Today’s guest post comes from Heather Kole, who is a full time American student living in Scotland. She spends her free time writing on her tiny mediocre blog, writing lists & running around in general panic. You can find more of her writing at http://honeybeau.blogspot.co.uk.
It was cold in the chapel. As I stepped into the shallow pool and looked at the Elder waiting for me in the water, I grew nervous. “This is the mercy water,” the tiny voice in my heart said. An instant calm took over my body and my clenched fists relaxed. I took in a deep breath and stepped into the water, feeling the tingling all the way down to my toes. The warm water washed away any and all sins committed before that day, and will continue to do so until I meet my Heavenly Father after mortal death. The Elder held me under to make sure every part of me was under the water, was washed clean. I mused for a brief second while beneath the surface. “This is the mercy water.” That single phrase stuck in my head and repeated itself over and over again that night as I lay in the spare room on my borrowed school dormitory bed. I was wiped clean of sin by immersing myself in that deliciously warm water and dedicating my life to my savior and my Heavenly Father. The water erased everything and created hope.
Water does more than we give it credit for. It creates the landscape. We drink from it, receive our food from it. Some of us die in it. The element’s greatest gift to humanity is its ability to transform. It transforms both itself and more importantly, us. While I was being held beneath the shining surface, reflecting on where I was and where I was going, I realized that this brief and perfect moment was only a small glimpse of the power the water had. The water was a representation of a process, a process of examination, rumination and most importantly, extreme and wonderful change. I was changing with the water, never stagnant, always flowing and morphing. Surfacing as a new person with new thoughts and actions. I was born again in that water.
I had spent all my days fighting. Fighting the river water that I was destined to follow. Fighting against the river that was my life. I had decided that I would not follow God. I would live my own life. I would be reckless. I would endanger myself, and regrettably, others. I clung to the reeds on both sides of the riverbanks, trying to avoid the path I was meant to take as a woman. The river I was fighting was sometimes gentle but always insistent. Though it flowed slowly and lazily, though the water brushed softly against my skin and wrapped around my spirit with a cool and loving embrace. I clung to the shore. I wanted no part of that water, no drop of it on my lips or on my tongue. I was drenched in something I was trying so hard to avoid. I was afraid, so very afraid of what would happen if I let go of the shore. I was so afraid of sinking.
When I dropped everything to take the opportunity to study for four years in another country, I knew what was happening. I was aware of the choice I had to make. I stood in the terminal of the Chicago O’hare airport and took in a deep breath. I held it. I held it and thought about the choice ahead of me. I could stay, stay at the riverbank of my life and wonder what I was meant to have done. Or I could let go and float down the snaking winding path and end up where I was meant be.
I kissed my family goodbye and took another deep breath as I prepared to leave, as I loosened my grips on those long reeds that lined the shores of my river.
When I was under that water, that merciful healing water, wondering when the Elder was going to pull me back up, hoping he wouldn’t have to dunk me again, and praying that Heavenly Father would bless me for my devotion, I knew. I knew that I was where my river was leading me. I was passing from one river to the next. Going from pond to pond, changing. Changing, morphing, becoming who I was meant to be. I was floating in my soft, sometimes scary river with the knowledge that whenever it seemed over whelming, I only had to remember that my Savior was the water. And I can trust that I will get to where I’m going as long as I am willing to trust and let go of the reeds holding me back and take his hand instead.