Amid the great quiet, there is a soft, rhythmic sound here. Always there, off in the distance, not too far away.
It’s the gentle lapping of waves on the beach of Georgian Bay, just a bit north of Penetanguishene. Sound travels forever over these waters, and you can hear a conversation of two folks over the water 100 yards away. Off in the distance, you can hear the ski-doos and pleasure boats humming along. The sound of wind off the bay filling the countless trees. Everyone here seems focused on doing pretty much nothing. This is a very good thing.
The smells are of fresh breezes off the water, with an occasional whiff of varnish, from the neighbor who is applying a fresh coat to their dock, or the late afternoon smell of something hitting the barbeque next door. At the end of the day, the smell turns to that of a campfire on the beach, built by the kids for toasting marsh mellows. Smoke in your nose never smelled so good.
The touch is of soft beach sand on your feet, even though you might have to hunt for the soft spots between the rocks. Or the cool chill you feel all over when you jump in the water off the dock. Once in the water, the sand beneath your feet combines with some kind of mysterious Canadian algae to make it feel like you are walking….on velvet. Really.
And the sights. Oh, the sights. Hundreds of small islands on the distant horizon; all stuffed to the brim with maples, pines, and every sort of green tree. Water everywhere, dark and blue and inviting. Come on, just jump in! Here, at our vacation cottage on the bay, the sky is so big it’s almost overwhelming. At twilight, the deep blue of day fades to the light orange of evening, time for conversation and laughter with family around the dinner table, something so ancient, and yet so needed even today; a chance to connect with those we love.
The evening brings the chance to work again on that 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that has been laid out on the table for three days. Perhaps a board game with the adults and kids together – the chance to laugh again and make fun of the odd uncle from Canada. Or America, take your pick.
Don't miss it. Outside in the dark, above this scene there are stars. Uncountable billions. This is a place where the Milky Way stretches from south to north, spanning the entire sky. The Artist of this night sky filled His brush with stardust paint, wound up, and let loose with a massive and limitless spray of dots across the Universe. Stunning.
Just to look up at this grandeur, almost uncontrollably causes your mouth to hang open. The ability to speak leaves you. Lying on the dock near midnight is a time for silence; any words tend to mess up the wonder of it all. In a cloudless summer sky, the cosmos hang above you like the ceiling of a limitless cathedral. This nighttime gazing at the heavens are sacred moments of the most profound kind.
Frederick Buechner once wrote:
“Jesus is apt to come…into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but….. at supper time, or walking along a road…. He never approached from on high, but always in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks….The sacred moments, the moments of miracle, are often the everyday moments.”
For this city guy, who is now wading deep in the waters of middle age, a week up here in the woods can be filled with sacred moments. There are more at home, in the business of everyday life. May I live a life that listens, touches, and senses these moments…..