In one sense every place can be a holy place. For our God who is in all, and through all – a God who was and is and is to come – He is everywhere, which makes every place a potential holy place. Special events happen from time to time and we can become more aware of God’s presence.
For six years I joined a group from the Thessalon Church of Christ on an annual canoe trip. The trip was planned by Julie’s cousin Roger Mulligan, a former forest ranger who worked for years doing aerial photography for the Ministry of Natural Resources. He is a great friend and a great guy to go camping with because of he is very knowledgeable about the land, the forest and the present practices of forest management.. The week has been a ‘sacred’ experience for me.
To get there we would turn off the Trans Canada Highway and drive north on highway 547 until it ended at Frontier Lodge. We would drop our canoes in Rottier Lake and paddle across, walk the canoes over a hill and into Great Trout Lake, portage again, and finally paddle around the point to a sandy beach on Rawhide Lake. It is reeeeemote. At night it seems deafeningly quiet. The wind quietly swirls through the tops of white pine trees, some of which are over a hundred years old and the world feels like it has stopped. The stars dazzle you as they turn overhead. If I ever crack up and lose it and people can’t find me have someone check the beach on Rawhide. I am sure that is where I would go.
Across the lake from our camping site is a cliff face that towers over 100 metres above the lake. Local Aboriginal communities call it Spirit Mountain and pagan spiritual symbols can be found on the summit. For them it is a sacred place, a home to spirits. From the mountain top there is a breathtaking view where you can see for miles in all directions; all the way back to where our trip began three lakes away!
On our trip in 2006 Devin borrowed a fishing rod from one of the teens on the trip and caught a 3-4 lb large mouth bass before our first portage.
It was his first fish and he glowed with pride about it the rest of the trip. They guys he was with were really great about it and pumped him up accordingly. The best however was yet to come.
There is a waterfall at the first portage where the overflow from Rawhide Lake pours over a dam set up by Environment Canada and shoots across a massive sheet of granite before tumbling down a waterfall into the stream below. It is the most beautiful, relaxing place I have ever seen on earth. You can stand on the bedrock just below the dam and look straight across the surface of the lake as the cool clear water swishes quickly past your feet.
There are steps below that you can sit on and have the cool lake water massage your back as it runs right over you. During one return trip home a few years ago I paused while in the waterfall and set my watch to go off at that exact time. For more than a year I would pause at 2: 48 pm and remember this place.
This time, Jacob joined me in playing in the rapids for the first time while we waited for the group to arrive and his face was just filled with joy. He was delighted with his own bravado and courage and two years later we still talk about that day. This picture I have of that moment is my favourite picture of him. It is a picture of pure, innocent delight.
It wasn’t the place that was sacred but the moment. Both of my boys became aware of their ‘wild nature’ (in the words of John Eldridge, Wild At Heart) and aware of the enduring affection of their father. It was a sacred, blessed moment.
The trees and the dam are still there and the rock that ran under our feet will endure for centuries but, like the water, the moment is gone now. The pictures and the joyful memories are all that remains of that sacred place.