Meeting God at Lake Michigan

The breeze was cool and the geese honked as they flew overhead. Right in front of the dock on which I am sitting, I listed to a rowboat quietly skimming across the surface of the water, the only sound to be heard is the oars dipping into the water to propel the small boat toward one of the sailboats anchored in the harbor.

The water lapped against the posts supporting the dock on which I sat.

I love water. I can’t swim and I don’t have a boat but I love the water. I grew up near Lake Michigan and now I live on the other side of Lake Michigan. It has been an important part of my life. I have never lived apart from Lake Michigan. I have a strange attraction to water.

A large body of water like Lake Michigan continually influences life in the areas surrounding it. In summer it moderates the temperature and keeps it slightly cooler than other areas. In winter the moderation keeps it slightly warmer than other areas. The Lake can greatly increase snowfall and can suddenly change the projection of storms.

One of my favorite things to do is just sit by the lake. I could do this for hours. Perhaps it is the rhythmic sound of the water, perhaps it is the ripple pattern that appears when a gentle breeze moves over the surface. Perhaps it is the fact that many cities, including the one I live in, owe their entire existence to water. Perhaps it is the paradoxical nature of water: it gives life and destroys life. Nothing can live without water, yet water also holds potential for great destruction.

Water also has great religious significance as well. It was with water that God purified the earth (Genesis 7-8), it was through water that God liberated God’s people from slavery (Exodus 14), it was with water that God sustained God’s people in the desert (Exodus 17:1-7), and it was with water that John the Baptizer prepared the way for Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 1:1-11).

“Water cleanses; purifies; refreshes; sustains…” as the baptismal liturgy reads. “…Jesus Christ is living water.”

* * *

When I look across Lake Michigan it seems as though I can see forever. Like it never ends.

For me, Lake Michigan is a thin place – a place where heaven and earth meet. Just like the sky and the water deeply embrace at the horizon.

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