Since Dad passed beyond this life in May, I have been introduced to family members I had never met before. This summer about sixty of them gathered together for a week of camping on family property on the very edge of Lake Erie for a family birthday and Canada Day.
My tent was pitched just a few feet from the last of the green turf, which was protected by massive rocks that shielded it from the continuous, pounding waves. While wind cannot be seen, it’s potency can be known when you stop and look, listen, and watch.
My cousin had been puttering around the house trailer when suddenly he stopped and stated what I’d heard him say a couple times already that week, “The lake takes everything.”
That statement stops me every time and triggers a reverence for the unstoppable strength of the lake. A respectful silence is all that follows–except for the unrelenting wind, which continues to blow with such force that the house shakes and sings.
“Whhhhhhuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!” Moving again, he said, “We have a whistling door.” Getting to know him and his humour was entertaining. Kneeling down, fidgeting with the new screen door, he then said words that I will never forget.
“If the lake doesn’t take it–the wind’s going to break it.”
At first I chuckled at my cousin’s both humorous and profound statement, and then I contemplated the depths of its truths. Nothing stays the same; everything arises, dwells, and decays. Everything constantly changes, well, a least everything of this world of experience. To the mind that wants to grasp, to the mind that wants things to stay the same, struggling against the truth of that reality hurts. Painfully, and with futility.
Yet change is required in order to experience any thing at all. If the scent of a rose lasted forever–if all you ever smelled was the scent of a rose, then there would BE no scent of a rose. Indeed, there would be no scent.
“Hey, let’s go!” A beckoning voice pulled me out of contemplation. My friend and I had not been there long when my cousin’s son invited us to swim out to the boat before they left for a ride. Slathering on the sunscreen everywhere as fast as I could, I jumped at the chance to take a different perspective and get another view the land from the lake.
Climbing out onto the nose of the boat, I leaned back against the window as the boat sped forward, slapping the waves and spraying water playfully upwards as the wind combed my hair. We toured along the northern edge of the great lake, close enough to see details like the vertical posts, now rotten trees that were once driven into the lake bed by the thousands with the intention of breaking the waves before they hit the shore. It was an effort to prevent erosion. Now there area few remnants of these posts here and there, the lake having had its way with them. There were larger versions of these erosion control measures build of heavy steel, many of them reduced to swiss-cheese look-alikes.
It echoed in my head “The lake takes everything.” There were remnants of what used to be houses, left in rubble. And boat docks twisted and turned and battered against the ground. Where there was no protective vegetation, the land, turned sand, was just falling away in chunks. Some locations were sheer vertical cliffs, where you could see the different layers in varying thicknesses and colour, bare and unprotected. The layer of soil that could sustain vegetation which would protect the land was so fragilely thin compared to the height and depth of other layers, that this seeing imprints how very important it is to take care of the soil that we do have, everywhere.
After a very long time my meditative contemplation was again broken as the boat began to turn back. And as I wondered what would become of the land left bare and unprotected in ten, 20, 30, 70, 150 years… and then my nose began to feel a burn, and I wondered if I had put sunblock on it. Turning to ask my friend, she confirmed: it was bright red. Good thing everything changes.
While the wind “damages” or, does what it does to things, it also brings benefits: there’s the cool breeze to offset the heat and humidity, the wind to wisp away bugs, the cleansing fresh air, the birds nesting in tiny holes in the cliffs, the movement of water that keeps it from stagnating, the food churned-up for fish and birds, the sensually soft and smooth, round rocks (perfect gratitude stones), the quick drying of clothes, the power from the wind turbines, and of course, there is playing in the waves.
Walking along the trail another evening, we were passed by a man and two boys in an obvious hurry. They disappeared into the bush and within moments we heard great laughter and giggling from beyond. We followed their trail and were delighted with the practically private beach and setting sun, and waves the biggest I had seen yet. Good thing everything changes.
The absolute best thing about knowing, seeing, recognizing, and accepting that everything changes, beyond the peace and joy that comes with it, is the recognition of the one thing that does not change. Because in order to know change, there must be something that knows it, something that is eternal, some thing which does not change. Are you aware that things change? You may wonder how that is possible.
More pictures of this trip can be seen on my facebook account: Facebook/CindyTeevens