Face The Sun

Lake Michigan frozen

Lake Michigan frozen

Standing on the sea wall, the sun on our faces, the frozen Lake Michigan looked like a vast field of broken glass, shards akimbo, glistening in the morning light. The shards popped and crackled, moaned and snapped; it was the first warm day in months. The birds frolicked. It was a small taste of spring, a gift before winter’s return tomorrow. I closed my eyes, faced the sun, and drank it in.

Kerri and I had just walked across the harbor. We watched the ice fishermen drill holes in the ice. The bit dropped more than two feet before breaking through. The fishermen assured us that the ice was very thick. “I’ve lived my whole life here and never seen the ice this deep,” the man said, sipping his coffee and looking at the lines he’d dropped in the water. We stepped out onto the ice, making a pact to rescue the other – and walked across the harbor.

The sea wall is on the far side of the harbor and usually requires a boat to reach. It is constructed of enormous boulders, some still encased in ice and looking like something the artist Christo might have created. On our water walk to the sea wall we snapped photographs, splashed in newly formed puddles, and left footprints in the snowy spots.  We laughed. We waltzed around an old fishing hole. We looked at each other and said over and over, “I can’t believe it!”

On the wall, listening to the ice chorus, my eyes closed and soaking up the sun, I photo-1remembered a conversation that I had years ago with Father Lauren when I was a student at The College of Santa Fe. We had great conversations because he knew I was not a believer in his faith. In many ways we saw the world from diametrically opposed points of view but rather than wrestle with winning the other to our perspective, we asked questions to try and understand. Father Lauren saw the earth as corrupt. I saw (and see) it as magnificent. We were talking about reincarnation and he’d just asked, “What kind of god would punish people by bringing them back to this place?” I responded with a phrase I’d recently heard in a lecture Joseph Campbell delivered about the gnostic gospels, “The kingdom of heaven is on earth and men just do not see it.”

Father Lauren closed his eyes and tried to spin his paradigm around. He asked, “So, we are already in heaven and simply need to open our eyes to the beauty of it all?”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s what I believe.”

He smiled, “I just can’t believe it.”

Standing on the sea wall, Kerri took my hand. The ice sang. She whispered, “I just can’t believe it.”  I wanted to reach back in time and tell Father Lauren, “Yes. That’s the thing! When you open your eyes and see heaven on earth, what you see is impossible to believe.” Heaven has nothing to do with belief and everything to do with what you choose to see.

“Me, too,” I whispered, the sun on my face. “It is unbelievable.”

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