Lake Michigan Earth Exchange by Children

Andrea Friedman
Chicago, Illinois
2012

Story Info

Radical Joy For Hard Times Stories FriedmannBIRD

Story & Experience

The kids and I go to the lake in the morning. It stretches, vast and shining, beyond the horizon. I am overcome with its stillness and quiet. And yet, it’s waters are in constant, rhythmic movement.

Others arrive, many of them children, with long limbs and bouncy energy; they explore the water’s edge, venture briefly into the cold of it. We gather on the sandy shore and, together, we listen, to what arises from within each of us, for the lake, from it. And we play drums and rattles; one sunny child knocks rocks.

When quiet rises up amongst us again, we build mounds with the rocks, and a bird. The children quibble about the wing: it’s too long, too thin. They move the rocks, bring some sticks, open their minds. The bird is done to our collective satisfaction.

Then we line up where the waves end, and fill our cups with lake water. We hold those waters against our hearts. I think of all that we receive from it. I feel my gratitude radiate out of me, all around me, filling the cup and enveloping the children, the women, the couple sitting on a bench and enjoying their morning, the workmen tearing up the street on the other side of the park, the whole of this sprawling city and the corn fields beyond it, and further, further, where there are no edges, where nothing ends and all is beginnings.

I pour this all back into the lake with the water in my cup. One sprite-child begins a dance, slowly, magically, flinging her cup’s water out in an arc over her head, circling her body that dances and turns. The others follow suit. Everyone at their own pace, pouring water back into the lake, pouring healing and love back into the lake.

When we finish, a child speaks, from her heart, and says that we have made something beautiful, truly, because we brought only ourselves, and used what was given to us by the Lake.

Afterwards, at home, my son remarks that it’s usually girls who think about the Earth, about doing it service. But he thinks of it, too. And my heart is larger than my body on this day.

Chicago, Illinois

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