the people here first, the people long long ago, the ones who were blessed, who lived off its forests and lakes, the ones whose very skin knew the touch of the divine all around, the ones who gave names to each tree and each dip in the path, they would have had a name for this place. a name that rolled off the tongue.
my name is not so poetic. my name is simple. i call it the place where the prayers come.
i am pulled there, to the tall grasses that grow in the sand at the edge of the lake, the great lake. i am pulled there like some sort of tide in reverse.
the waves roll in one way. i roll in from the other.
especially these days. especially here in the autumn when the sun is offering up its very being. solar balm, just barely diluted. just enough so you can take it in doses longer than that of the summer.
it whispers, it pulses, the sun does, the promise of healing, of filling us up for the long winter ahead.
come now, i feel it saying. come to the place where the prayers come. come to the place where the wind whispers, too. where the wind in the grasses rustles and stirs and tingles your spine. and the gull cries. and every once in a while the geese fly, in their uncanny lines, with the one in the front squawking and honking like nobody’s business. like some bossy old thing i’d be tempted to bump out of line. go sit in a corner, i might want to tell that unruly gander, till you learn to behave. but then no one said it’s easy being in charge.
the october sun lures: come to the place where the lake never stops. some days it crashes, others it tickles. but the sound is incessant. no matter what else, there is always the play of the water on sand.
it’s a place where the sky is the dome and the vault is forever. the church has no walls. its very architecture demands the propelling of thoughts. there’s the rustle within, and the catapult beyond. a horizon that’s infinite. that has room for whatever flows.
there is no feeling cramped in the pews in this place. you can wiggle your toes in the sand, for crying out loud. you can feel like a ladybug, too. nestled there in the grasses that bob in the sun, play catch with the rays, turn golder than gold. and then dim.
you get caught up in the swirl here. in the sounds and the sun and the sand.
there is no sign that’s posted. other than the one about keep off the ice. but that belongs to a whole other season, and i pay no mind.
still, i notice, time after time, that i’m not the only one called here. there’s a sprinkling of others. all of us joined in the hushed and holy communion of publicly dropping our guard, unspooling what lays in our hearts.
oh, not a whisper is spoken. it’s quiet as any cathedral. at least in terms of the noises of humans.
it’s as sacred as church. maybe moreso. there is an unspoken knowing our thoughts and our prayers are not to be jostled. there are no interruptions of everyday small talk. that would be sacrilege.
some slip their fingers down the edge of a page, turn it slowly. others, like me, bring their prayers in free form.
there are benches for those who don’t favor sand. but me, i bury myself there in the grasses. like a quail in a rush, i go as small as i can. i like to feel little. against a sky and a God without beginning or end.
it makes me feel wrapped, held in very big arms.
as much as i love the tick-tocks and hum of my house, there is, i must admit, something about being out under the heavens. about being enveloped by the most blessed earth. even the sharp edge of the grasses serves to awaken some place deep inside. and there is no softer softness than the bump of the beach under your bottom. it’s as if i’m surrounded by a choir that won’t call it quits.
i never stay long. i don’t feel the need to. the fuel that comes there, in the place of the prayer, it is rather intense. it fills me quite fully. and it lasts.
till the whisper comes once again. come to the prayer place. come to the place where the prayers come.
and so i start walking. i never can wait till i get there. it’s as holy a place as i know.
and i think that the people from long long ago, i think they knew, too.
i’m not the first one, nor the last, i imagine, to be called to the place where the prayers come.
how blessed that amid all the horns and the sirens and the buzzing cacophony we’ve brought to these once sacred woods, i hear the whisper, i follow the call.
my beautiful friends, do you have a place where the prayers come? a place out under the heavens? tell us the tale of your place, one of now or one from long long ago…