While Americans were halting all activities, we were blissfully unaware of those restrictions and instead exploring the beauty of the underwater world.
The depths of the ocean are a truly magical place. It’s a surreal feeling to observe a 70-year-old loggerhead turtle eating amongst the brilliant orange, purple and lime green coral. We spotted lobster creeping along the rocky bottom, and peered behind coral heads to witness hundreds of beautifully colored fish. Even at seventy-feet deep, the colors were amazing. Some were bright turquoise, yellow and purple, while others were like chameleons with shades of browns that blended in with the ocean floor. As I gazed through my goggles to protect my eyes from the burning salt water environment, I realized just how minute we are in this vast ocean of life.
As we descended deeper into this ocean of life, my mind started to play tricks on me. “Do I have enough air? I don’t think I can breathe. I must get out of here. Now!” Those thoughts created panic and fear. Fortunately, my training prepared me for this uneasiness, and I knew how to counteract those irrational thoughts:
Breathe. Slowly. Breathe.
Check your gauges that monitor your air.
Look your dive buddy in the eyes for reassurance.
Training, trust in your equipment, and always diving with a buddy are essential to safe and enjoyable diving. Actually, it’s very similar to the Christian life: Training through reading the Bible, trust in God our source of life, and worshiping with a community of believers are essential to a faithful life.
It’s a privilege to witness God’s creation in an environment so drastically different than the one in which we live. As humans, this is not our habitat. We experience a loss of control as we enter into this very diverse ecosystem. Each dive unveiled another mystery of God’s hand, whether it was the magnificent eagle rays searching the ocean floor for food, a green moray eel peeking out from under a ledge, or a tiny drumfish flitting around a piece coral.
As we reluctantly returned home this weekend, the experiences of the sea will remain with me. I am but a tiny part of our amazing world. Only my breath, remaining calm, and trusting in God are what I can control. Those lessons will suit me well whether diving or living in these uncertain times. When chaos and anxiety seem to rule, return to the breath. Pause. Re-set. And peace comes.
By Kristi O'Connor
Communications Ministry Associate