Noticings – October 12, 2023

Larry Island
“I’m transported to and immersed in a sacred place.”

I’m writing today from one of my happiest places on earth: Larry Island. It’s a tiny little patch of rocky land about 150 square feet small. It’s connected to the shore by an arched footbridge, about 20 feet long. You won’t find it on any map. Larry Island is on Stony Lake, at the Kingfisher Bay Retreat Centre, near Burleigh Falls, where I’m attending the annual Men’s Spirituality Retreat with 14 other men, predominately ministers.

I’ve been part of this event for many years, and in significant ways it is deep heart space for me. Part of that is the men, many of whom I’ve come to know well, even though I only see them once a year. We sit in a circle and drum, and sing, and pass a sacred speaking stone and share our stories and lives. It is a rich and sacred time apart. (Yes, I’m still working this week with worship prep, zoom meetings, phone calls, and a wedding on Saturday.)

Interestingly, I didn’t name my island. The guys named it. When I didn’t attend last year while on sabbatical, they looked out and remarked that it was odd to have a men’s retreat and not see Larry on his island. The name stuck. I am honoured! Obviously, I spend a lot of time on ‘my’ island.

It’s my special, holy place here. I don’t know what attracted me to this little island, but something about crossing the footbridge and sitting on an island in the bay makes it feel like I’m transported to and immersed in a sacred place. Here I wrestle big questions, and think deep thoughts. And here I just breathe deep breaths and marvel at creation.

There was a handsome tree on Larry Island, but it got blown over in the big wind storm of 2022, as did many, many other trees here. (Rocky ground prevents deep roots.) What’s remarkable, though, is this tree’s resiliency. Uprooted and knocked over, there are now several strong new shoots of growth emerging from its fallenness. There it is again. Dying and rising. Resurrection and new life from the ending of what was.

Meanwhile, as always, the wind rustles the leaves, the ducks, and geese, and swans dive under the water hunting for food, and the turtles lazily make their way in the shallows. Larry Island is different than when I was last here, and also the same. Just like Larry.