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The Point

August 4, 2008

For those of you (if there are any of you) who regularly check this blog for a dose of commentary on the state of our Jewish community, please indulge me a personal digression.

For the past few days I have been visiting my parents at their summer lake cottage in the Adirondacks.  It is located on the shore of Willsboro Bay of Lake Champlain and has been in our family since 1967.  I came here as a child and now I bring my children here – it is a place of continuity for me, and a place I feel most at home.

Now I will admit, the first days of my visit were a bit rocky.  As a special treat, I brought with me my five year-old and three year-old daughters, leaving at home my wife who is spending some one-on-one time with our two-month old son.  Now anyone who has had children knows, taking young children out of their regular routine can be difficult.  And taking them away from home can be especially challenging.  And taking them away from their mother is no easy task. Doing all three at one time?  Well, let’s just say that is hard.  Really hard. And so the first three days of the trip were a bit of a mixed bag.  A bunch of highlights, some predictable adolescent meltdowns, and a lot of in-betweens.

But today it all came together.  Despite a (typical) early-morning wake-up (their choice, not mine), the girls played beautifully together and despite the (typical) lengthy, albeit beautiful drive over the mountains towards Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, the girls had a wonderfully fun time at The Wild Center: The Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks in Tupper Lake.  They were sweet to their grandparents for treating them to such a nice day and tonight, as I was tucking them, in they couldn’t have been any more loving to me either.

It is days like this that outweigh all other days.

And then tonight I followed my usual ritual of walking to the Point. The Point is the northernmost point at the edge of the Willsboro Point peninsula on Lake Champlain, and is only a few minute walk from our family cottage.  It is a rocky little area that juts out into the lake where facing east on a clear day you can see Burlington, Vermont and facing west you look across the mouth of Willsboro Bay.

But to me, the Point is a whole lot more.

It is a place of repose, and a place where I can hear water all around me, see sky all above me and feel a calmness permeate through me.  It is only a short walk up a dirt road and down an even dirtier path, but when you walk through the edge of the tree line it is like a different world opens up to you. Everything else you know is behind you and the Point is the only thing ahead of you. It is exactly the last place you were before you got there, and there is nowhere else to go. It is a place yet it is no place. It is… the Point.

And today as I walked up the road to the path that leads to the Point, I looked over at the lake and studied the beginning of the sunset. The lake is high this summer, the rains have been heavy and quarrelsome, stubbornly persisting in a summer that is usually filled with much more sun. The path was muddy because all of the rain, and slippery under foot – at a result, this year it took me many more and smaller steps to get to the Point.  And as I approached the tree line I noticed the dissipating body of a fallen bird and resigned myself to noting that even while walking this year’s path to the Point the penumbra of Death was unavoidable.

But then when I walked through the tree line I was there… I was at the Point.  The majestic, inspiring, humbling Point.  It was the same Point I visited with last year, but like every year before, I saw it with different eyes.  I reached it by walking the same path, but with slightly different feet.  Was it the same Point and I was different? Or was I the same, but the Point had changed?

So standing on the Point tonight I was overwhelmed with questions.  Studying the water lapping around the Point’s cragged edges, I wondered if the water was winning its endless effort of domination or was the Point? When I visit the Point in my annual journey down the muddy path do I give it strength to persevere in the face of the swirling waters, or does it give me strength to do the same? And why come here in the first place, why is the Point so perfect in my mind?

And then I remembered my day with my children. And I remembered my day with my parents. And I remembered how I talked about both with my wife. And at the Point, my questions slowed and my answers emerged.

Was this day the perfect day? Is this place the perfect place?

I believe it was and I believe it is.

And I believe that is the Point.

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