Love Affair With A Lake
by Phil Lehmann, Waterfront Staff
Let’s face it, Lake Winnipesaukee is the best place on earth and there is nothing you can do to convince me otherwise. Sure, archery is fun and I guess horses are ok, but we (I) all know where the best activities are at camp.
As a camper I fell in love with sailing, SCUBA diving, and wakeboarding. As a counselor I was blessed to be able to teach swimming and most of the other waterfront activities at some point. However, once I joined waterfront staff, my relationship with the lake changed—no longer was it simply the place where I got to teach and do activities. The lake became a grounding place for me. A place where I have most clearly heard God’s call to me and the place where I go at my lowest.
Those who have been on staff know the Diving Pier after dark is a place for hanging out and chatting with friends (before curfew of course!). It is also one of my favorite nighttime haunts, but for the opposite reason. I go to the diving pier to stand alone and stare out across the still waters towards Rattlesnake Island. The wind quiets and I find one of the oft mentioned “thin places” in which God seems most accessible. It is in these moments that I have felt the irresistible urge to pray about anything and everything. Eventually, the moment passes and I head to the Lake Cottage or stand to watch Coach Crowers come back into the cove in his dory, racing the last light to shore. I have had similar “God moments” in life and in some truly random places (e.g. Amsterdam’s train station at 3am), but none of these places possess the raw power of the water.
I was, and am still to a degree, a Midwest boy, unlearned in the power of the ocean, so the waves on Winnipesaukee seemed large to me as a child. After seven years on waterfront staff, I realize that the waves on Winni may not be the biggest, but they are my favorite. Former staffers will know that most of my favorite things on the waterfront involve unruly water (waterskiing aside). From going on “rescue missions” that test our expertise in righting sailboats, or towing a boat into shore, or to standing on the diving pier watching a big storm march across the lake, slowly obscuring the islands one by one, or to occasionally taking the opportunity for a farcical photo shoot with Cody O’Loughlin, it is these moments where the raw power of nature grounds me to the place God has called me. Where the outside worries of a career and “real life” are quiet and I am able to simply do the job I love, in the place I love, for the people I love. The lake is more than water in a hole, it is the place where God finds me, smacks me on the head, and says “I’m bigger, let’s have a chat.”
Phil Lehmann has been on staff since 2008 and has served as the Waterfront Director for the last 4 years. He enjoys early morning skiing, leaving lunch early to take a nap in his hammock, and drinking coffee out of a battered enamel mug. Contact him at Philip.G.Lehmann@Gmail.com