Sabbatical, Day Seventy-Three

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Lake Superior

To be clear I love all the Great Lakes.  Lake Michigan has claimed the most of my time; Lake Huron never seems that far away while I am in Michigan; glimpsing Lake Erie always brightens my day; and Lake Ontario welcomed me like a long lost friend when I finally stepped into it a couple of years ago.

However, Lake Superior is my favorite.  Since I was a child this lake has captivated me with its wildness and power.  Time spent at Lake Superior always leaves me humbled, in awe, and longing to live on its shores.  As a child I was certain I would one day move north to the sandy land of Lake Superior, never dreaming I would be planted firmly in the life-giving soil of farmland.

It had been years since I had stood on the shore of Lake Superior when I returned this summer.  I returned like an old friend, with memories of other visits playing in my head, excitement for new memories to be made, and comfort in knowing where I stood.  I am certain all of us have places like this, touchstones to ground us in our lives.  Fields of crops, mountains, homes, or towns are a few of the places others have told me ground them.

The purpose of this grounding is not to weigh you down so you cannot go exploring, rather to be a place you touch down on to remind you of where you have been as you find a new place to be.  I wonder if part of the reason the world seems so hate-filled lately is because we have forgotten to return to the places that ground us. . .

I am not talking about just the horrific acts of violence that seem to come regularly around the world, or the hate-filled racism and sexism that is allowed to be spewed at anyone the speaker chooses.  I am also talking about how impatient everyone seems to be, or how easy it seems to be to justify our rudeness, or how people can justify standing in a crowd of people shouting for harm to come to another person.  I cannot understand how we as a people have forgotten who we are, unless we are purposely choosing not to remember, unless we are purposely choosing to live selfishly and hatefully.

Maybe if we remembered the places that have shaped us and we returned to them we would find echoes of our old selves, so we could see if we have lived into the person we dreamed we would become.  And if we found ourselves lacking the grace and kindness we once had, hopefully the power of that place would inspire us to try again.

I stood on the shore of Lake Superior this summer and remembered the tiny, pony-tailed, knobby-kneed dreamer who believed if everyone was kind to each other no child would ever have bruises from angry hands, or have empty bellies, or hear racial or sexist slurs used to describe them.  That child had faith people would always choose the greater good over themselves.  That child believed if adults only knew she was suffering they would step in and make life different for her and all the kids she knew.

I stood on the shore of Lake Superior this summer lamenting the loss of that innocence and trust, while recommitting myself to being the type of adult that hopeful child needed.  I trust you will do the same because the kids of this world need us to be adults who always choose the greater good.  Always.