I prayed that God would show me a way to recognize signs and possible early warning signals to stress He was letting me deal with or else, if it got to the overload point, take away the stress. Wouldn't you know it, He does both. I received an opportunity to take scuba lessons.

I'm thinking, "Oh yeah, right, I'm supposed to do something I've always wanted to do and that's supposed to show me types of stress signals by trying to stress me out with pleasure. Like, I'm sure. I'm gonna get to do something relaxing and enjoyable. Just like the adventures on TV of Lloyd Bridges in Sea Hunt. " I hadn't heard of Jacques Cousteau in the isolated flatlands of Kansas during that early pre-cable era.

So I buy the book for the course and give it my cursory glance through. First thing I do, when I buy a new book, is look at the pictures. " If the pictures ain't no good, than the book probably ain't no good neither. " I flip the pages ( not too quickly, I'm no speed reader ) and I read the bold print in the index and the preface. The most repeated words were ENJOYMENT, RELAXATION, FUN, COLORFUL AQUATIC LIFE, and SAFE. Well, okay, that's what I figured it was.

So, when is the first dive? Today? I'll be there. I went. I passed an intermediate swimming test without any problem. I figured out how to don my wetsuit thanks to my vast remembrance of my ole' buddy Lloyd donning his suit at least five or six times per episode. I did enjoy my relaxing fun and safe initial dive. There wasn't much colorful aquatic life to be found in the pool environment, so I decided to read some more in the book.

The first three chapters were talking entirely about what was to be expected of you during the first pool session. "Oh, wow, if I had read this first before I went to class, I would have known what to expect." First Clue - Wake up Bill. No, not yet, I survived my first dive. I could hardly wait to go to the ocean so I could see what shells look like in their natural environment.

I went for my second pool dive. I didn't drown, but not because I didn't know how to. We did a lot of strenuous tasks on the second pool. One real toughie was attempting to retrieve your mask & snorkel and come up with them both cleared while clad only in the very buoyant wet suit. I discovered that I needed a lot of weight in order to offset my mass and effectively achieve merely a neutral buoyancy. I don't sink easily. Second Clue.

"Bill," I ask myself, "if you do succeed in sinking, there's no air down there. How you gonna clear that mask & snorkel when you have to blow out most your air from your lungs in order to get down there? Come to think of it, who was the dummy that dropped them down there anyway? I didn't do that. The instructor, what's - his - name, did it. Why don't he go down and get them since he dropped them?"



The only dumb question is the question not asked. I don't think so. Have you ever heard a really ignorant question asked by a student? Of course not, a student is usually wise enough to know not to ask the dumb question he's thinking. Not me. I ask all the dumbest questions I can think of. So, after the Instructor, whose name I know is Bob because I asked him, dives in and hands me my mask, I don my BCD and my tank of air, say a prayer ( the most important skill needed for any dive ), and I prepare to sink beneath the water carrying with me the only air I'll have to breathe for the next however many minutes it might be.

"Hold on, Bob's giving me the signal to buddy breathe. Now how did my old buddy Lloyd do it? Oh, yeah, he'd take a nice calm breath and pass his mouthpiece over to the other calm, rational, sane person unable to fill his lungs with air down here under the water."

I take my calm breath and, as I'm slowly exhaling my calm breath, I pass my mouthpiece to Bob, he only looks a little blue because the lighting underwater casts a bluish pallor on everything. Bob is calmly breathing the air now and I'm ready to breathe now, too, because I just blew out the last of the air in my lungs. Third and Final Clue.

"What is wrong with this picture? I'm a sure prayin' that Bob saw Sea Hunt also and that he knows that he is to calmly return my mouthpiece so I can stay calm and breathe also."

"Aha, he did. I am now calmly buddy breathing with Bob. What? He wants it again? What is wrong with him? He's crazy if he thinks I'm taking this air hose out of my mouth again."

Well, I did. We both survived and I had passed yet another vital skill to achieve certification and receive the right to buy air so I can go underwater where the air you bring with you is your salvation and sustenance.

I read more in my book and I make an amazing discovery. It describes in great detail all the skills you are expected to display during your second pool dive, including controlled breathing and warning signs of overexertion. In bold print, "Know Your Limits." BINGO.

"I think it would be okay to read ahead and see what else might be expected of me to do ( just in case my ole' bud Lloyd didn't cover something )."

The Bible is a good book to read to see what else is expected of us also. After all, we do all need certification to enter into His Holy domain. And if you ain't got ole' buddy Jesus by your side helping you to buddy - breathe on the way up, you might not make it.

By the way, I did complete the scuba course. I survived my four ocean dives where I enjoyed colorful aquatic life. I learned to recognize my limitations and abide within their parameters calmly. And I discovered that I do not like removing my mouthpiece while underwater. Nor do I like having obstructed my airway to Jesus, our salvation and sustenance, above water. But it is okay to buddy breathe, so I think the grace God gives us should be shared with those whose tank might below.