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Feature Article

THE KEY

by

Loretta Day

I remember the first time I went sailing.  It was a flawless summer day.  We lived outside a small town just 20 minutes from Indiana Dunes, now a National Park, on the southern shores of Lake Michigan.  Known for being one of the five largest freshwater lakes in the world, local families considered it a special place to enjoy fishing, water skiing, swimming or a casual sail.  On this particular day, a handsome young man I knew from church invited me to go sailing on it.  I was beyond excited.

 

When we arrived, the soft sand and aquamarine water was perfect.  Just like the day itself.  The Sunfish, securely strapped to the top of his father’s car, was a single, flat board of a boat with a simple stick, rudder, and sail.  Undoing the straps and lifting it off the car, he stacked everything needed atop the board and we wadded into the lake together.  

 

While he skillfully assembled the Sunfish, I noticed the temperature of the water matched that of the breeze as I stood in the water to my waist, confident and eager to begin.  As soon as he helped me aboard, the breeze filled the sail and we began to fly across the water.  I can still see the water racing by and hear the sound of the board cutting a smooth path across the lake’s rippled surface.  The day came alive.  The colors became more vibrant and all my senses alert.  Yet I felt strangely at home.  I sensed this was the first step of many into the unknown.

 

​We sailed out and away from the shore, the wind in our faces.  As the wind grew stronger, the small boat heeled over and picked up speed.  We leaned outward and held on tight.  In the distance, the beach looked very small and far away. The next thing I knew, we were changing direction and the wind was at our backs.  It felt effortless to glide with no sensation of movement.  No path ahead or behind us. There was only beautiful blue water in every direction sparkling in the sun.  Time melted away as we continued to sail, my heart filled with joy and gratitude.  

 

After a while, we returned to the shallows.  It was time for us to get out of the water and head home.  The Sunfish was easily dismantled and secured to the roof of the car. It was at that moment the young captain realized the car key was no longer in his pocket.  He searched the beach and the parking lot for it, not once but many times, but the key was lost. He had no spare, no cell phone, and there was no one else around to offer assistance.  We were stranded.

 

Emboldened by the day, I felt a sense of confidence as I looked him in the eye and said, “Let me see if I can find the key in the lake.”  Slowly and mindfully, I walked into the water.  I asked my intuition to guide me to the perfect spot. Once I found myself waist deep, I paused and looked down at my feet.  There, just in front of my right foot, was the key in clear view on the sandy bottom.  I was speechless.  I slowly lowered myself into the water to reach it, silently offering a prayer of gratitude to the lake, to the sand, to the wind, sun and sky for their love and support.  As I stood up, I turned around smiling, triumphantly holding the key high!

 

Taking it all in, the young man held the top of his head, his eyebrows raised in disbelief before he doubled over in joyous laughter.  It’s taken all these years for me to realize it, but in that moment, I found so much more than the key to a car.

© Lucia Artz Studio LLC

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Loretta Day

You can reach her at lorettah101@gmail.com

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