Spirituality and Prayer

Soak in Water, Life

Soak in Water, Life

Molokai bath

“Today, take a bubble bath,” instructed Paula D’Arcy, the retreat facilitator. Seventeen of us sat circled in dynamic stillness. Morning light breezed through windows, dancing upon the hardwood floor. Vivid pink protea flowers and scattered plumeria blossoms brought elegant island artistry and focus. In a yurt, I gazed at my feet stretched before me, and became present to the present moment: Molokai, Hawaii, and my yes. Something within me was waking up, and emerging. It was more than good, it—whatever “it” was—would be great.

“Take a bubble bath” is wise guidance for every one of us who is immersed in a full and busy daily life. A soak is Molokai Protea Pegge Erkeneffparticularly valuable if we feel fragmentation, grief, or a desire to cultivate the unknown. A bath—the luxury of clean water, time, a tub—offers consolation, tenderness, an embrace. For thousands of years, wisdom offers: soak in water. Let go. Breathe. Reconnect. Be embraced. A bath offers us time to ponder, “What am I present to?”

With deliberation I made time for a bubble bath every day of my retreat at the Hui Ho’olana. One evening, soaking decadently in an outdoor claw-footed tub, high upon a hillside, palm trees rustling, a vast starry night extending around me and as far as I could vision into the ocean horizon, I felt myself untangling, as a seed of the unknown future began rooting and emerging within me.

In her book, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being, Ilia Delio writes, “Our challenge today is to trust the power of love at the heart of life, to let ourselves be seized by love, to create and invent ways for love to evolve into a global wholeness of unity, compassion, justice, and peacemaking. As a process of evolution, the universe is incomplete, and we humans are incomplete. We can change, grow, and become something new. We have the power to do so, but do we have the will?” (xxv).

My daily bubble bath, my yes and the yes from the others who gathered in the circle, bring forth an emerging wisdom, necessary for our time. Roshi Joan Halifax wrote, “We can discover ourselves to be everywhere and in everything, and we can know the activity of the world as not separate from who we are but rather of what we are.” After a week retreat, I departed from Molokai with renewed knowledge that my responsibility is to cultivate the seed of love in myself and in others. The will to love fiercely into the unknown, and engage in the activity of the world takes courage, companions, and bubble baths.


  • Pause and be still. Listen to your heart beat. What sensations, emotions, feelings or thoughts are you present to, within your own body and skin, now and here?
  • When, or where, will you make time to take a bath?

— Pegge Erkeneff

Beach photo

Reprinted from Listen: A Seeker’s Resource for Spiritual Direction, October 2013, Vol. 7, Issue 4, page 1 (Spiritual Directors International © 2013). Reprinted with permission of Spiritual Directors International. To order copies or a subscription of Listen, call 1-425-455-1565 or go to www.sdiworld.org.

October 2013, Listen 7.4


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