Turtles & Dragonflies
It was a beautiful, sunny, Sunday afternoon. After a wonderful time of worship, I was looking forward to a quiet afternoon on the lake, in my kayak, communing with God and nature. Apparently, everyone in Rockland County had a similar idea because Harriman State Park was so crowded that several of the roads had been closed and I was forced to detour.
Very quickly I realized that I would have to drive about 45 minutes in order to get back to the lake. OK. My idyllic afternoon had been delayed. But I was determined to get there. So I took a deep breath and continued driving. When I finally arrived at the lake, it was so crowded that cars were double parked all over the parking lot, all along the driveway and even along the roadside. But I was not about to be thwarted. I drove down to the boat launch, unloaded my kayak, drove back up the hill and found a parking spot down the street. I schlepped myself and the rest of my gear back down to the lake in anticipation of a great afternoon.
As I approached the boat launch it became clear to me that this was not a beach launching, like I was used to; it was an actual dock. I would have to lower my kayak down into the water and try to get into it without tipping over – something at which I did not have a lot of experience. And I would have to do this in front of a huge crowd of strangers! My relaxing afternoon was quickly becoming complicated.
I decided to swallow my pride and ask for help. With the assistance of my new friends, I was able to get my kayak and myself into the lake. I was finally here and ready for some peace and quiet. Except that all around the shores of the lake, large groups of families were enjoying the beautiful afternoon – very loudly. As I paddled away from the shore, I began to notice the sound of cars and motorcycles noisily zooming around the lake. OK. It’s not going to be quiet. But I can still enjoy a paddle.
I very carefully took my cell phone out of my dry bag to text my husband and let him know where I was. As I looked at the screen I noticed that I had just missed a FaceTime call from my granddaughter! Quickly, I dialed her back and was disappointed to realize that out on the lake I had no signal. My shoulders slumped. Would it never end?! Was my afternoon destined to be filled with complications, inconvenience and disappointment?
For more than an hour I paddled and drifted, listened and watched, content to just be with God, in His creation and in His arms.
I pressed on, paddling across the lake into an isolated cove. And suddenly, there it was: quiet, peace, solitude. I watched a dragonfly land silently on the bow of my kayak. Tiny, intricate and beautiful, its body was a rainbow of prismatic color, its wings, translucent. Then there was another one and another. There were dozens of them, flitting over the surface of the water. In complete silence. I stopped paddling and just drifted, watching and listening. I began to hear the birds calling out to one another and the cicadas chirping rhythmically. I watched a turtle sitting on a rock, perfectly still, basking in the sun – nowhere to go, nothing to do, no worries.
The frustration of the previous hours melted away and I was in the presence of God. For more than an hour I paddled and drifted, listened and watched, content to just be with God, in His creation and in His arms.
Written by Lt. Col. Patricia LaBossiere
Secretary for Spiritual Life Development