“No I do not have a park pass”, my reply gives invitation to his purpose. He explains all the lovely parks and perks that such a sticker will give me entrée to. “Sold!” He dips his head into the car, his khaki ranger uniform giving him stature as he queries my Nubian female passenger. (I am expecting, ‘’Can I see your passport?”) Instead he asks her, “Are you single?’’ She beams and blushes a shine like mahogany. The flirt is on and we get chatted up. Really though he is a witness to love. The lake shimmers as a backdrop as he tells us the story of his love life. It is indeed a life of love. He is local boy, from the farm thumb of Michigan. All that water had him seeking; there must be great lake freighter sailor somewhere in his bloodline. He worked as a park ranger in the mountains of North Carolina. Marriage seemed not in the cards. He is handsome and affable, but perhaps he had too good of an eye for beauty. On a visit home to the thumb he met a widow who had raised eight children and fostered dozens. This was his much-anticipated soul mate. His eyes twinkle like the lakes water when he speaks of her. He still surprised somehow of this love and his yes to it. He sparkles still, even when he tells of her death of breast cancer. She beat it by five years. She wrote a list of all her dreams and this itchy-footed man took this woman who had never left the thumb of Michigan on a dream road trip. She witnessed the splendor of the national parks and tracked down foster children who she longed to hug. Though succumbing to cancer it was a good ending. He does not say why he returns to live in the thumb. Perhaps he wanted to smell the air and feel the wind of this pastured, watery haven, to remember in his homecoming the place and scent of his beloved. The thumb had the smell of her, the light of her. All this we learn while he is making change for our twenty.
He places the sticker in the window, preaches a bit about love and it being our purpose, the booth his pulpit. He tells us he is now “seeing” (this is a better word than dating, a man who sees a woman) Dawn. She was his real estate agent. Upon meeting him she tells him “ I have slept in your room. “ A widowed man he with still much fire he is intrigued by this comment, “I have slept in your room.” When his family sold the farm years before, her family had bought it. Seems two young souls, lay gazing out the window into the night skies all speckled with stars dreaming of love, praying for love. And now years later through it’s circuitous route they have found it again and each other.
And we are held for a few moments in witness to the word, and we are believers in his gospel of love. And as we walk the pier and gaze into the lake we pray with greater faith.