I’ve always felt at home in the water, refreshed, reconnected to something at my core. In Maggie Shipstead’s Seating Arrangements, there’s this great passage:

Whatever the root of Biddy’s affinity for water, as long as Winn had known her, she had been able to submerge herself and come out, if not entirely healed, at least calmed, her mood rubbed smooth.

We had two wonderful water days last week. First we eeked out one last day at the waterpark with the kids and Uncle Kenny. It was pushing it, last day of the season. Cool and breezy. Almost too chilly, except we kept plunging into the wave pool, lazy river, and the occasional heart-pounding “watercoaster.” Height limits keep us from letting Jaden plunge down most of these, but he’s planning to make 44″ tall by next summer to be legal for the big rides.

Yes Uncle Kenny and I plunged down this terrifying funnel.

Yes Uncle Kenny and I plunged down this terrifying funnel.

Then Thursday we had an all-ages Rosh Hashanah at Lake Anza, which was lovely. A short service in the meadow, followed by “sand sculpture” and Tashlikh, throwing bread into the water to let go of the year’s sins and prepare for the new year.

The timing was a bit magic, as I’ve been thinking that it’s time to bring more spirituality into our family’s life, but hadn’t been sure how to do it. It’s one thing as an individual to have a strong personal spirituality and a kind of confused eclectic mish-mash of beliefs. I’m sure some core of that is being transmitted to the kids. But it’s not the same as an active, concrete expression of belief that a church or synagogue or wiccan prayer circle offer. The rituals offer our kids something tangible. While as an adult I’ve had a complex relationship with churches, my childhood memories of church are strong, warm, and comforting.

I’d done a little shopping around. No offense to the wonderful Unitarians who were so kind and welcoming, but despite how much I liked their intellect, politics, and community, their services felt cereberal. Maybe if they’d had a hymn from my childhood it would have nabbed me, but it didn’t.

The Rosh Hashanah songs felt familiar and comforting. How is that possible? I didn’t meet a Jew until high school, and couldn’t have heard these songs before. But something stirred me deeply. Jaden started humming and singing along right away; he seems likely to be our most devout family member, should we find a spiritual home. The Shofar blowing.

Making sand sculptures soon devolved into a free-for-all in the shallows. Jaden jumped in. His best friend from preschool was there, and they delighted in splashing and playing. He shucked his pants and dove in. Shayla resisted but plunged in in, fully dressed.

“We always have bathing suits in the trunk,” a dad told me.

That’s the kind of life I want to live. These are the waters I want to swim in.