A Christian Science perspective.
Clare Turner/The Christian Science Monitor
Splash! With summer vacation around the corner, lots of people will be heading off to the pool or beach to enjoy a dip in the water or their favorite water sports.
Yet safety is a legitimate concern around water. According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the No. 3 cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Parents of young children may be especially concerned.
Many organizations that care deeply about water safety are doing excellent work to raise awareness about preventing water-related deaths and injuries. Practical steps such as taking swimming courses and knowing water safety tips are wise precautions for anyone involved in water activities. Yet some people may wonder if even more can be done to ensure safe enjoyment of water sports.
For those who might be caring for kids at the beach or genuinely interested in water safety, it can be helpful to dive deep into spiritual wisdom to explore the prospects for divine protection.
The Bible is a profound source of spiritual wisdom that expands our understanding of God’s nature and power, and opens thought to God’s protecting presence. The book of Psalms is a collection of poems, songs, and prayers that reflect humanity’s yearning for a higher sense of safety and well-being. The Psalms lyrically convey how this yearning is fulfilled as we come to appreciate God as protective Principle, supportive Spirit, limitless Life, omniscient Mind, safeguarding Love.
The concept of God as protective Principle is expressed in this verse from a psalm: “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea” (Psalms 93:4). Acknowledging God as omnipotent divine Principle lifts one’s thought above the human picture of a random material creation to the spiritual discernment of the universe as governed by divine laws that hold all aspects of creation in benevolent balance.
Years ago, I applied these ideas in a moment of need. I was kayaking with a friend in an ocean inlet. After a while we realized that strong winds were sweeping us far away from shore. No matter how hard we paddled toward land, we kept getting pushed out toward open sea.
As I quieted my thought to listen for helpful ideas, the thought came to me that I should stay calm and pray, so I silently affirmed that spiritual laws maintain all of God’s creation in gentle harmony and security. I then realized that instead of paddling against the wind, we needed to feel our oneness with the tranquil rhythms of God and of God’s creation. Soon a kayak instructor near the shore spotted our kayak and paddled out to us and towed us back to land. I was so grateful. To me this was practical evidence of God as protective Principle.
This experience also confirmed for me the reality of God as omniscient Mind. I could see that divine Mind had given practical insights and ideas to each person involved, keeping everyone safe.
The realization of God as omnipresent Spirit, and of creation as Spirit’s sustained expression, is poetically portrayed in another psalm: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?... If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (139:7, 9, 10).
These truths are universal, supporting safety and revealing the all-inclusive embrace of Spirit’s sustaining presence. A young man in the Congo Republic prayed with ideas from the Psalms when he was at risk of drowning while swimming in an Atlantic inlet. He swam safely back to shore unharmed, understanding that God was the source of his strength. As the reflection of God, we each reflect spiritual qualities such as strength, coordination, balance, and buoyancy.
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Monitor, understood life as the reflection of limitless divine Life. She discovered through her Bible study – particularly Christ Jesus’ teachings and healings – and through her own recovery from serious injuries that this understanding opens up vast new possibilities for divine protection and safety. Through her highly successful practice of prayer-based healing, she came to know the Bible as “the chart of life, where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 24).
This summer, I’m cherishing the idea that all-inclusive divine Love is the source of all good, including swimming and water safety classes. Protective divine Principle is guiding boaters to use life jackets appropriately. All who supervise swimmers reflect the watchful divine Mind. Spirituality is practical, on dry land and at sea.
Water safety awareness that prayerfully embraces all humanity in divine protection is a powerful lifeguard.