach most years of my life—whether with my immediate family while growing up or with my own husband and kids. As a child, I experienced the same excitement, then calmness when reaching our destination. I used to think it was the beach that elicited this response, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize it’s the water.

Vacations are good for the soul. For me, it is a time to relax, enjoy the presence of friends and family, but more importantly, to be still. Yesterday, I parked myself in a beach chair at the water’s edge. I closed my eyes. I felt the constant motion of the water as it tossed sand back and forth, caressing my feet. I listened simultaneously to the roar of the waves and the gentle whisper sailing along the breeze.

I sat still. This is something I rarely achieve at home or work. In the stillness, I asked God to speak to me. I asked him to work through me. In the grandeur of his magnificent creation, I experienced a God who is and ever will be. Emotion welled up inside me, a tear slid down my cheek.

I focused on the emotion and surmised that it’s the ocean water that evoked this effect. Today, I sit in a comfortable rocking chair on the front porch of our rental home. As I enjoy the rhythm of the rocker, I watch a few folks walk by—they appear cheerful as they wave to me. I observe a bird singing joyfully as it glides by the porch.

I hear my heartbeat slow while I concentrate on the palm trees swaying in the wind. I realize I see, feel and hear more when I sit calmly. It’s as if my senses heighten when I’m not busy—physically or mentally. I understand that God is in these moments.

The wind suddenly picks up, the skies rapidly darken, thunder rumbles in the distance. I watch as a gentle mist morphs into a downpour. I reflect that as a child, thunderstorms prohibited me from enjoying the sun, sand and swimming. Older now, they feel like a hiatus, as if God is telling me to stop, to take a break and simply be. Apparently, rain has the same effect on me as the ocean.

Later, I head for the pool. I float on my back, my ears underwater and my eyes closed. The sound I hear is much like when you put a conch shell to your ear. It’s a sort of cloudy hum, and it blocks the distractions of the outside world. I feel weightless, I feel peace. I imagine God holding me up.

I understand now that God surrounds me with water and uses it to help me recognize that he, too, surrounds me with his love, his grace and his peace. I’m still, and I know with certainty that he is God.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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