My photo of the Mackinac Bridge from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last summer.
My photo of the Mackinac Bridge from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last summer.

Remembering the cold, crystalline waves of Lake Superior. The lap of water against tile when I used to visit the ritual bath as an Orthodox wife. Oar into the depths, pull back, make progress, take the whole team a few feet deeper into the swift current of the Detroit River.

I have always felt calmed, at peace, inspired around water. On it, in it, beside it. The scent of the waves, the sound of the rhythmic flow that is a natural body of water.

My family Up North every summer, kids running on the grass and in the sand, throwing stones across the waves of the Bay until the sun sinks so far into the horizon that we can’t help but fall to sleep. The salt-scent of ocean every summer with family in Delaware, long days in hot sun as waves come in and go out, catching children in their foamy surf, parents standing watch on the strong shore.

I live in the Great Lake State, surrounded by water. When my husband and I want to celebrate … anything … we find a body of water to be near, to bike alongside, to picnic at. It’s always the beckoning fingers of the water.

The water of the Detroit River through a concrete crack on a pier at Belle Isle.
The water of the Detroit River through a concrete crack on a pier at Belle Isle.

An editor asked me to write about my religious experience with water and this is what came out.

From the depths of my soul, I understand why we seek cleansing by natural water. And I feel we truly are reborn when we step into the waters and step out a new person.

Tonight, we row. The long traffic-laden drive down wending streets to the island in the middle of the Detroit River and the century-old Detroit Boat Club, where the rowing machines and sleek glossy beautiful boats await. My husband and I, learning to row, learning to catch the rhythm of others so we can progress down the length of the big river.

We get one chance at this life, and I believe in making the most of it.

Pictured Rocks shoreline, U.P., 2014
Pictured Rocks shoreline, U.P., 2014

On Monday, I’ll rise at 5:30 to plunge into the pool by 6 for master swim. Tuesdays and Thursdays, we take to the river to learn the strokes and work the oars. We surround ourselves with people who aren’t ok with sitting inactive on a couch but rather want to live life fully.

A good life is filled with good people, fresh air, bright sun, absolute quiet except for the natural sounds of the natural world.

Making a difference by being present. Feeling the moment, confronting the confusion, helping to make life a little bit easier.

That’s the kind of purpose I seek in my days. And when I can bookend the meaningful work with absolute experience – on the river, by the lake, sailing across the glorious waves at the beckoning fingers of the ever-present wind – I know I’ve lived a good day.

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