That Sinking Feeling

“Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink;
May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters.” –
Psalm 69:14

In the first semester of seminary, I over-loaded. Added an extra course in order to study with a visiting professor. Applied to the student newspaper, and wound up as co-editor. Picked up a work-study position, to make ends meet.

I was younger then, with more energy to burn. But there are limits. I was not keeping up. One day as I photocopied an issue of the newspaper, my faculty advisor walked by. “How’s it going?” he asked, not breaking stride. “Oh, just holding my head above water,” I sighed.

He said, “There’s no solidarity in that!” and disappeared up the stairs.

I wondered for a petulant moment if he actually wanted me to sink. And while I was only one of his many students, it annoyed me that my distress did not merit a moment’s pause.

It took a while for me to get out of my own way, and hear what my advisor was saying. Many of us, probably most, are inundated in one way or another. There’s good company — and understanding and support — among those who are struggling. It wasn’t until I was sinking that I began to know how fine a community was there, under the waves, faithfully swimming towards the next breath. 


God, you are the breath of life. Whether we are in trouble or beauty, you are the hope of our lungs’ yearning, you are the substance of respiration, you are the hope of inspiration, you are the rescue from desperation. Grant me a community of fellow-breathers today, I pray. Amen.

About the Author
John A. Nelson is the Pastor of the Niantic Community Church (UCC/UMC) in Niantic, Connecticut.