When I was a wee thing, my mom took me to Green Acres pool in the summer. We could bike there pretty easily, and there were blackberries along the banks of the creek on our way. It was a path of wonders for my 6ish year old self. Green Acres had a regular outdoor pool with a shallow end and a deep end and lifeguards and a tall chain-link fence surrounding it, and a circular wading pool, perhaps above-the-knee deep on an adult leg at the deepest part, with a fountain in the center, but no lifeguard supervision.
One day when we were on the wading-pool side, waiting for my swim lesson to start in the Big Pool, a child went under the water. I didn’t notice (not that I would have known what to do). Many people didn’t notice. But one woman did. She ran into the water, fully clothed, and pulled the child up. She did CPR and the kid spit up a lung-full of water. Everyone in the area was stunned into silence, and erupted into applause at the first cough of life. I don’t remember anything else about Green Acres wading pool, but 40 years later, those few minutes on that one day stick like it was last summer.
What if she wasn’t there? What if she was distracted by a book or a conversation or the application of sunscreen? I would have a very different memory of that day. A few seconds of attention saved that child’s life. That woman was looking, so she saw what needed to be done. Of course, distraction isn’t always a matter of life and death, but I know that my vision is often impaired by distraction, busy-ness, annoyance. What do I miss because I’m not looking?
This Advent, may I continue to look, even when I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for.