At Lake Erie blessing ceremony, group
honors its spirit and energy
By Molly Kavanaugh
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Published August 29, 2005
Mentor- Over the roar of the breaking waves, Jane Copper
told the men and women holding hands in a circle on the
beach about her childhood attraction to the Great Lakes.
The 5-year-old girl was running away from home, to Lake
Michigan a block away. She left wearing an inner tube
around her waist. "I'm going to the lake to float
the rest of my life," the child announced.
The 59-year-old Copper now teaches others how to float
and access the healing powers of water through her job
as an aquatic director in Bainbridge.
"It's my mission," she said.
Copper's story was just one of many shared Sunday morning
at Headlands Beach State Park, the second Lake Erie blessing
ceremony to be held this summer at the Mentor park. About
35 people attended the informal event, most of them devotees
of Reiki, a Japanese spiritual healing technique, or another
form of alternative medicine.
Some arrived in bathing suits for an aquatic stretch,
splash and swim. Carol Spears sat on a blanket with a
crystal bowl and tapped the sides with a leather wand.
A chiming sound flowed over the sand.
Bobi Surmick serenaded the group with an American Indian
"Church has its place, but God is everywhere,"
Surmick said afterward.
Medical intuitive counselor Sarah Weiss of Newbury is
the force behind this gathering. Five years ago, Weiss
traveled to Peru and was inspired by a ceremony honoring
the energy of the Pacific Ocean.
Weiss returned to Northeast Ohio and started bringing
small groups to the lakefront. This summer she decided
to put the word out via the Internet to see if others
would be interested in celebrating the spirit of the lake
and water in general.
More than 80 people showed up in July. Some arrived by
Sunday's gathering was smaller because other sites have
since been added.
People also met yesterday at the Lorain lakefront, and
two other water spots: Brandywine Falls in the Cuyahoga
Valley National Park and Mill Creek in Mahoning County.
"I've always loved the water," said Mary Ann
Chambers, her clothes wet after dipping a Madonna-shaped
carafe into the lake and filling it with water. The 63-year-old
woman from Russell Township said the ceremony is a reminder
to interact with the outdoors.
"We've forgotten that nature is always there,"
Scott Plate said a running injury forced him to turn
to swimming for exercise. He first attacked the water
with force and fury, then learned to relax his strokes
and let the water carry him.
"I love it. I can't now not swim," the 43-year-old
Cleveland actor said.
Given the response, Weiss plans to make the gathering
a monthly event. "My hope is everyone around the
Great Lakes does this," she said.
The ripple effect will soon begin. Surmick, who sang
the Indian hymn, heads to Chicago this week, the first
stop on a 10-month journey in a camper. She plans to hold
a ceremony at a Lake Michigan beach when she arrives.
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