Dear Green Lake
When I moved to Seattle in the fall of 1976, you were my first discovery beyond the confines of the little college I was attending. I’d made friends with lots of runners so, of course, they brought me to you. We’d run the lake and then head over to Beth’s Cafe for a giant omelette or cinnamon roll. You introduced me to seasons that first year: spectacular fall colors graced the lakeside trees, shoreline ice and stark grey trees in winter, vibrant blossoms and infinite shades of green each spring. You seduced me, and I started falling in love with Seattle. Throw in a Sonics World Championship, a new football team, and world class symphony and Seattle won my heart.
Before my five year departure from Washington, I walked the frozen shores with the woman who is now my wife and after that walk, made a decision to propose. When we left Seattle in 1979, we grieved. Little did we know that, 16 years later, we’d return with our young family as I followed my calling to Bethany Community Church, just a few hundred yards from the lake!
My love affair with you reignited instantly and in these subsequent 25 years, I’ve run at least several thousand miles around your shores, at all times of day and night, and in every season. I’ve run with friends and congregants, and run alone. I’ve run with music and in silence. I’ve run in snow and oppressive heat. Every season. Every occasion. You’ve been there for me. Thank you!
Mostly though, I’ve run alone. Well, not alone really. I’ve run early in the morning, before work, after a little time of reading, stretching, prayer. You’ve been the context where so many things have become clear. I don’t know if it’s the rhythm of the running, the beauty of the sunrise, the sounds of the bird, the scent of the blossoms, the fecundity of the fallen leaves, or the lake itself, but you’ve been the place where ideas have germinated, conversations initiated, confessions made, next steps determined. It’s not a stretch at all for me to say that God spoke during those morning runs, profoundly, too many times to number. I believe it’s because you, Green Lake, represent the beauty of creation, in a world increasingly threatened by our human lust for more. You represent consistency in a city that I’ve lived in long enough to mourn countless changes. And what’s more, you don’t just represent beauty in a world marred by the ugliness of oppression, loneliness, and disease. You are beauty. I know you’re facing your own challenges. I know you’re threatened often, and neglected, even abused at times. But there you are, reminding me of so much that I love about Seattle, and setting a table for me to meet with God. Thank you!
In the past I’d run around you three times in preparation for a big race, like the Bloomsday thing in Spokane, or the Torchlight Run in the summer across the soon to be departing beloved viaduct (may it rest in peace). Then two became my max. Now it’s one lap, with a little extra distance tossed in around the playfields and tennis courts. No matter. The pace per mile has changed. The city has changed. I’ve changed. But the thing that hasn’t changed is that when I put one foot in front of the other in the midst of your divine beauty, I hear God’s voice. So I’ll keep coming back, as long as I’m privileged to live and serve this city I love, until my running becomes walking, becomes sitting. Thank you for being my cathedral, sanctuary, and resting place.
Our city is filled with more challenges and opportunities than I can ever remember. And this, too, is why I’ll keep coming back to listen for the Voice of guidance, hope, vision, encouragement, and correction that somehow seems clearer there, on most days, than nearly anywhere else, at least for me.
Merry Christmas Green Lake, and Happy New Year. May 2019 be a year of hearing God’s voice with greater clarity than ever as I run your shores, cherish your seasons, and absorb your beauty.