Story: Deep Dives

February 5, 2023

Isaiah 58:1-12
Matthew 5:13-20

I believe that I have mentioned schools before. A couple of my stories have visited nene school, and we’ve heard a little bit about ‘apapane learning to fly and ‘amakihi learning to sing. There are several species of fish, of course, that have made the ultimate commitment to lifelong learning, because…

They are always in schools.

This story is not about birds or fish, though it does take place in the water. This is about a honu school. Green turtles hatch on beaches, of course, and then the little turtles head down into the water. When they’re small they stay in shallow water, but as they grow they venture further out. That’s when it’s time to learn about deeper diving to graze on the seaweeds below or to hide from a hunting shark. That’s when I imagine a honu might go to school.

The teacher of this particular honu class was mostly feeling pretty satisfied. The students were cheerful and respectful. They were kind to one another and to her. They encouraged one another and they kept an eye out for one another. There hadn’t been a single episode where a student had got lost on the reef; someone always called before one wandered out of sight.

That’s a pretty good class.

There were two students, however, who were giving the honu teacher something of a headache, and for completely different reasons. One student insisted on trying things before he was ready for them. She’d set the class to dive to a particular depth, and he’d say, “I can dive deeper than that!” and promptly set out to do that. The problem was that sometimes he could dive deeper, and sometimes he couldn’t. He was still learning how much breath to take in; he was still learning how to feel the water movement in the deeper sections. He’d come back to the surface scared and panting, and ten minutes later he’d shout, “I can dive deeper than that!”

That was one headache.

The other student was entirely the opposite. “Let’s dive to this depth,” she’d say, and he’d shake his head. “I can’t do that,” he’d moan, even when he’d done that same dive the day before. “Let’s go just a little bit deeper,” she’d say, and he’d come right back to the surface.

That was two headaches.

Imagine now that she’s encouraging the one who’s not confident about his dives while the one who’s overconfident about his dives is diving and she had to go rescue him.

That’s three headaches.

When class was over one day she took them over to the beach for a rest and some one-on-two instruction. “I need for the two of you to work at a steady pace,” she said.

“But I know I can dive deeper!” said the first. “But I don’t think I can dive deeper!” said the second.

“Both of you can dive deeper,” she told them, “but this is something you learn to do by degrees. You make a little progress, and a little progress, and a little progress. If you don’t go a little farther, you don’t make progress. And if you go too far, you also don’t make progress. It’s like eating a big piece of seaweed. You take little bites until you’re not hungry any more.”

“You mean I really can dive deeper?” asked the second one. “Yes,” she said.

“You mean a little bit farther means I can dive farther tomorrow?” asked the first one. “Yes,” she said.

I wish I could say that both of them followed her advice in each class from then on. They didn’t. But they did better, and they did better with each passing day. Both of them learned to take those deep dives of the honu, and both of them were grateful they’d take it just a little bit at a time.

by Eric Anderson

Watch the Recorded Story

Photo of a honu (in shallow water) by Eric Anderson.

3 thoughts on “Story: Deep Dives

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