“in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea … If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” [Paul – 2 Cor 11:26, 30]

Yesterday I spent time exploring some rock pools with my girls and nephews at Betty’s Bay, Western Cape Province. My family left the cove and I stayed behind to watch the waves.

I chose a spot which looked to be as near to the water as I could safely get, and jumped down onto it. The next wave, however, crashed below me and kept on rising. About 2 feet of water swept me backwards into space.

During the surreal journey of falling while gazing skywards, I seemed to have time to ponder on how exactly I was going to land – might it be a backflip, a headfirst crash, or a broken limb?

The landing was hard, but my lower back took the brunt of it. The rest of me hit the water. Straight away, the roiling waters lifted me up and dashed me onto a rock. I couldn’t grip and was sucked out again. The next wave did the same but I managed to hoist myself over the rock. I was taken again on a sickening, scraping, helpless up-down ride but eventually clawed my way above the waterline.

No-one saw my 8-foot fall. If I had been a few inches in any other direction I may well have hit my head and drowned. Legs are bruised, hands cut, my back aches. I am thankful to be alive.

But furthermore, I am thankful to be able to count the cost of being close to nature. This discomfort is for me a blessing of aesthetisation – the opposite of ANaesthetisation – which is the way of our protective culture, with its array of barriers between ourselves and the cosmos, between ourselves and feelings, between ourselves and beauty, and ultimately between the created and the creator.