A two year old almost drowned… right in front of me, today.
She wasn’t my own; nor was I looking after her. But she was still right in front of me- in my direct line of eyesight.
I could have- should have– seen it. I could have- should have– caught it. But I didn’t….
Her mom did, thankfully in time.
As her mother gasped, I looked down. I could see her there, sitting under the water, paralyzed and unable to move. Her eyes were bug-eyed wide and open- staring back at me.
They had a desperate plea about them, silently screaming “Help me. Do you see me?!”
But I didn’t.
I had no idea a child was drowning right in front of me- less than a foot away.
I’ve held this notion for a while now – that we hear danger and accidents as they happen. That if anything should happen to my daughter, I’d be aware of it, because I’d hear it.
But today proved otherwise.
It happened in an instance- in silence and I was completely unaware.
So was her mother, for a time.
I couldn’t shake the thought all day. I tried not to personalize the experience – to make it about me– but the whole thing spoke clear:
Kailey, wake up. Be alert. Things happen in an instant and if you’re not paying attention – if you’re distracted by your phone or even your thoughts- you’ll miss it.
All love begins with the act of paying attention. Stay here. Remain in the present moment.
I’ve watched social experiment videos, where people stage child abductions … many times, right in front of their parents eyes. I’ve read blog posts about children who drown or run into traffic… many times, right in front of their parents eyes.
And I’ve judged.
I’ve made sweeping assumptions about what kind of parents they were or how they were choosing to spent their time, rather than watching their children. [insert exaggerated huffing sounds of disapproval]
Then today, I was that person!
I wasn’t on my phone. I wasn’t even having a conversation. There was no multi-tasking happening! I was sitting quietly on a pool step, observing my thoughts, when I failed to see a child drowning- right in front of my eyes.
It was far too easy and quick.
Evil may have had it’s way with her, but praise God, it didn’t. Her mom caught it in time. She is safe and very much OK.
But the fact remains: her story could have ended differently- perhaps, in just a few more seconds.
I’m one week into a four week sabbatical – a break from all work – plus, a digital detox. And so far, I’ve realized how often I’m tempted to pick up my phone; to numb out and distract. Without my phone, I see too, how tempting it is to numb out and distract- to instead, choose my day dreams and my thoughts, rather than my present moment… especially when I’m angry, worried, in shame or simply bored with what’s in front of me.
Time and again I’ve caught myself.
This present moment thing is harder than I thought!
But I want it- I want to make a habit of it….not only for joy’s sake, but for prevention’s sake, as today taught me.
It’s not my responsibility to save every child. I also can’t protect my own from everything. But it is my job to be responsible – to do what I can, to hedge her from protection. And that includes being present: not just with my hands. Not just with my eyes, but with my thoughts and my attention.
My intention, this present moment.
Lord, Help me.