It’s time to go home.
But Grace saw a movie at school on the Soo Locks. She wants to see them up close and personal. And go through them.
The scenery assaults me.
We’ve come from peaceful and pristine to chaos and clutter.
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan side.
A place of barges and docks and seaplanes and cement.
A sailboat tips horizontal to the water
I try to imagine what what this gateway from Lake Superior to Lake Huron looked like when the rapids swirled and the water fell and the river flowed wild.
Before it became a bustling “seaport.” Before the area became the world’s busiest canal in terms of tonnage–handling recreational boats, ocean-bound “salties” and 1000-foot “lakers.”
How will we find God here?
Grace glues herself to the front railing and squeals as we are locked and Lake Superior pours in at 1-1/2 million gallons a minute, raising us to its level.
The gates open, and we pass, following larger boats.
We cruise under the International Bridge that connects the United States with Canada.
Ahead of us is a Canadian steel mill.
Our boat floats through, perhaps in the same place boats come to load and unload.
Steam rises behind piles of white limestone, black coal, and red taconite where seagulls find a resting place.
A bulldozer swings overhead, dips and scoops, returns to dump taconite into a railroad car that will carry it into the bowels of the mill.
We wrinkle our noses at the “fragrance.”
“Do you see God anywhere?” I whisper to Grace.
“There,” she says. “In that flame.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because Jesus is the flame in my heart.”
I think of a flaming bush and a flame that led through the wilderness.
I think of purifying fire and melted hearts and slag separated in the process of life smelting.
I think of the 4500 people employed somewhere in this plant (we only see one) and wonder how many of their hearts burn with His flame.
I think of the heat they must suffer as they work and yet how grateful they must be to bring home a paycheck to their families.
I think of the sailors who are gone from home for days (months?) on end and the dangers they face on the open water.
I think of roads and buildings and appliances and car bodies and how my life would be different without places like this.
I think of things like creativity and wisdom and imagination and perseverence.
And as we gaze at the flame, we see the outline of a cross.
We return through the Canadian lock, drop back down to the level of the St. Mary’s River.
We marvel at a beautiful lush park on the river’s edge.
And as we near the end of our journey, the guide points out a towering cross. It stands 120 feet–the tallest in the Western Hemisphere–erected to commemorate another cross placed there 300 years ago.
I try to snap a picture, but my battery dies.
And I must carry the sight of that cross in my heart along with the ever-present flame.
We’ve found God here, too.
We turn our hearts toward home.
You might also enjoy this article: Locking Through the Soo
June 6, 2012: Shared with Prodigal Magazine’s Travel Stories.