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Called Home: The Sunset Side of the Lake

by | Sep 18, 2013 | Uncategorized | 3 comments

I can’t think of too many weekends more perfect than that Labor Day weekend in 2007. Three good friends and I loaded cars and trekked to the lake house we were borrowing on Lake Michigan just near Saugatuck, Michigan late on Friday night. Clear, blue skies, perfect 80-degree temperatures, warm lake water and sandy beaches provided the backdrop to our Sabbath. I practiced yoga on the deck; We took leisurely bike rides; We tasted local wines; we played frisbee in the water; but, most of all, we didn’t do much of anything. Our big decisions involved what to make for dinner and arguing about who was going to climb the steep steps in the side of the bluff to retrieve supplies at the house.


Sunset on Lake Michigan 2007. Photo by Greg Briggs.

When I moved to Iowa almost five years ago, I had no idea how hard it would be for me to be away from a large body of water. I can’t explain the magic that happens when I walk or even just drive near Lake Michigan. A primal calm falls over me no matter how chaotic or crazed my spirit and psyche are. If I couldn’t be near the lake, I’ll just have to bring some of the lake to me, I reasoned. I asked a friend to retrieve some lake water and sand in a jar for me to take back during after return visit. The water has remained in a sealed jar in my living room ever since. It provides a living reminder of the calm I experience in that place.

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My own little jar of Lake Michigan.

Though I spent most of my adult life in the Chicago area, I’ve done brief stints in Michigan over the years. For a summer, I was the site assistant at Tower Hill Camp in Sawyer, Michigan. For a few months, I lived with friends in Battle Creek, Michigan, becoming an honorary choir member of First Congregational UCC. Even though I’ve seen a few beautiful sunrises on Lake Michigan in Chicago, I’ve seen more more sunsets on the Michigan side of the lake.

Even though those times in Michigan were brief, I feel like moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan to become the area minister for the Michigan Conference UCC feels like a homecoming. Since we announced my move to the new position last week, I’ve been overwhelmed by the open arms of old friends and new colleagues.

God is so good. I am grateful to finally call “home” a place that has called from afar for a very long time.


  1. Deb Downey

    Thank you for this, Nicole. You will be missed!

  2. Kate

    Oh my gosh! Enjoy the heck out of Kalamazoo! 🙂 I rode the train through there when I was going to/from college on ye olde Amtrak (Battle Creek too, now that I think about it). Enjoy MI <3

    • prayitforward247

      Thanks so much, Kate. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve spent time there before and I love it!


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