This year, I could not wait to get to Bjorklunden. We didn’t go last year, because my sister had an art show the same weekend. It was disappointing but not earth shattering. However, my job has become increasingly stressful, and I now had two years building of no spiritual R&R. Although Dave and I took vacations and I have had some time off, these times were more for reconnecting in our marriage or for getting stuff done around the house.
I was a little nervous, that I was pinning too many expectations on this trip. That I may remain closed off and in a spiritual hot mess, unable to or unwilling to let my guard down. And to be honest, I didn’t end up having any extravagant spiritual awakening or aha moment or anything like that. It was more as if all the stress and questions and craziness of life drained right out of me.
An excerpt from my journal:
“I’m sitting on the beach of Lake Michigan in March. Yes, you heard me. March. It’s about 50 degrees and windy but that’s because we are on the lake. It’s about 65 in Green Bay. I’m at Bjorklunden in Door County-been waiting what seems like forever to be here. I can feel the cool wind in my face, ruffling thru my hair, sounding in my ears like blowing air over a pop bottle. The waves are in a constant rush to the shore – no intermittent pounding but rather a hurried rolling. One right after the other, the sounds of each individual wave running into the sounds of the one coming behind it, next to it, five feet down from it until it sounds like one constant roar. Like being in a crowded bar where all the voices meld together with only an occasional laugh rising like a popping balloon over the others. One single sea gull.
No bugs yet, it being March, but some green starting along the beach grass from an unusually mild Wisconsin winter. I should not be able to sit in the sand on this beach in March. It should be wet, at the very least, if not still covered in snow and ice, with the ice flow from the lake pushing up against the shore like white stacked shale, similar to the rock formations behind me. I do wish I had a cup of coffee. But other than that, my portion of existence in this moment is complete.”
The rest of the day was spent hanging with the other women, doing Celeste’s bead class (we made some very cool knotted bracelets using colors from Winifred Boynton’s many murals) and eating (we ate a LOT – the food there is excellent) and checking out the basket and wool felting class.
Somewhere around 4pm, I excused myself and went on a purposeful walk to go find God. I know that sounds funny – how do you do that? It’s not like going to the house next door and knocking. But I was determined to have a talk with Him, even if it was one sided. Lately, I was questioning Him on everything. I had been reading the Old Testament, which brought about many ambivalent feelings about God and what He was trying to accomplish not only while He led the Israelites thru the wilderness, but in the here and now. I felt like a whiney, tired four year old, with every sentence beginning with the word “Why…”
I walked along the beach, which was harder than it sounds, as a lot of the beach is actually rock. Loose rock, large slabs of rock and random large boulders, interspersed with sand, old seaweed and beach grass. The old seaweed led to a discussion later with my sister about why we can’t eat sushi with the seaweed wrap but that’s a story for a different blog.
As I walked, I came upon a coffee table sized rock of black granite, rubbed smooth by years of erosion. It was beautiful. I squatted down beside it, and rubbed my hand along it’s surface. Smooth like buttah. I rubbed the sand and dirt off of it, feeling the warmth of the afternoon sun come off in my hand. Smiling, I sat down on it and let my mind wander. I apologized to God for being such a bag lately. An unbelieving, ornery, questioning old bag. He responded with a small smile, and came and sat beside me.
I leaned over, and purposefully bumped him, shoulder to shoulder. He bumped me back. I smiled. He smiled. I leaned in again, but this time, didn’t bump. Just stayed there. He let me lean on him, and looked down at me and smiled again. And then, I started to kind of freak out. I mean, who does this? Imagines they are sitting next to God and shoulder bumping with Him? Except if anyone would ask me, I would say if I was to have a personal, intimate relationship with God, this is what I would imagine it to be.
I had a dream once that Jesus and I were sitting next to each other in lawn chairs. We were talking and interacting together, much like my imagined scenario on the rock. I remember feeling accepted and loved and like I was worth something, and kind of in awe that Jesus was even there. I kept expecting him to jump up to move on to another appointment or go talk to someone more important but he didn’t. He was speaking with me like I was the only one that mattered even though I knew I wasn’t.
Which brings me to the parable about the man who found a treasure of unmeasurable wealth. He buried the treasure where he found it, and then went and sold all he had and purchased that land. When I first read this parable in Matthew, I thought it was about us as humans- that God is the treasure and we should give up all we have just to be with Him. I believe this although it’s hard to even imagine giving up my ‘stuff’ for God much less have the courage to do it. But I also believe this: That WE are the treasure, and God is the man who gave up all he had, just to have us. He paid for us with the life of his son.
I got up from my rock, pretty sure I was a little crazy but not really caring either. I walked up the rest of the beach, saw two large long necked white birds (swans? albino geese? angels?) flying along the shoreline, too far away for me to tell exactly what they were, but close enough to see they were not your garden variety seagull.
I climbed up into the woods, and began walking back to Bjorklunden on the North Trail, stopping occasionally to place my hands on one of the large evergreens and then shut my eyes, feeling them swaying under the wind. Then, I would open my eyes, and crane my neck up to watch their tops bend and dance, enjoying the thrill of trying to keep my balance.
And then it dawned on me. God’s gift to me this weekend was time. Time to enjoy the smell of the earth. Time to feel the wind on my face and listen to the waves talk nonstop. Time to have bark under my hands and a smooth rock under my butt. Time to find Him again, and store up His treasure in my heart.
Until next time.