Sunday, May 28, 2017

Water from the Rock

For years now, we've spent the May long weekend with members of our church and their families at Rundle's Mission on Pigeon Lake. It's a lovely spot with a fascinating history that predates a lot of the settlements in that part of the province. We play bocce and bolaball, share meals, and play boardgames in the evenings when the mosquitoes take over the outdoors.

On this visit however, I found my attention drawn to an artesian well found just off the boardwalk that takes visitors to the sites of some of the original missionary settlements from the 1840s.

It bubbles out of the ground unassumingly, meanders down a hillside and then under the road and into the lake.

On our earliest visits here, the girls loved to visit what they called 'the babbling brook'. Many a young visitor trudged back to the lodge with a soaked shoe after their sneaker failed to maintain its purchase on a mossy rock in the creek, but it is far too shallow to cause much more distress than that.

Sunday afternoon, I walked out on the boardwalk and spent some time by the spring, fascinated by the appearance of water, seemingly from nowhere, with only the faintest rippling to indicate any sort of motion at all. The pool itself maintains the same level, as if by magic.

I turned my attention to the path taken by the stream, meandering this way and that, drawn by gravity to the lake, making its way in a shallow bed that alternated between rocky and muddy as it passed underneath some fallen trees.

The sun was bright, when I squinted my eyes against it, it was easier to hear not only the sound of the water, but other sounds as well.
- the whistle of wind through the poplar.
- the tweeting of unfamiliar birdsong, as well as robins and blackbirds.
- the occasional crack as a swaying branch or trunk was pushed past its limit.
- the staccato tapping of a large woodpecker, which eluded my best efforts to spot him.
It's astonishing to me how much sanctity exists in such places. The Irish speak sometimes of what they call 'thin spaces', suggesting that there are spots where perhaps the veil between the world we understand and everything else is more permeable. I'd always imagined such places to be more soulbound; perhaps the site of a great battle or a haunting loss, or a familial tragedy.

Who knows, though; perhaps a spot where geological factors align and allow a subterranean aquifer to trickle forth onto the earth and into a lake could be a thin space as well. I felt no real presence, per se, nor any energy or suchlike, but I did experience a tranquility that has become rarer and rarer in modern life.

I can't tell you how much time I spent there; if I had found a comfortable place to sit, I might be there still.

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