The lake is glorious. Restful, peaceful, serene. It doesn’t shout, “Come, play with me!” It doesn’t tease, “Lookie what I’m doing.” It doesn’t tempt with rowdy revelers splashing and sailing and fishing. Well, there are quite a few fishing.
No, the Lake at Junaluska just is. It is rest. It is peace. It is serene. It is not a place to get things done. I realized this as I set up my computer facing a window overlooking the lake, and sighed. Ah, now THAT is a view.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It didn’t distract me. More, it called to me. “You are here. Come be with me.”
I had come to spend the week at the lake, catching up on all the things I hadn’t gotten done in the middle of my busy life. The things that needed reading, needed writing, needed sorting, needed attending to, things that I just hadn’t found time for. Now, I had all week for them, but the the Lake said, “Come be with me.” And that invitation is strong.
I had come to be alone, and found solitude.
I had come for quiet, and found silence.
I had come for refuge, and found welcome.
What I didn’t find was space to organize my disheveled self. Rather, there were sights and sounds to be shared. Things to be remembered and recorded. There was activity to be investigated and experienced. There were people to visit with, dogs to pat, birds to listen to, storms to respect and, of course, the Golden Hour to photograph.
But what were any of these things without someone with whom to share?
We are communal beings. In spite of my ready angst about the person too loud at the next table, solo is not a natural state for me. “I just need to tell you, show you, share…” is the constant state of my being. Somehow, the solitary experience is incomplete for me. It vanishes with no one else to know it. Did I really see that? Hear that? Feel that? My testimony alone cannot confirm. I need companionship. Someone to listen, reflect, and appreciate with me the wonders of the world before me and their impact on the world within me.
I guess I’m just not cut from monastic cloth. After but a few hours, I am longing for someone, something, somewhere. My journals are but a meager substitute. It’s the Lake’s fault. It bids be come and walk and talk awhile. Perhaps I am the only one who hears, but I expect not, as the crowds on its pathways testify to its attraction for so many others. It is a wonderful conversational companion.
Sure, stop and rest a bit, the Lake says. But don’t bring what you haven’t gotten done here expecting me to help you do it. I am for reflection, you to yourself. Depart, knowing better what you came for and what you go with. The world needs you back. I send you.
I came to the Lake at its invitation of rest, but I brought work with me instead. On my last day to spend in its embrace, it speaks softly. What you need is who I am.
Go now, and I go with you.
You created and it was good. Very good. You said so yourself.
So how come right now it can feel bad? Very bad. You didn’t warn us about this. Have you changed your mind? Are you going back on your word? Were you just kidding?
I look of the hint of the sunrise, the glow of the clouds, overseeing two ducks urging themselves toward the shore and the cover of the steady reeds. The water is still, so still I can see the arrow of their wake. Good, so very good.
The darkened surface speaks to the heavens. See your clouds, your tints, and the proud shadows of overflying waterfowl? See your beauty in me? it seems to say. Even the jet trail of the early morning flight is reflected here.
I look up to see the straight white line of the jet trail dissecting the grey-blue of the sky, but where is it drawn on my pond palette? on my earthly representation of heavenly perfection?
Wait. I think I see it. It’s not a straight line at all, but an oscillating serpent in white, wiggling along the surface. I can see it clearly, reflected on the stilled water of the early morning, waiting patiently to come to life. The sheet of pond is not a perfect reflection after all. Unseen perturbations give themselves away.
How could I doubt your perfection? What you have created is good, very good.
Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. ~ 1 Cor 13:12
I’m walking to yoga class. It’s not far, maybe half a mile. I’ve left enough time. No rush.
Coming ’round the bend, a car slows and the driver peers out the window. I know her from yoga class. She’s offering me a ride, which I decline. She continues along her way and I along mine.
Ahead of me, I see another classmate exiting her house and striding along the sidewalk. See? Another walker, plenty of time… but she is quickly pulling away, must not have seen me, must be in a hurry, may be in a mood.
Oh but…Look up at the cotton white clouds that decorate Carolina blue skies. There, the egret stands in the tall shore grasses. Sweet lily pads wave at me as I cross the bridge, a ruddy duck floats among them. Is that a heron just flying overhead? Of course, there are those noisy black ravens, cawing, cawing and oh my, the squawk, the shudder, the screech of those hilarious Sandhill Cranes, always in two’s. Keep away from our nest!
I arrive at yoga, find a spot and settle in on my mat. After class I thank my neighbor who had offered the ride. “I like to walk,” I tell her, hoping she’s not offended.
“Oh, I like to walk, too,” she says. “Three times everyday. We do our 10,000 steps.”
Is this what walking is now? To be quantified, measured, and recorded? Have we squeezed out all the juice and found the pulp sour but good for us? Oh, if we could only see ourselves, see in ourselves, to see for ourselves all the signs and wonders and magnificent gifts at our very door step.
Oh, the places we’d go if we realized the places we are.