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The Misty Morning

What a dramatic start to the day; low fog hugged everything. Looking at the hill country across Lake Leelanau from our home, the hills and tree-tops were shrouded in it. We love days like this, since they’re indicative of change: cooler weather giving way to warmer air moving up from the south. This annual act of release produces some wonderfully dramatic scenes in and around our pine forests and over the abundant water that seems to surround us up here. Heading on in to work alone today was nothing short of awe-inspiring, driving past those fog-blanketed lakes and hillsides. Shannon, lucky girl, is already at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for a conference; she left with the boys yesterday, so no cute little lads to take to school (I'll at least be able to join them on the island tomorrow).

While heading in to work on this this quiet morning, I stopped by the Traverse City Post Office on Union St. to drop off some mail. Being only a couple of blocks from the still-cooler waters of West Grand Traverse Bay, even that old building was enveloped in a wet, misty fog. As I neared the building, I could make out two elderly veterans seated alone near the flag pole just outside the main entrance, collecting donations for the American Legion. We recognized each other; they were members of the local honor guard who preside over the funeral services of local, fallen veterans; we exchanged pleasant greetings. I made my donation and prepared to move on – but not before rendering them a nice, crisp salute.

Three veterans, quietly saluting each other on a deserted sidewalk, in a light fog, on an early-but-misty Northern Michigan morning. As I thanked them for their service, one of the two slowly dropped his salute to say, “And, thank you for yours, sir”, handing me a little red poppy; a small token of thanks (look up WWII red poppies sometime for some powerful insight into that tradition). As I slowly turned to walk away, carefully holding that little flower, I couldn’t help but wonder what foggy fronts these men of character had served on: the beaches of Normandy, perhaps? I thanked God for these seemingly small-but-profound encounters not at all uncommon up here; we just need to open our eyes to better see them for what they really are.

Antoine de Saint Exupery, the famous WWII French fighter pilot and author of that wonderful book, “The Little Prince”, has the wise Fox in this story making a statement to the Little Prince to the effect: “What is essential is hidden from our eyes, On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur(...it is only with the heart that one can see rightly).

Oh, that we would all take a bit more time to slow down, and learn to see more rightly with our own hearts as we encounter opportunities to extend kindness to the lives of others. After this morning’s encounter, I feel like I was the one who was blessed and inspired more by those great men (one of whom I knew to be the American Legion’s local chaplain). Seems we shouldn’t even need such reminders here in Northern Michigan, surrounded by so much natural beauty. Alas, I can't think of anything more apropos than a misty, fog-shrouded  Northern Michigan morning to serve as that catalyst to help improve one’s true ‘vision’.