Sink or Swim

Sep 23 2018

Januarius 15, 379

To my son Sevastyan:

With this letter, I am sending instructions to your guardian to see that you receive lessons in swimming while you are still young and buoyant. I myself never received such lessons, for swimming is not a beloved or practical exercise among our people, but I have long lived with the consequences of that oversight in my education. To this day, I still dislike to cross rivers, lakes, and oceans, and while I can reliably keep my head above water, I cannot do so efficiently or gracefully. It is a glaring and unfortunate weakness; one I hope my enemies never learn nor exploit.

Each Januarius, during the tradition of ice swimming, I must conquer my fears all over again. I stay close to shore, where my feet touch the bottom, and rarely enter water deep enough to rise above the waist. Fortunately, the ritual does not expect more than a momentary dip: just enough of a commitment to honor the Lord, rinse the skin, and return to warmth and safety. Even still, a grown man should not carry such childish fears. While you may dislike these lessons at first, I hope in time you will come to see the wisdom in them.

Lord bless and guide you,

Your Loving Father

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