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There’s a small island in one of the nearby Saranac Lakes that has been on my list of places to go this summer since I first saw this image on Instagram. I’ve known the chapel was there for years but I’m still sorting through enough religious scrupulosity around church attendance that giving myself permission to visit more ecumenical environments has been rote with complexity (this is a longer story and someday I’ll share it).
It was about a twenty minute paddle to the island. The water was flat and calm on the paddle there and we pulled our kayaks straight into a space between the dock and the granite rock the chapel is set on. The service was small and simple and fairly packed with summer guests to the Adirondacks (folks named Wyoming, Montana, California, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and more as their home-states), as well as a few locals like ourselves. We sang Just as I Am and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. It felt a bit like camp which is to say I felt completely at home.
Our paddle back was on choppy waves and through a scattered downpour that drenched us through, stopping about ten yards from the shoreline. We stopped for lunch on the way home at a favorite cafe and people watched through the windows as hordes of summer guests hugged one another goodbye. It will be quiet around here for a week or so and then the college students all arrive, lugging their homes in their backseats and their hopes in their hearts. I love here.
Speaking of here and I won’t be saying much right now, but my lifelong dream (since I was 15!) has been to lead a retreat center somewhere in the wilderness. I grew up camping and worked at camps through my teens and all through college. I was a lifeguard, a counselor, a program director, a ropes facilitator, and more—pretty much everything except KP. And I loved it. I love it.
Part of my hope in finishing a degree in Christian Spiritual Formation and Leadership was to add to my tool-belt in this arena. Leading spiritual retreats in wilderness areas has always been the aim and end goal. I have ideas and plans and Pinterest boards galore, but all of it takes money and more than one would think. Every year or so, Nate and I peruse the available properties around the US, trying to find just the right one and then dreaming we know a multi-millionaire who would underwrite us. That hasn’t happened yet.
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