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Photos of Horseshoe Bay on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula
My older son and I drove north a couple of days ago to visit my younger son at Michigan Tech in Houghton/Hancock, Michigan. We did what this family has always done. We observed the world around us, to see what could be seen. We drove farther north to Copper Harbor, to the top of Brockway Mountain Drive and out toward the tip of the Keweenaw peninsula to Horseshoe Harbor where Lake Superior ceaselessly, and to varying degrees of intensities, pummels the shoreline.
This is no normal beach-type shoreline. Sometime in the distant past, a stony conglomerate was thrust upward by forces beneath it. You would have to ask my sons for the geologic explanation of this. Their mother entrusted them with all of this knowledge. She tried to instill it in me, but alas, I have a defective memory. I listen, I read, I don't remember much. But this upthrust, or outcropping, I don't know which, rises about twenty feet upward and is thirty or forty feet across. It runs along the shore, unbroken for nearly half a mile until it rises and falls below the water line across the mouth of the harbor.
A 2010 film on the beauty of Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Algae and Lichens
A casual observer might dismiss this horizontal monolith as nothing more than dead, old rock. But we climbed to its spine and walked its entire length. Is it only dead rock? My younger son pointed out a whitish blue portion of a rock. It looked like someone had spray painted over the browns, blacks and reds beneath. It was actually a type of fossil; ancient blue-green algae; a sign that life had once thrived here, or wherever the rock we stood on was thrust up from.
But it wasn't just this petrified plant/animal that inhabited the rock. Everywhere, and I mean covering nearly the whole surface of the rock, were patches of growing stuff; sometimes white, sometimes yellow, then green, red, orange. Living organisms are still thriving on top of bare rock. Lichens, algae, fungi, all doing their part to break down the rock in order to produce fertile soil for grasses, trees and flowers.
Nature Is a Metaphor
But this isn't a science lesson. Actually it is a metaphor. I don't usually like metaphors. I like to see what I see, read what I read and leave it at that. But when I look at the natural world around me, I believe I am to learn something about myself, life, the world, society, even God. That means that metaphor will probably be a part of my life, so I may as well get used to it. Metaphor is not the only way to learn from nature though. Sometimes it is quite literal. I look at the vast night sky, and I know that my God is bigger, more powerful and older than it all.
But today I learned from a metaphor. The old stone, the petrified blue-green algae, created the unlikely seed bed for living organisms of today. There have been some brilliant people on this earth. Some of them I know about and some of them may have come and gone without anyone but their nearest relatives and friends to benefit from their wisdom. They have left the results of their intellectual, moral, spiritual and emotional work behind them. Those thoughts are with us still; sometimes in books and sometimes in folklore and often in "old wives' tales". My thoughts are not original. My concept of God isn't all my own. I have gleaned everything I am from others. I have a wealth of input at my fingertips from people who think and have thought deeply, from people who feel and have felt deeply. I take what others give me and make it my own. I recognize their part in my development. It is their intellectual, spiritual and emotional work that provides food for my growth.
Maybe, in turn, I will be able to have a positive impact on someone else. It doesn't have to be heralded from the mountaintops or published in a book. This is where the subject I am talking about fits into my philosophy of living. I want to be sober, really, I mean sober.....I'm an alcoholic. I want to be sane. I have spent enough time in a type of insanity. It is part of the alcoholism. I want to be serene. I can create chaos if there isn't already some naturally occurring around me at the moment. Finally, I want to serve others. I have lived selfishly. It's time to give, without expecting anything in return.
nature is God's revelation of Himself
I love looking at the natural world around me. It is God's revelation to me personally, without an intermediary; no words to interpret, no message whispered to someone in secret and passed on to me second hand. It is my daily desire, to see, hear and perceive what God wants to show me, and then to pass it on in service to others.