When I was little, I used to hide under the water. When my mom wanted us to leave the pool and go home, I would hide under the water and hold my breath and pretend I couldn’t hear her. She couldn’t reach me there. Under the water, I was free. Under the water, I could swim and flip and play. Under the water I could giggle and goof.

Now, all these years later, I still love to swim, and each time I arrive at the pool, even in very early morning grown-up-needing-to-exercise-before-going-to-work kind of hours, I still get a little wild joy in that first dip of my head under the water. Freedom and weightlessness, quiet and embraced, safe and also open, under the water, I feel the most me.

And I sometimes wonder- what did Jesus feel under the water? When he was dipped, before he emerged and the flaming dove came at him, before the heavens opened and words of belovedness and identity (and all the responsibility they carry) were spoken, before that, in that moment under the water, how free and giggly could he be? How safe and quiet could it have been? Did he want to hid and stay a little while down there?

O God, for those moments, especially in this terribly scary, loud, violent, messy, on-fire world, for the moments where we can find you, or hide from you, for moments when we can find quiet or joy or free, for the precious places where you offer us safety and giggles, escape and peace, where you offer us under-the-water hidden joy and beloved freedom…. thank you.


Prayer written by Rev. Erin Counihan, who serves as pastor at Oak Hill Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO.

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