Lakeside Ruminations

Since high school days I have been coming to Lake Michigan at my wife’s parents’ home (where I am now writing this) for vacations and getaways.  As they are now in the process of trying to sell their home, our family is realizing these times could be our last here.  How thankful we are that we have had this place to slow down, to listen to grandparent’s stories, to laugh together, to read for enjoyment, to wonder at God’s creation of woods, water, and sands, and to think of His goodness.

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Just finished devouring, along with my college-bound daughter, the book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.  It tells the incredible story of a poor village boy in Malawi named William Kamkwanda.  Having narrowly survived a famine where his family was reduced to just a few mouthfuls of nsima a day (a corn-based porridge), William studied on his own and made his own windmill from junked machinery as a teenager to generate electricity for his family.  His hope among other things was to be able to give his family and fellow villagers wind-powered water pumps that would allow them to irrigate their fields to keep famine conditions from reoccurring.  Discovered by others, he is now studying in the USA and has hopes to return to Malawi to accomplish this.  With friends he started a project called Moving Windmills.  You can see him tell his own story here.

Despite the book’s serious nature, it had pleasant humor in it as well.  I could not help but notice in the book a Malawian proverb used on those occasions when you get more than you bargained for.  It was stated this way: “If you go to see the lake, you will also see the hippos.”  I could see this proverb, ahem, catching on in America as well.

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Just had my second child in a period of about three weeks become engaged, this one on the shore of the lake here.  The picture above is of the ring.  We could not be happier for our children nor with our prospective children-in-law.  Yet it is still hard to believe that those fuzzy-headed kids I used to carry down the steps to the beach are getting married.

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Several years ago we started noticing on the beach that at the same time each afternoon some bigger than normal waves, about five to ten in number, would roll in.  They would pass the normal wave lines left on the beach and wet previously dry sand.  As you could nearly set your watch by it, we would begin to wait each day for what we jokingly called “the tsunami.”  Wanting to know more, a little research revealed that what we were experiencing was a natural phenomenon called a seiche (pronounced saysh).

A seiche is an oscillating series of waves in an enclosed body of water.  Though they can be created by winds from storms or earthquakes, the regular ones we were experiencing were caused by more regular events such as the earth’s rotation and gravitational pull from the moon.  They even have a mathematics seiche formula!  The best way to understand them is to think of sloshing a bowl of water in your hand, then watching the waves travel around the exterior.   In like manner, every day seiches are traveling around the 1600 miles plus of the Lake Michigan shoreline.  He who has the waters in the hollow of His hand sloshes them around each day to remind us of this truth.

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Not only are the seiches regular, but so is the seagull we call Charlie.  Every afternoon at the same time he shows up at the edge of the beach and inches closer to us.  When we go out into the water, Charlie nervously runs away then circles back around us, making straight for our towels and umbrella.  Elijah’s ravens he is not.  He knows there may be crumbs and fallen pieces from our afternoon snack, so he helps keep our beach clean.  Yesterday Charlie went beyond the call of duty as far as we are concerned.  He  gobbled up the dead sand spider one of the kids had squashed with a Frisbee.

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In a boat on the shallows of a lake Jesus preached, and they listened to Him as Lord.   On the depths of a lake Jesus stilled the winds and waves, and they worshiped Him as Lord.    On the shore of a lake He told His disillusioned disciples where to fish, and the overwhelming catch caused them to recognize Him as the resurrected Lord.   Lakes singularly remind us of our human weakness while at the same time testifying to His glory and sovereignty.  Lakes are great places for disciples to learn.

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The footprints we leave on the sandy beach each day are gone the next, gently erased by wind and water.  So it seems much of my family’s life as we have known it is changing.  Miriam’s parents will be moving away from the lake.  Children now adults are getting married.  Another child is going off to college.  My work assignment is changing next year.  Our family will be moving to another state as a result.    Like waves, these things keep rolling over us each day.  How good it is to know the Lord who never changes and who walked on the waves to be with His disciples.

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