This week I have made my annual pilgrimage to what my family refers to as “our camp in Maine.” North Easterner’s often call cottages or small homes on a lake a “camp.” It was once quite rustic, but over the past 30 years it has evolved into a home with comforts couched in knotty pine and very basic amenities. But the true prize is the lake that our camp looks out onto. Great Moose Lake has provided stability, comfort, healing, and an opportunity for me and all who encounter it to really know Spirit through nature. It has become my refuge, my place of inspiration, and where I come to rejuvenate and teach my son about the things in life that are most important. In fact, I am looking out at it as I type.
It’s funny to watch people who come to visit us here for the first time. They arrive in a rush, still weighted by the busyness of their lives and responsibilities, and its hard for them to stop talking or even sit down for a few minutes. As each day passes, there is less and less conversation, more naps, watches disappear, and phones end up plugged into their chargers in a back bedroom. At the very least, all ringers are turned off. Its amazing to watch the transformation that takes place the longer you stay here. Whenever I first arrive each year, I walk around to “my rock” and take it all in. I am always struck by the silence that pulls me up short and forces me to slow down everything from my breathing to my thoughts. My awareness heightens. This year I want to share a bit of the lake with you, starting with some of the lessons I have gleaned from this beautiful place. Aptly, the acronym “STOPP” will be our guide.
S- Slow down-
As I mentioned, this is the first lesson that the lake teaches. The lake goes at its own pace, showing us the direction of the wind in its currents; some days its glassy, some days quite choppy. There is not a lot of hustle and bustle here. There is no rush, no agenda, and no schedule. Time becomes obsolete and unnecessary. Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired, tune in and listen to what your body needs.
T- Turn off your technology-
While at the camp there is a TV, but it is only used if there is breaking news, severe weather, or an exceptionally rainy day that might benefit from watching a movie. Otherwise, the sound of a television in the background is non-existent and frankly, disturbing. The lake does not encourage a lot of technological interference. As the years have gone by, and with the nature of self-employment for my entire family, unfortunately cell service and wi-fi has become available and necessary. So email, phone, and internet are still checked, but less and less so as the days go on. I always immediately turn my ringer off and do not keep my phone with me. It gets checked once per day (just to make sure none of you are having an emergency!) and stays in my room. It always feels so good to unplug from all the dings and rings that we become so conditioned to respond to. My awareness shifts from what is going on around me to what is happening inside.
O – Observe –
By its nature, the lake asks you to tune into your surroundings. Come into the present moment. Tune out the external noise. Tune into the peace within. Engage all your senses. Look at the sky, the clouds, the water, the current, the sunrise, the sunset, eagles, loons, and other creatures who occupy this land. Listen to the birds, the wind, thunder rumbling in the distance, families and children playing, boats cruising, or a random fish jumping out of the water. Smell the pine trees, dirt, the lake, and the clean fresh air. Touch the cool water, feel the cool breeze on your face, and absorb the warmth of the sun.
P- Play –
The lake invites you to let your inner child come out to play. Run, jump, swim, and float on the water. Get on a tube and ride fast behind the boat, try out water skiing or knee boarding and challenge your fears. Let go of restrictions on how you are supposed to act and allow your creativity to flow. Play games, color, and do puzzles. Sing out loud, take naps, and even put on a show. Make a campfire, eat smores, and jump off the dock. The lake gives so many opportunities to get back in touch with the original, authentic, you.
The ultimate gift of the lake is presence of mind, body, and spirit. When you sit out in a kayak, on a boat, innertube, or rest on the rock or dock, the quiet takes over and your mind quiets down. It is a great time to ask and ponder the bigger questions of your life and listen for the answer. There is a wonderful quote by John Denver in his song Rocky Mountain High: “Talk to God and listen to the casual reply.” The same concept applies here at the lake. Spirit is infused in every single aspect: it breathes in the trees, wafts through the grass, glides through the water, and laps up on the shore, answers come fast and abundantly here. The only requirement is to allow yourself to get quiet enough to listen.
You may have a place to visit like the lake, or you may create it in your home or even in your mind. Allow yourself the opportunity to apply these lessons in your daily life. I look forward to hearing all about your experience!