The Body and Soul of Walden


This morning the paper reported a 32 year old man lay in a critical condition in a hospital bed after he had been discovered unconscious in Walden Pond late yesterday.

I pray for his body and soul and all those who love him.

I think this when I am 30 minutes into my swim, realizing I am equally as far from the shore on my right as I am from the shore on my left…
I am in the middle of this vast expanse of water and it stretches down into the earth a hundred feet below me while above me there is only grey.

It is uncanny how safe I feel, and suddenly how the exhilaration of where I am hits me. I feel a smile forming on my lips as I expel the air from my lungs. The water is flat around me so I hardly lift my head, only my mouth sipping air, clearing the water by less than an inch. I know it is imperative I stay with the rhythm of my stroke so I do not sip water instead of air.
I do not swim fast but for all of those 30 minutes I have felt the calm that comes with my body moving symmetrically around the central axis of my spine. I have heard of a psychological tool called EMDR which uses this rhythm to heal trauma and as I continue to move, my eyes exploring the endless water to either side of me, I know I am resetting my nervous system. I also know that the power of survival within me causes me to continue this rhythm, even as I think of this soul and what his last conscious moments may have been like; falling, increasing darkness, the fear of it all. I know that I cannot succumb to the fear that has sometimes grasp me when I have been in the middle of this enormous well of water; the times I feared for my daughter’s life when she was in hospital after her bone marrow transplant; the fear that she would be taken from me… (and she subsequently was, breathing her last breath while I stroked her face and whispered into her ear.)

So I think how fortunate I am to be buoyed up by the strength I find in Walden… that the freedom of being here calms and strengthens me and has taught me to find my power when I have felt weak and feeble standing on the earth. I think of Jesi and so, through the bubbles I blow I begin talking to her, knowing she hears my thoughts just as I know she is with me now, perhaps hovering unseen above me.

My fingers begin to feel cold. Especially the ring finger and pinkie on my left hand. I notice them, take notice of them, but keep going. Sometimes there is nothing to do but continue when adversity sets in. So I subsequently forget about the cold, all the time moving slowly toward the main beach, the beach house a beacon in the dull light of the afternoon.

By the time I reach the shore I am cold and I know I must change out of my swim suit and the short sleeve rash shirt I am wearing. But the cold is nothing really, not compared to the gift that Walden has bestowed on me. The gift of feeling powerful and strong.

This evening, I read that the 32 year old man who was found unconscious in Walden Pond late yesterday has passed away. That his soul left his body and is now free of pain.

I pray for his passing and soul and for all those who love him.



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