“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…”
~Isaiah 43:2

To escape the heat, I drove to the Yuba River to swim. It was a bit of a hike over dry grass and weeds, uphill and down, but finally, I made my way to the swimming hole. People of all ages were in the deep, clear water of the Sierra snowmelt. I waded in, the cold of the water taking my breath away. Slowly, I adjusted to the temperature and began swimming with the others. A large rock in the middle of the river served as a diving board; young boys cannonballed off if it, laughing and shouting to one another. I thought of the Maidu Indians who used to live here along the Yuba’s banks—living in a time more attuned to God’s rhythms.

As I swam to the deeper reaches of the river, I prayed silently to God: “Dear Father, thank you for this natural beauty you’ve created for us.” A lone hawk circled overhead, its dark wings in stark contrast to the brilliant blue sky. I tread water for a while, looking at the majestic surroundings. “This is true medicine, God,” I said. “Whatever ailed me today is gone. I am at peace.”

“I’m glad, Sparrow,” God whispered through the trees, the sound so sweet and gentle that tears came to my eyes.

I swam back to where I could stand up in the water. I stood for a long time, soaking in the tranquility of the afternoon until the sun began her march towards the other side of the world. As I hiked my way back to my car, in the shadows of sunset, I reached out and took God’s hand.

“I’m with you,” God said.

I nodded. “I know,” I answered. We walked the rest of the way in silence, my heart full.

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