a bulwark never failing

Uncategorized Jul 21, 2021


After our summer cottage was inundated by a Lake Michigan tsunami, we arrived to find the lower level of the home a jumbled, muddy mess.  Flood waters had ruined everything… furniture, walls, bathrooms, bedrooms all had to be abandoned.  We were one of three cottages in our little community adversely affected.  So, while the following summer brought many expressions of sympathy and concern, there wasn’t any action taken.  Everyone talked about what had happened as an isolated, once-in-thirty years event.  Too bad for us.

But I wasn’t so sure.  I felt that our experience might just be the first, a “canary in the coal mine” moment.  Lake Michigan was rising.  It could be a cyclical pattern.  But it might be global warming.  One thing was clear to me—weird weather patterns and severe storms were becoming more frequent.  Sure enough, within a year another “once-in-thirty year” tsunami hit us again.  And the next fall, a storm on the lake caused a surge that destroyed or damaged other cottages.  Suddenly the community realized that we could also lose important infrastructure, sidewalks and beaches. In an emergency meeting held on-line in February 2020, the cottagers’ association approved a massive rock revetment project along the whole length of our community’s shoreline. 

One cottage had to be razed, and we’ve lost easy lake access.  We’ve also lost a few cottagers who found the expense of the project too big a pill to swallow.  However, my personal gratitude knows no bounds, primarily because I no longer feel that we are left by ourselves to handle it.

In a battle against water, water always wins.  We continue to carefully monitor what this huge inland sea just twenty feet from our door is doing; and we watch the current water table and move quite cautiously, as we consider our options to reclaim space once livable.  We ferret out the source of each and every leak.  But we are not alone. 

Our community built a wall of protection, yet I try to remember always that even more secure than that wall is our “mighty fortress” of a God… “a bulwark never failing.  A helper, He amid the flood…the right man on our side.”  Thank you, Martin Luther and translator Frederick H. Hedge (what an appropriate name!).  Sometimes the words of poets and theologians speak to our life experiences in ways that they couldn’t have imagined.

Love, Liz

“Things that were rare are now much more common, and this trend will continue.  Things that happened once in a lifetime will now happen many times during a lifetime.”

Michael Wehner, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory