Horseshoe Lake saved my soul

We in the Heights are grieving the possible loss of Horseshoe Lake. What can be measured, folded, and placed neatly in a box are environmental, stormwater management, and financial concerns. Quantifying what has served for years as a pillar of human spiritual sustenance is not so easy.

Since moving back to Shaker Heights, from Pittsburgh, 20-some years ago, Horseshoe Lake has served as my spiritual source—a place of indescribable respite, tranquility, and beauty. When I decided to address my alcoholism, Horseshoe Lake saved me. Teetering on the edge of spiritual death, I returned to Horseshoe Lake daily, filling up my cup—figuratively speaking—each visit, so that I could face one more day. Later, sober and with young daughters, I would walk to Horseshoe Lake, finding peace as a confused and harried working mom. Courage to go another day. This place helped me do that. Over and over, for two decades.

In my younger days, my deepest homesickness stemmed from missing Horseshoe Lake. When I returned to Shaker Heights to attend graduate school, Horseshoe Lake fed peace into my idealistic, yet still lost, searching soul.

The lake is gone—almost. Drained. Horseshoe Lake. I live less than two miles away, and I no longer go there. I can't. I stopped taking my children and family to the lake. I avoid driving and biking past it. It saved me, but it's gone. Almost. The loss assaults me every day, repeatedly, as happens in grief.

Perhaps that which sustains the human soul cannot be measured. Perhaps, though, this points to its enormity and far-reaching impact. Perhaps it’s the most important thing of all. Perhaps the city council members in Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights, and the people at the sewer district, have similar feelings, deep down, and will see the pressing need to keep Horseshoe Lake.

Julia Shefcheck

Married for 17 years, with two daughters, Julia Shefcheck works full time as a technical writer. She is a proud alumna of John Carroll University, for both undergraduate and graduate school.

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Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 11:00 AM, 10.29.2021