Ever since I was a tiny thing I was afraid of the water. At the age of eight, my family took us up on a rafting ride in the Salmon Idaho River. It was going to be fun, they said, but I was so scared I could barely move my muscles to get into the little raft that my dad held for my sister and I to board. The others road black rubber tubes and stuff.
My dad told me to hold on to the handles and everything would be ok. This echoed in my mind more than anything and so I just held on as tight as I could and there was nothing that would make me let go. I was scared stiff and holding on for dear life, as my dad kicked off and held to the side of the raft so it wouldn't get away. This was his way to keep us safe. But the water was deeper than he'd thought it would be and he was just kicking along on the side and I remember how much his added weight to the side of the raft frightened me when he pulled down on it a little. I was so scared I was frozen in place, staring at my sister who tried to smile encouragingly.
The others were swept of in front of us and around the corner of the river by the powerful water. But our weight was too much and we slammed into the side of the river corner and the raft flipped over. I was underneath the raft then and all I could think about was my dad's words. "Hold on and everything will be ok." so I did.
wouldn't let go of the handles on that raft for anything. But I was underwater and holding my breath. I knew I couldn't just stay there forever. My life jacket held me under the raft pretty well too. I kicked my feet unsure of what to do but hold my breath.
Until finally I felt a calming sensation spread through me that soothed me and relaxed all my muscles. I remember it so clearly. The voice told me to let go. I relaxed and let go then, imagining myself being swept down the river and found on the side somewhere someday. But it wasn't a frightening thought anymore, because I was completely calm. However, moments after I let go and let the water sweep me away, I felt hands grab me and I was up out of the water.
As soon as I came up out of the water, the panic came back again and I was so scared, my sister who held me told me later that even if the tips of my hair touched the water I was gripping her, screaming that she was going to drop me. I was paralyzed with fear as the handed me across the river to each other, and out. I then remember sitting in the car, wrapped in a towel, and shivering with my other young sister.
Later that day we sat drinking hot chocolate and discussing everyone's versions of the story, but I was too young to really listen to everyone else talk about what had happened.
Now that I am older, I've talked about it many times with my older siblings and they told me how they could see my pink swimming shoes flopping in and out of the water from beneath the boat and they knew I was trapped. One of my sisters was clinging to the tree which wedged the boat into the water but she couldn't get to me. No one could. All of my siblings were down stream and the water was too strong. Each time anyone tried to swim to me, they were swept downstream again.
My dad would get out of the water, run upstream, and then dive in again, only to be swept down the river again. It felt like I was under the water for an eternity to them.
Until my brother, who was downstream from me too and not the most muscular person present, said to himself "this is enough!" and he stood and miraculously walked upstream as if he had super powers. Then, even more miraculously, he lifted the raft up out of the water and I was free.
This experience has been a strengthened my faith all my life. The calming sensation I had, to the power and strength my brother was given, testify to me that I have a grand purpose to be living and that God protected all of us that day.
View more inspiring photos from Dan Felstead at Wood and Pixels Narratives.