“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, what did I really see this day?”
We often forget that the space, the earth we are surrounded by influences our spirit. The space surrounding us can be spiritually nourishing for us. What you make space for matters as well. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and go to your favorite place on earth to feel connected to your natural self. Is it somewhere you visited as a child? How do you feel when you are in that space? When was the last time you made time to go there?
Amy Annis lights up when she begins to talk about Madeline Island. A place can tend to our spirit and help us feel more like ourselves. The Annis family has found a sacred space and made a commitment to return to it each summer. After honeymooning on Madeline Island, Ted and Amy began taking their children up there every few summers until they made the leap and bought a summer home there. These days, they pack up their home each June and relocate to the island for the summer months. Amy runs yoga retreats on the island during the summer and Ted has a profession that allows him to do work from the island. It has been a gift they have given to themselves and their children. In this glimpse of spirit, Madeline Island, the place itself is the gift, a way to reconnect and see more each day.
Amy says, “There is a Madeline Island within each of my children. At first we were a little concerned that they would miss out on travel sports teams each summer and local summer activities. Over time however, we realized that on the island they get recovery time. The island offers them and us, time to be outside, to slow down, to reconnect with each other and time to come home to us.”
“To pack our lives up and get on the ferry each June feels like a huge release and a deep breath. I feel a sense of peace there. There is no agenda. I simply find more calm there. I wake up and there are usually 3-4 teenagers in the house that don’t belong to me. They tend to roam in packs on the island. There are always extra children, 10 bikes and a few golf carts in our front yard. Ted may be making pancakes for everyone. My friend Christy teaches wonderful yoga classes on the island and I get to take yoga from her 3 times a week. During the school year, I teach a lot of yoga. Even on the island, I run yoga retreats. However, in those outdoor classes with my friend, I get to be a student and allow her voice to sink into my soul. It nourishes me. That time replenishes me.”
“When I found out I had breast cancer, life was turned upside down. We actually went up to Madeline Island immediately after my biopsy. There were so many well meaning, loving people around us but Ted and I needed to be like an island and come together. Just walking on the beach and feeding the ducks helped slow us down, regroup and get ready to begin that journey towards healing.”
“On the island, I am more in touch with the natural world around me. Each morning I ask, “what is the wind level?” Knowing that fact helps answer what side of the island will be safe for the kids to roam that day. Lake Superior is beautiful yet needs to be respected. The lake is as much a part of our summer as the island. It is clear, cold, sacred and beautiful. I love looking at the outcroppings of the rocks, kayaking into the sea caves and dragging my hand along moss growing in those caves. It feels ancient and is and one of my favorite ways to introduce my retreat attendees to the sacredness of this place.
“For millions of years, an ancient conversation has continued between the chorus of the ocean and the silence of the stone.”
“Leaving the island each August always brings a few tears but the structure and routine (as a Mom), brings me gratitude too. It is as if I am filled up again and excited to return home. By August, I am always a little ready for my roving band of kids to return to structure and just a little less freedom. As a yoga teacher, this change of scenery has the added bonus of helping me to never feeling burned out. I am always excited to come home and begin teaching again.”
Each summer as the family is leaving the island, they like to talk about their favorite “Madeline Moment”. Here are some responses from the Annis children: