Spirituality for Everyday Life
Sustaining Memories ~
Many summers ago, my father, my two sons, who were about fifteen, and I spent a week canoeing in the backcountry of Ontario’s Algonquin Park. One acquires a layer of uncomfortable grunge on such expeditions, and so I planned to clean off in the water about midway through the trip.
We camped on a small peninsula jutting into one of the hundreds of lakes marking Algonquin and, as the sun began to set, I eased a canoe into the water and paddled to a nearby stretch of rock for some privacy. I lathered myself up as completely as I could while remaining dry, and then slipped into the frigid water. My goal was to rinse hair and body as thoroughly and speedily as possible so that I could clamber back onto the rock and dry off before I was frozen into a pillar of ice, never to look back.
Afterward, there would have been fleece clothing and a campfire, packs hoisted into the trees to discourage bears, and a night curled up in a tent. A routine evening, its memory merged with others. But I do recall clearly the beauty of that cold bath in a remote lake as the sky lit up with streaks of evening sunlight.
That interlude was what I thought about this morning as I engaged in the arduous task of wheeling my scooter to the kitchen sink, washing my hair, wheeling to the tiny half bath to sponge bathe the rest of me, and wheeling to the living room to dress.
Algonquin canoe trips seem a distant memory on this blizzard of a day when I am immobilized by a broken ankle. And yet, I have little to complain about on this icy afternoon of yet more snowfall; I am warm and safe inside. It was a perfect little grace to daydream about Algonquin while I bathed rather than to focus on the effort it took to accomplish the same thing this month!