Monday, August 15, 2011

Who is Diana of The Dunes? Why We Should Care?

Jeff of The Dunes

Diana of The Dunes
I like to get away from it all at the Indiana Dunes, but once upon a time, someone took it to extremes...

A woman dressed in a long, flowing, white gown is often seen at night, drifting through the pine trees at the top of a sand ridge or floating just aboive the surface of Lake Michigan at water's edge...
 A lone fisherman trolling along the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan spied a young, beautiful woman splashing naked through the waves.  After swimming, she danced like a nymph on the beach to dry off...
 (from Diana of the Dunes, The True Story of Alice Gray, Charleston, SC, The History Press, 2010)
Before the Streisand Effect, there was Diana of The Dunes.  In the year 1915, Alice Gray, a brilliant, educated lady, even by today's standards but especially 100 years ago, walked away from her education and career and attempted to live an isolated life along the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan.  This event was so unusual (scandalous?) that Chicago newspaper reporters, curiousity seekers, and local residents made this real person into an early 20th century pop icon (before the days of pop icons).

Why did she do it?  Peeling away the legend to find the facts, the conclusion drawn by Janet Zenke Edwards in her book Diana of the Dunes The True Story of Alice Gray is twofold:  (1) career opportunities available women, even brilliant women, in the early 1900s were limiting and she felt unable to reach her potential, (2) equally limiting in that era was the relationship with her beau, known only today as "L".  In my paraphrase, she couldn't find fulfillment as part of the pre World War I establishment.

We could say that freedoms and opportunities available to women today, a century later, would have liberated her.  Maybe not.  Doesn't it appear as if both women and men still struggle with finding satisfaction from careers and relationships?  Do we still want to "get away from it all?"

Alice / Diana and I share similarities in that we both find peace in the special place that is the Indiana Dunes.  The unique dune structures, the magnificent strength of Lake Michigan, the biodiversity of plant and animal life rivalled in the U.S. only by a few National Parks.  Indiana Dunes is my "happy place," a refuge from the stressful everyday world, and I'm sure you have yours.

We all need to remember that professions, people, and places ultimately do not satisfy on their own.  When seen as gifts from God to help us enjoy God, only then can they fulfill, and then only as much as we let God fulfill us and satisfy us.

God allows us to do that by giving us His Son to trust in and follow.  That truth is where peace in the midst of life is found.

17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. 18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity . . . 24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? —Ecclesiastes 2:17-19, 24-25

P.S.  This is not a "free book if you read and review it post."  I received no compensation or free book, but with my own money, I bought the book over vacation, read it, and was impacted by this unusual story.


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