Summer is a time to relax, a time to nurture experiences which will help to sustain you when the season changes and the demands of work and life seem to accelerate. What follows is a short meditation on kayaking which I wrote during a recent vacation week.
Today I paddled a kayak across Crescent Lake in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Crescent Lake is much smaller than the nearby Lake Winnipesaukee and has the virtue of being much quieter during a weekday jaunt. Why do I like to do it? There’s the exercise of course – an hour kayak ride can be the major workout of your day. It’s also an ideal way to observe nature at close quarters. For example, ten minutes into my ride today, I paddled near a rock and noticed an unusual formation. On top of the grey rocks, a large, olive-hued turtle was sunning itself. I smiled and paddled by without disturbing this creature of the wild. Later, I navigated from the lake unto a narrow stream which serves as a causeway between Crescent Lake and the much larger Lake Wentworth. Along the route, white birches helped mark the shorelines.
I reached the larger lake, then circled back to stay within my target timing for the voyage. Along the return route, the only other boats I saw were fellow kayakers and the lake surface grew smoother. About halfway back, I heard a distinctive loud call—the cry of the loon. Sure enough, just up ahead, I saw the distinctive long black neck of a loon skimming across the lake’s surface, before it dove under water to go looking for live fish. The loons won’t be found on a day when the motorboats dominate the lake, so their presence helps mark times when the kayak experience can be both quiet and offer opportunities to commune with nature in her various aspects, be they fish, fowl or fauna.
So, what about the spiritual aspect? Kayaking on your own is a solitary pursuit. It’s just you, the kayak, the water and whatever else you see along the way. I never feel closer to the community of life than I do when I’m out exploring nature in a direct way.
Kayaking is a low footprint approach to engaging with nature and shares those attributes with other outdoor sports I enjoy such as hiking, bicycling and cross country skiing. During these moments, I can sense the connectedness between myself as a person and the rest of our planet. It’s also a fine time to offer up thanks to God or another spiritual representation you may relate to and to ponder the great beauties of nature around us, which were there before us and will be there after we have departed. In these times, it is also much easier to sense our role as stewards for the world around us. We are all part of a much bigger narrative than we tend to consider during the average day in the office or at home.
Take a ride on a kayak or a walk in the woods and you may find that your spiritual inner being is there waiting for you, ready to take you on journeys which will nourish you long after this particular day is done.
Are there particular activities which help you to relax and let your spiritual side engage with the world around you?