Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scary Sight, Good Ending

Yesterday I was at my favorite beach location, resting and reading in my car. As I was about to leave, a Police car, Fire Truck, and Paramedic van all pulled into the parking lot with their lights on. A minute later another Police car and State Parks truck pulled up.

As I looked toward the ocean, folks were standing looking out. Curiosity got the best of me so I went to see what was happening.

There in the water about 300 feet out was a lone man, waving his arms. He was being tossled by the waves and was being pulled out to sea.

The paramedics ran down the hill to the shore and then stayed there. One girl said to the one in charge, "Can't someone go in and get him now?" They couldn't. They knew if someone tried to swim in, they too could become a victim of the rip tide. The rescue workers needed to wait for the Coast Guard or a jet ski to help the young man. The Coast Guard had already been called to help and were on their way.

As I looked, I wondered what the young man must be thinking, seeing people on shore and no one coming in to help him. He must have felt scared, tired, and alone, and extremely vulnerable to the sea (and 54-degree temp). He couldn't know that people were working to get him out, and others (like me) were praying for his safety.

A couple of surfers (no one had surfboards with them - amazingly enough) ran down to the shore to try to get him to swim sideways, parallel to the shore, which is how you swim out of a rip current. They were waving to him like airport guides, signalling him to go to the left.

He was tired, yet he seemed to catch on and started swimming sideways. Pretty soon, he got closer, but as he swam forward and the wave pushed him, the tide would retreat and pull him back again.

But he didn't give up. Slowly stoke by stroke, he got closer, until about 10 feet out where the Paramedics and onlookers pulled him onshore. They gave him medical attention right away. He made it. He was safe. I felt relief and joy.

As I thought about this later, I started to think... When have I felt alone and vulnerable, tossed around by the waves of the day? Like the boogie boarder who lost his board and felt alone in the water, there was much help there for him. I know there are many people and universal help behind the scenes supporting me in ways I may never see. Something for me to remember.

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