In Reverence of Lake Michigan
"Gratitude bestows reverence . . . changing forever how we experience life and the world." ~ John Milton ~
If you’ve spent any amount of time around Lake Michigan, you know the lake’s magic can carve out a special place in your heart and calls you back again and again. I grew up in the beachside town of Michigan City, IN. After college I moved away but many years later moved to Chicago. One summer evening I was on a crowded CTA bus heading northbound on Lake Shore Drive looking out at the lake. The setting sun turned the color of the water to a shade of blue that spurred a deep sense memory for me. That shade of blue was unique to Lake Michigan, at least in my brain’s catalogue of colors. And it brought back a rush of wonderful memories.
Last summer I spent time at Beachwalk, a lively beachside vacation community in Michigan City. The lake called to me again and asked,
How about a yoga retreat here? I answered, yes.
In partnership with Bloom Yoga Studio*, we began planning for an August Beachwalk Retreat and an idea came to me to offer a nighttime restorative yoga practice on the beach under the stars. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to offer a guided meditation incorporating some of the geological story of the lake. It could be an offering of reverence to Lake Michigan – a kind of prayer of gratitude. So, I started doing some research and began writing.
We all learn in grammar school that the Great Lakes were formed by glaciers that gouged out deep basins that filled with water and became what we now know as the Great Lakes. I think most of us appreciate that the lakes are very young geologically, only about 10,000 years old. But I didn’t realize the stones and sand that form the lake’s foundation are 300-400 million years old. They were originally formed in northern North America and carried down and deposited during multiple ice ages. Now every time I hold a lake stone in my hand, I marvel at its age and wonder how it survived for hundreds of millions of years compared to my short time on earth. It brings special meaning to the Mary Oliver quote, “Each stone is a tiny church locked up tight.”
While humans have sadly and dramatically damaged the lake’s ecosystem, there is still such beauty there. I’m hopeful that with awareness and the right actions we can revive the Great Lakes. I’m grateful this retreat will generate only a minimal carbon footprint. No jet fuel is needed to get us there, it’s just a short drive from Chicago to Michigan City. We’ll enjoy locally grown food, and we’ll keep it simple.
If you are interested in joining the retreat, a few spots are still open. It will be a small, intimate group. I hope you’ll join me under the stars for a guided meditation in reverence of Lake Michigan, morning yoga on the beach, long walks along miles of unobstructed shoreline, and the company of a wonderful group of individuals. How blessed we are to have this magical piece of nature right in our backyard.
Recommended reading about the Great Lakes:
The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas, Jerry Dennis
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, Dan Egan
A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach: One Woman’s Trek of the Perimeter of Lake Michigan, Loreen Niewenhuis
* Special thanks to Julia Means, Studio Manager at Bloom, who has worked so hard organizing this retreat.