This past summer we returned to one of our favorite vacation spots for a family getaway, a small lake in the Adirondacks mountains of New York. We have rented a cabin for a week at a camp located along the shores of this serene lake ever since our children were very young. It is so very peaceful there as the lake is too small for power boats, but the perfect size to explore by paddling along in a canoe or kayak.
Our family has created many beautiful, cherished memories there over the years and our children have always eagerly anticipated our yearly Adirondack vacation. It was especially nice to have our oldest daughter’s family, with our two grandsons join us this year. While some of the family members could only stay for part of the week, we continue to cherish the time we do have together to create new memories.
There is something reinvigorating about getting away from the busyness of daily life to a place of quiet beauty. To me, it is like being on retreat. In the quiet stillness it becomes easy to step away from life’s cares and busyness and feel the presence of our Creator. The evidence is all around you. If you have never had the opportunity to experience the peace and solitude of a mountain lake or a similar setting, I would encourage you to seek this out for your family. Even if you are not the adventuresome type, you might be surprised to discover how God’s presence is so close when you are immersed in the beauty of His creation.
This year at the lake, I also discovered an additional surprise as we uncovered some buried treasure!
As I mentioned, our family has been visiting this same camp for many years. In 1995 we buried our first “time capsule,” which consisted of a glass pickle jar filled with notes, drawings and letters written by each family member. We decided that we would bury this on the small island in the middle of the lake and uncover it ten years later. When we dug up the time capsule in 2005, we thoroughly enjoyed reading the thoughts expressed in those notes and reflected on how everyone had grown in the past ten years. So we again filled the jar with letters and reburied it that year. Of course, me being an engineer, I drew a precise map showing the exact location of our treasure.
When our 2015 vacation came, we found that there was not a good time when all of the family was together on a single day, so we decided to let the time capsule sit for another year. So this year we all, including the grandkids, piled into canoes and kayaks one sunny day to row out to the island, filled with eager anticipation to see if our buried treasure was still intact, or if it had been disturbed at all. With trusty map in hand, and after some hard digging, we uncovered the buried treasure capsule. Our four- and two-year-old grandsons were thrilled and we all returned to the cabin eager to see what we had written eleven years ago.
Back at the cabin we took turns reading aloud our letters around the dinner table. Some of the notes recalled funny incidents which had occurred at the lake in the previous years. We read about the time when Shannon caught a small sunfish as we were all standing on the dock, only to be shocked to see a snapping turtle promptly lunge out to gobble up her prize catch! That sent her and the other girls scurrying in fright back up the hill to the safety of the cabin. Or when I was first trying to teach five-year-old Peter how to fish and his first effort of casting from the dock resulted in the whole pole and line being tossed into the water and sinking to the bottom of the lake, where it probably still rests. We shared many laughs and joys as we reflected back to where we all were in our lives at that time. Many of the letters also expressed how grateful we were to be able to spend this time together as family each year in such a peaceful setting, experiencing the beauty of God’s creation.
When it came time for me to read my letters, I was surprised to find that I had actually included a letter written to our grandchildren. I had completely forgotten about that! At that time none of our children were even contemplating marriage, so I guess I was anticipating that perhaps in ten years Mary Jo and I might be blessed with a grandchild or two. But that was far from certain. To say that I found it rather emotional to be able to read the words I had written eleven years earlier to our two grandsons would be a vast understatement.
Reading that letter reminded me again of where our true treasure lies. It is in the love we share as a family and in the many blessings which our merciful God has seen fit to bestow on us.
As our family continues to grow (we have recently been blessed with a third grandson), I pray that God will grant us the time and opportunity to create many more shared experiences of his love to store up in our family treasure chest. May we, like his Blessed Mother, hold these treasures and ponder them deep in our hearts.