Day 14 – Renewing old Friendships

Electing not to change our clocks for just one day, we woke up in the Central Time Zone, although we were sleeping in the Eastern Zone. No matter, it was morning in both places and there were parks to see that were closed yesterday.

Just a few blocks from where we stayed we saw the Visitor Center for Isle Royale, a large undeveloped island in Lake Superior. The film about the island informed us of it’s natural wilderness and all the opportunities for backpacking, canoeing and camping. It’s a haven for the “quiet sports” like hiking, biking, and paddling. Not wanting to engage in any of these sports at this time, but just wanting to learn of the land and geography of the area, we felt satisfied. It takes a six hours boat ride to reach the island and then requires an overnight before returning. It really is remote, but I can imagine the rewards of a visit would be memorable. Today we were just happy to stand at the launching point for travelers on their way there.

From there we returned to Calumet to see the Keweenaw National Park dedicated to the copper mining industry that was prevalent in the area until the 1970’s. During the late 1800’s the copper industry lured immigrants from all over Europe. When Calumet was booming, there were 34 different churches – each serving a different ethnic group, not to mention different religious traditions! There were six Catholic churches alone. One each for the Polish; Irish; Italian; French; Spanish; and German miners and their families.

Interestingly, we also learned that since the copper mines have been emptied, the inhabitants of Calumet are trying to reinvent their community. The National Park status for their area and the way of life of their ancestors has given them a renewal and a new direction. Seems I was right on track with my observations from yesterday. They are well on their way to making the shift; to change with the times and meet the needs of today. Adaptability is a huge grace – and one we are not always willing to embrace. It is inspiring to see a whole community facing the changing of their livelihood and with it their town and its attractions.

Leaving the Keweenaw peninsula of Michigan we had 6 hours of driving to reach our destination in La Crosse, Wisconsin. We passed the time by – you guessed it – listening to “Philosophize This.” We are now up to the 1600’s and the thinkers of the day who were trying to explain the existence of God. It’s all quite fascinating, and fun to discuss after each episode. “I like what he said; not so much what he said.” It’s almost like reexamining our own thoughts and beliefs in light of the greatest thinkers of their age. If God is infinite, then all things are a part of God; and another name for God is nature. Courtesy of Baruch Spinoza. Just a short YouTube if you’re not familiar with Spinoza¬†and would like to see some more of his thought. I found I could easily agree with him on most points.

The forests, lakes, rivers, cranberry bogs, dairy farms, corn fields, and farms sped by while the sky grew darker and darker. Finally, about an hour out of La Crosse, the clouds opened and dumped rain right until we reached the city limits. Perfectly timed for us!

We found our dear friend and delighted in reuniting. She graciously set us up for the night and we went in search of nourishment. Breaking bread together was like eucharist and it was so wonderful to pick up the conversation right where we had left it the last time we were together. Good friends are a grace beyond telling . . . and as the contemporary theologian Michael Himes would say, “When you meet with a good friend and share a lively conversation, God is what is happening between you.” I couldn’t agree more!