I read Belinda's post of yesterday as the daylight dwindled in a campground somewhere between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie and if you read the comment I left yesterday in response, you will know that it struck a deep chord. It was the last night of nearly a week's much anticipated and desperately needed vacation.
We left home a week ago today and then Canada the next morning, crossing over into Michigan on the Bluewater Bridge which spans the St. Clair River and connects Sarnia, Ontario with Port Huron, Michigan. Later that day we attended a wedding in Indiana which was a gift, pure and simple. We witnessed the joining of two hearts and the blending of two families in a celebration which was refreshing in its simplicity and joyously rich in its celebratory abandon. I felt the reservoirs, long since dried and cracking begin to fill even then. We left the reception between dinner and the dancing to go back to the hotel and exchange our wedding finery for much more casual and comfortable outfits including the exchange of unforgiving leather shoes for my comfortable old sandals which I should have probably replaced two years ago. I wore them over my socks. No-one batted an eye. It was one of those rare places where you know you won't be judged or misunderstood for simply being yourself.
The next day we headed up the east side of Lake Michigan, our pop-up tent trailer following obediently behind us. It was a week of "disengaging" all right. Because of exhorbitant roaming fees, our cell phones were turned off. There was no internet access in the state parks where we parked our camper each night, and no television to distract us. We didn't even listen to the radio or play music, now that I think about it. We didn't discuss it, we just didn't do it... As we drove along each day I read almost an entire book out loud to Ron. We got through all but the last ten of 57 chapters. And we talked - a lot.
It was one of the most relaxing vacations I can remember, even though we worked hard to set up each evening and then again each morning as we packed up and broke camp. Our food each day consisted of one modest meal out along with a quick trip to the grocery store for bread or buns, a bit of meat or cheese, sometimes a tin of baked beans to eat right out of the can, fruit for dessert, and milk for our morning coffee/ cereal. We stopped at a roadside farm near Traverse City for fresh picked apples, sweet and crisp, for between meal snacks.
It had been our intention to circumvent Lake Superior, but we didn't get nearly that far, and with no regrets. We arrived home late this afternoon with a store of memories and a deep sense of restoration in our souls. There was one night in particular from this vacation that I will always remember...
It was about two-thirty when I awakened and began to feel that old familiar knot of anxiety forming in my gut as "the tapes" began to play in my head once again. I knew it would be a long night and that I wouldn't be going back to sleep again for a very long time if at all. By way of acknowledging defeat, and desperate to look up into the sky, perchance to catch a glimpse of God up there, I slipped out of the camper and stepped into the brisk breeze blowing off the north shore of Lake Michigan. We were camped right on the beach at Wilderness State Park, less than an hour's drive from the Straits of Mackinaw dividing the southern part of Michigan from its upper peninsula. It was just chilly enough that I was very thankful for the warm sweatshirt I had pulled on while sitting at the campfire earlier that night, and had forgotten to take off before pulling my sleeping bag over me and going to sleep. Except for the whooshing of the wind, the waving and rustling of the grasses along the beach's high water mark, and the steady beat of waves reaching the shore one after another after another, the campground was as still as it could be. There were a half dozen other hardy post-season campers but everything on their campsites had been battened down hours earlier. Everyone else in the world, my world anyway, was clearly asleep.
I made my way gingerly down the pathway to the water's edge only thirty or forty feet from where I'd stepped out of the camper and felt perfectly safe doing so. We had chosen this spot on the beach, exposed to the wind after being driven out of the shelter of woods by hordes of mosquitoes which hadn't heard yet it was way past time for them to quit sucking the blood of poor unsuspecting campers for this year. It was the wind that kept them away from the beach and for that I was grateful. Cloudcover stretched from horizon to horizon, but it wasn't thick enough to thwart the stubborn refulgence of a nearly full moon. Even without a flashlight I could see well enough by the softly glowing clouds not to trip over anything and to be able to pick my way through the tall grasses, keeping to the path.
I squatted on the edge of that massive lake, the wind tousling my hair, and the waves keeping the rhythm of the ages and I poured my heart right out. I told God my Father everything I was afraid of just then and how uncertain of the future and there I wrestled with Him over what I should do. I told him how confused I felt and how tired body, soul, and spirit. And yes, how ashamed - and how all of that seemed so incongruent with the promises in his Word. I listened for his response in the wind. I listened for a long time.
I didn't see him come walking across those waves of Lake Michigan. I didn't see the waters part and a way open before me. I didn't hear any answers carried to me by the wind, or etched miraculously in the hard packed sand at my feet. I don't think I've ever opened up my heart so fully nor felt so utterly vulnerable and exposed. Nor have I ever felt so utterly safe in falling completely apart.
After listening for a while, I heard nothing and turned back up the sandy path to the haven of the camper and back out of the wind. I settled under my sleeping bag and poked Ron to get his soft snores to stop altogether and turn back into rhythmic and regular draughts of air instead. Silent tears escaped my eyes, and I smeared them across my cheeks with my hands in an effort to dry them before they dampened the pillow.
"Melting icebergs," I thought.
A deep and inexplicable peace began supercede and replace my deepest feelings. I had no answers. Nothing had changed. But I knew into whose hands I had just once again cast my lot and my life along with all my questions and confusions, and wretched angst. My heart was emptied out on that shore, in that place of solitude. It was enough.
I slept. I don't know what it means just yet, or how it will all play out, but I know that under that cloudy sky on that windswept beach in the middle of that night I crossed a great divide...