I've taken the past week off to try to slow down and focus on important things in my life. I've spent way too much time reading my TIU email, this week specifically but in life generally, but I've also gotten to spend some time doing things I enjoy. I've gotten to read a couple of books about leading Bible studies published by InterVarsity and the Navigators that I hope will lead to good things for my LIFE group. I was able to make a good start on Alexander Ventner's Doing Church, a book about the Vineyard model for church. I planned an interesting Bible study on Romans 12:1-2 and got some direction for where the group will be going next. I was able to try the lunch buffets at Pizza Hut, a Chinese restaurant (Yen wouldn't have liked it), and The Curry Pot (I don't know if Daniel would have liked it. I did. It wasn't as good as The Peacocke in Vernon Hills or Tandoor in Lexington but it was all right. I liked the goat curry). I also got to have lunch at Portillo's with my friend Jason yesterday before playing a solo game of disc golf (it almost proved disastrous when a practice throw didn't clear the path on the last hole. If that had been the real throw I would have had to finish the hole with my pants around my ankles, traumatic for the class of new mothers that was meeting outside on the sled hill.). I even did some cleaning and laundry.
The best part of the week was a visit to Illinois Beach State Park this morning. I couldn't have asked for better weather. It was clear and sunny with the temperature around 70 degrees inland and maybe in the low 60's along the beach. The park was almost empty where I was. I think I saw 4 people while I was walking around. There were more further north by the lodge and bath house but I didn't go up there. I love to walk the Dead River Nature Trail and Dune Trail at the park. The nature trail is a 1.8 mile loop that leaves from the parking lot at the nature center (never open in any of my visits to the park) that runs south along the Dead River, a little river that flows into Lake Michigan when it can get enough pressure to push through the sandbar, before leaving the river and running back to the center. The trail runs through a little open woods of short scraggly trees and underbrush. I've never seen much wildlife there other than birds, but there are a lot of birds. It's a really pleasant and pretty little area. Best of all you can't really hear any cars, a real treat. The Dune Trail starts at the lodge and runs south parallel to the lake shore but behind a low dune ridge before turning away from the lake and running through the woods to the nature center and then back to the lodge. The treat there is listening to the waves lap the beach and the gulls. Both trails are amazingly peaceful, very quiet and calm except for the lake and the birds. When I went out on the beach the beauty almost took my breath away. I can't remember any body of water more beautiful than Lake Michigan was today. It was crystal clear as it came into the shore and a deep blue heading out to the horizon mirroring the sky with the sun sparkling on the little waves. There were times when I would be mowing the lawn out behind the temple at the Synagogue when the Lake would take my breath as I looked out off the bluff. Today was as pretty as any of those. Probably the day at Split Rock on the North Shore of Lake Superior or the day at Naupflion on the Mediterranean were as beautiful but it's hard to imagine. It made me wonder what it must have been like for the first Indians who came through those dunes and saw the Lake for the first time. I can only imagine their awe and wonder. I love the lake and I don't visit it near often enough. It was just a perfect day to wander in the woods and the dunes and marvel at God and his handiwork. Praise the Lord!
It's been a good week.