July green on the lake

2014-07-24 19.26.41


I’ve watched it catch the blue of a brilliant October sky.  Or mimic a monotonous mass of gray cloud too listless to move on.  But today Fuller Lake, a refuge that many miss in central Pennsylvania, is a green gem that mirrors the pines ( and others trees I can’t name) that have descended from the mountains and  gathered along its edges.

It hosts an afternoon gathering.  Babies are dipped into it by mothers.  Children splash grandpas with it.  A lifeguard in a high seat scans people in it.  Lovers on a blanket ignore it.   It features sand and tattoos and fish swimming around immersed toes.  Its surface bounces their squeals, laughter and calls, some even in a smattering of German and Spanish.  This small rural lake, like everything else, is growing global.

The afternoon grows too.   Hunger grows in the bathers and some leave in search of supper food.  The gathered trees grow taller and begin hiding the sun.  Without solar rays to heat bodies, few waders remain to endure the chilling splashes that prickle the skin.  For they say this lake was once a quarry, that it falls into a deep cold beyond the swimming ropes.  One by one the lake’s guests pick up towels and totes and drift out of sight.

The lake falls into a a larger quiet.   That’s why I am here.

Only two piles of towels remain, while Carlos (I have learned names by listening) tosses a late football in the water with his daughter and his girlfriend’s children.  The little sister shivers.  Further away two women huddle and sink their bodies into the warmer shallows, softly discussing their lives over the lake’s surface.  Swallows swoop and skim for insects.  A neighbor I know wanders near, waves a greeting and settles alone on a bench.  He comes to the lake late when it is “peaceful.”

My neighbor is right.  The lake has changed in the two hours I have been sitting, watching, listening.  The air is peacefully different now.  I stand to pick up my chair.  I am different too, I realize.  Something happened while the lake and its green life absorbed me.  What?

I haven’t once thought about God—the latter being a professional hazard for a sermon writer.  All this while I have  been settling into the greenness (that is, the green gift and creation of the God I haven’t been thinking about).    Just as thinking about love is not the same as settling into love, so thinking about God is not the same as settling into God.  The green lake pulled me from thinking “about” to a deeper place of living into Something beyond me.

Some would say I fell off the deep end into a waste of time.  (The sermon is not written.)   But I pick up my towel  and notice that in doing so my body feels softer.  The quiet of which I am now aware is not from the lake without, but radiates from within.  I realize that by grace I fell off into a place of prayer and peace without knowing it.

Now I am ready to go back.