a walk to lake michigan

As Michiganders seem to do, I went camping a few weekends back at a beautiful spot on Lake Michigan. The spot was between Ludington and Manistee. Kaile and I had decided to bring all three of our kids, so there we were, energetic and lively and ready to be outside. The future basketball team that is my offspring and life parter have a way of occupying a lot of .

It was my turn to care for Junia the first morning, so I went to sleep with a small amount of dread: when would she awake? She had been in the habit of waking up as early as 5:30am, so I was concerned.

Then morning came.

The time came even swifter than I had feared, and she was up and exceedingly ready to begin her our day by 4:50am. Nothing worked to get her back to sleep, so amidst my grogginess I made a snap decision: we would go the big lake.

I wasn’t, however, prepared in the least for what I experienced.

Carrying my delightful youngest child, we had the entire beach to ourselves for a couple hours, and it was an unexpected homecoming. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that lake has meant a lot to me over my lifetime. Years ago, it was Ludington I would always go with family and friends for beach time. Sometimes we’d go out by Muskegon where my grandparents lived. More recently we have done visits to Charlevoix, Petosky, Frankfort, wine tastings on the Leelenau Peninsula, spent long afternoons in conversation by the water. I have the geography of the lakeside cities nearly memorized.

But why were my eyes filled with tears, tears weighted with joy, renewal, hope?

Nothing new was happening per se; a reentrance into an old kind of familiar is what I experienced. That big lake, the one I first mistook three decades ago to be an ocean, greeted me once again: first with morning sun, next with a humid breeze off the water, and later with the majestic sight of a bald eagle surveying the landscape, wings spread wide on a warm swell of air.

But there was something new. This time, I was witness to Junia witnessing all the splendor of the created order.

Those molecules of water, a few of which once nourished Jesus himself, now swirled before us, pounding the sands of the lakeshore. Those grains of sand, which Abraham couldn’t count either here or in his ancient world, gave way slightly under our bare feet. That humid wind, felt especially on the day of Pentecost, cooled and refreshed us.

But may chief delight was Junia’s tiny eyes, her exquisite expressions as she took it all in, beaming with delight at each insect and plant before her. Like Mary and Joseph, I am in awe of not only the delicacy and power of creation, but even more so of the offspring I can hardly believe to be in my care for these fleeting years – and that I had some part in creating.

And so, my awe at all of this leads me to wonder. My wonder has led me to curiosity. My curiosity, as I observe so many signposts of divine presence, directs me toward faith. My faith points me to gratefulness.

And more often than in years past, my gratefulness has led me to a host of good things, awakening me to the large God-created world, alerting me to the endless opportunities to give to others, enlivening me to live as if the New Creation is already fully here, revealing to me how light is overcoming the darkness that persists.

So may your light come, Lord Jesus: even in me, even in my family, even in my church, even in my city, even in my country, even in my little planet in my little corner of the galaxy. May your light come.