Dawn over Wooster Lake offers not only a profound silence, but also the beauty of nature

by Deacon Mark Plaiss

Northwest Indiana Catholic Columnist


      I can see the entirety of Wooster Lake while standing at its shore. It’s not the great North Woods, but it will do for now.

      The water is still. Well, it was until a fish jumps to the south of where I am standing, and now the ripples. The sun splashes onto the water making the water blue. The cloudless sky is cobalt. There’s frost this morning. Nearly a full moon guards the western sky, and I’m betting it will melt into the approaching bright sky before it will set.

      The stand of maple trees behind me to the west are still in full leaf, but are now more yellow than green. The oaks down the way flush a deep red.

      My cheeks burn from the cold, but I don’t mind. It’s good for a person to feel fall. Besides, my hat and gloves keep me warm enough.

      Deep inhale. Yeah, it’s fall. Somebody is burning wood in their fireplace and its fragrance accentuates the fall-ness of the day. There’s no season better. None. Everybody speaks of fall as the end, what with nature falling dormant and all. Bah! Nature starts over in fall. My wife tells me I think that way because of all those years of school when school started in the fall. Perhaps. I do know this, though: summer is over rated.

      Wooster Lake is in Fox Lake, Ill. I think. Actually, I have no clue as to how far Fox Lake or Ingleside or Volo extend or retract. I like living here, though. The people are friendly. On my morning walks, fellow walkers greet me, and I them.

      For the most part it’s quiet, here. Still, when I step out onto my patio at three a.m., I can still hear traffic on nearby Hwy. 12. I’m not fond of that, but, as I said, it will do for now. Besides, Chain O’ Lakes State Park is just up the road, and I can retreat there for some silence. The older I grow, the more important silence is to me.

      The Metra train blasts its horn. The workforce is being delivered to that city to the southeast. The return trip for that workforce will be in darkness.

       The water, the chill, the moon, the sky, the smell all point to one destination: the great North Woods. Someday I hope to get lost there, and stay that way.

      I am neither an off-gridder, nor a luddite. I am simply a man who wants a place where I can pray, write, read and think in peace - a place where silence is the norm; nota place where silence is the exception, but rather a place that I do not have to run to, but a place where I am already at.

      Silence, however, is not enough. If silence were all I needed, I could live in that city to the southeast, barricade myself in an apartment and be done with it. No, I also need trees and grass and hills and valleys and streams and lakes and birds and moon and stars and roads less travelled. Where I’m at right now provides some of that, but I want a total immersion.


      Watch for part two of Deacon Plaiss’ reflection in next week’s edition of the Northwest Indiana Catholic. Deacon Mark Plaiss teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .