Sunday, August 21, 2011

Into the Rapids

     During our trip to the Tetons my family went whitewater rafting on the Snake River.  This was new to me, and for the sake of other newbies here is how it goes.
     The first step is to find proper attire.  Proper means lightweight fabric that dries quickly so you will not be sitting in heavy, soaked clothing because you will get wet.  Probably very wet. No all cotton clothing. Proper also includes water shoes because your feet will be wet, and they might be sitting in water most of the time (depending on where you sit).  If you plan on jumping into the river (you might have the opportunity when sitting in calm water), wear something reasonable for that.
     Sunglasses are a great addition because they help shield your eyes from water as well as the sun.  You  will get splashed in the face; leave your regular eyeglasses behind. If you wear a hat, secure it well and prepare to have it soaked.
     Forget about make-up.  Wear plenty of waterproof sunscreen.  Again, you will get wet....and the water is cold.
     Leave your vanity at home.  You will wear a life jacket (for which you might be grateful) and you will look a mess when it is over.
     Well, enough about that.  Fortunately I made pretty good clothing choices, and I am very grateful I did.  They really do help!
      To get to our boat we had to take about a 30 minute bus trip to Snake River.  If you sit near the front, pump the driver for info.  Ours had plenty of stories to entertain us.  Watch for osprey nests high on power line poles.
      Our boat held a dozen people, I think.  Maybe more... The river guide stands at the back, and three rowers are chosen for each side of the boat  Everyone is given a boat selection before loading, and hopefully your group will have some strong rowers.  That is a great asset.  As I understand it, the better your rowers, the less likely it is that you will capsize.  The rowers need to be strong and willing to follow directives from the guide.  They need to work together.  We were fortunate to have a great people with lots of strong guys.  No capsizing (that was about all my chicken heart cared about)........which was good, because our guide was a bit on the wild side.
     Other passengers sit in the middle.  I was in the middle of the second row back and my feet were in about 4 inches of water most of the time.  I wonder if the back would have been a better choice!
     The rowers have practice time in the beginning of the trip.  The rapids here are light.  This seemed to be enough time for our group to figure out the basics.
     Now for some real experience to complete the training. I remember watching us head into the first big waves and getting hit with what seemed buckets of water.  Not fun.  This happened 2 or 3 times before my stunned, chicken heart figured out I could turn sideways and get it in my ear instead.  A good alternative...OK....maybe I can handle this ....
     About this time the rowers began to realize that the way to traverse the rapids was to row directly into the oncoming water, and keep forging ahead no matter what.  It worked!  And so it continued, this seemingly counter-intuitive method to survival.  Eventually I began to trust this and I had fun, even though I was cold and wet.
     As I experienced this I could not help but think about how this is like the exercise of faith, especially in the trials of life.  First, prepare.  That means working daily on building a relationship with God.  When the trip through the rapids of life comes, sitting still in the water will not help you; at best you will be delayed in your journey, and you will most likely capsize and be swept away by the rapids.  Maybe you will be rescued.  The best course is to do your best to push forward into the rapids with faith in God.  That is the way through.  That is the way to grow in strength and courage.  That is when you will receive heavenly help.



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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.