Many years ago, when my daughters were still little girls who liked to play dress-up and run through the sprinkler, I took them on a holiday to Gardum Lake, a magical place in the Okanagan. There were no televisions, no video games, no electronic devices to disturb the peace and tranquility of the space. There were only people, engaging together in community, sharing summer fun by the lake.
We stayed in a tiny one room cabin, complete with wood burning stove in case the summer night got cool. It never did.
During the day, we would take a canoe out into the lake and drift aimlessly on its smooth waters or paddle along the shore counting Painted Turtles scuttling about along the water’s edge. We saw beavers and lake otters and geese and ducks and played on the beach and built sand castles and played make-believe.
Make believe I am an angry dragon spewing fire everywhere! I would cry. And the girls would run around and squeal and hide in the bushes and I would chase them and make-believe I gobbled them up when I caught them. We’d laugh and tell stories and even the angry dragon lost his ferociousness when it was discovered he was angry because he loved ice cream and every time he went to eat it, the ice cream would melt beneath the fire of his breath. Because I was the angry dragon, I would have buckets of lake water dumped upon me in the girls’ efforts to douse my fire. Once the dragon’s flame was tamed, we’d pile into the car and off we’d go to the nearest grocer’s to buy ice cream cones and other treats.
One night, when the girls were fast asleep, I sat on the porch of our tiny cabin and savoured the stillness of the night. Far above, the moon and stars danced in the heaven’s glow. The lake was ice still. A sheet of glass skating off into the darkness all around.
The stillness of the night called to my heart to step deeper into the silence.
I pulled on a life vest and let the woman in the cabin next to me know I was going for a midnight paddle. After a busy day chasing after her toddler son and daughter, she too thought it was a brilliant idea and donning her life vest climbed into the canoe to join me.
Silently, we paddled away from shore, mindful to keep our cabins always in view. When we had gone far enough, we both stopped paddling and let the rocking of the canoe ease into the stillness.
Above us, the ink black sky shimmered with a thousand x a thousand stars lighting the night-time sky with wonder. As we sat silently in the canoe, not moving, the waters around us stilled and once again the surface of the lake reassembled into a mirror streaking off into the dark.
I sat, barely breathing as the stillness embraced me. In the distance, a loon cried. An owl hooted. And silence descended once again in the dark.
I looked below into the inky waters surrounding me and saw a thousand x a thousand stars reflected up from the lake bottom, as if all the stars in the sky were dancing below shining up into the night. I felt as though I could reach down into the water and pluck a star out and hold it in my hand.
It was magical. Mystical. Awe-inspiring.
Surrounded by starlight above and below me, I felt the oneness of being part of something so magnificent, so enormous as this universe shimmering in the dark, breathing as one with me.
And I knew in that moment, the words of the melody I had sung with the girls around the blazing fire pit that evening were true,
I walk in beauty now, beauty lies before me, beauty lies above me, behind and below me.
May you walk in beauty today.