Baptism

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A transcendent moment I’ll never forget.


Lake Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada

October 11th, 2017

***

The arid landscape of the Okanagan keeps the air slightly warmer than the water, the encircling mountains shielding the lake from the worst of the autumnal wind.

It’s after midnight and I am gloriously naked in the lake. I’m stood in the shallows up to my waist, in water so still, it’s like black velvet. I know if I glance back, I’ll be able to see the leaping fire in its pit. There are people there, not many, but enough to give me a thrill.

Penticton glows along the opposite shore, but it’s not enough to drown out the stars and I trace the glitter trails as I sink down to cover my breasts in the opaque sheen of the lake.

I’d been expressing my intention to go skinny dipping all evening as people came and went from the worship group happening around the fire. Maybe it was petty of me, wanting to see their scandalised expressions, but I revelled in the soft-core rebellion I was cultivating.

I think the majority of people didn’t think I would do it. Yet, just on midnight, I left the final few stragglers sitting around the fire and walked in the dark until I could hear sand crunching under my boots and the low breathing note only made by a large body of water.

I shed my layers until I wore nothing but my skin and the night air. Walking into the lake, one deliberate step after another, made me aware of my body in a way I didn’t think was possible.

Even now, half-way in, I am hyperaware of each follicle closing tight against the cold, how the skin of the water opens for me.

Mud squelches between my toes and my stomach flutters with a primal fear that something will grab my leg. Instead of going back, I push myself further, the water now up to my neck. For a second, I can’t breathe. Then, I kick off from the bottom and let myself float on my back, open to the water and the air and the moonlight.

I am filling to all of my edges, truly inhabiting myself. My hands trace the shape of my body; the curves and dips, the solid reality of me.

Taking a breath, I submerge, the water closing over my head. A second later, I explode back into the air, head ringing in shock and cold.

I gasp, shaking droplets from my eyes. Then I laugh and laugh and laugh for only the night sky to hear, fresh and bright and free.

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