Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Northern Exposure

Nothing feels better than getting away from the daily grind. There is much work and planning to be had in going away for a weekend, but it is so worth it. I only wish it lasted longer than 2 short days(*sigh*). We just got home from being 'up north', as we Minnesotans like to call it. My husbands' family has a cabin on a lake, about 3-1/2 hours away. We look forward to the trip each fall, taking in the transformation of the leaves, each tree a little different from the next. It is truly beautiful. I think the air is therapeutic in that you feel so relaxed--and sleepy--while you are there.

The guys love to fish and get out on the water. For some reason, time ceases to exist when you step in to a boat. It's like sailing into another dimension or something. What? It's been six hours and you've already eaten supper? That used to be how it was, before our kids stepped in to the picture. Troy has reluctantly given up some of his 'casting time' so he can teach Adrian the rhythms of fishing. I think he's glad our son is also intrigued with the sport. I can see that the two of them will be good fishin' buddies someday. We've also added in other fun things that the kids like: gator rides through the '100 acre woods', flashlight walks at night, playing hide n seek--jumping out and scaring each other! Lots of fun.

The experience of being up north has changed for me as well, now having kids to care for. When I would arrive at the cabin, years ago, I remember finding my spot on the couch and passing out for several hours, catching up on my sleep. I used to work, full-time, at an office that supplied plant material to contractors. We worked long hours during the spring season. It was a fast-paced job, to say the least. I was tired--and the air up there put me into a temporary coma of sorts. This weekend, I felt like I was walking around in a daze. It's hard to get that nap, now that we have little people running around. And then you stay up late, sitting around the campfire, letting the flames mesmerize you. It's interesting to hear what people will end up talking about, when you sit around that fire long enough. 

I went shopping with the girls at the infamous L&M Supply. They have everything there--yes, even clothes, shoes, and toys for kids. We had fun, walking around the store for an hour or so. Eventually, I found myself near the check-out, looking at bags of old-fashioned candies. My ears took notice of a hilarious conversation of old men, standing next to me. It was like a scene out of a movie: four middle-age guys in fishing hats, away for the weekend, without their wives. And what are they doing for fun? They are loading up on candy, drinking their coffee, talking trash to each other. It was so funny. One of the guys was a diabetic and he was the one holding about 5 bags of candy, muttering that he really didn't need any of it. The other guys prodded him on, informing me that they were on his life insurance policy so they wanted him to eat the candy--lots of it! I couldn't help but laugh, as I felt my face turning color. I could totally see my dad, in this bunch. You know, walking around a store, talking to people like they were your next friend in life. If only we all lived like that. 

I brought a book along that I would eventually finish, while away. There were just a few chapters left, so I figured it would be easy to get through it. While I could hardly put the book down, it was like having 'heart surgery', in a manner of speaking. Being away from the routine of life, with all this beauty surrounding me, I felt like I was in a place where change could, and did, take place. Do you ever have those moments when you realize that what you've always thought was true, simply was not so? Or maybe there is some truth to your ideals, but then you realize how judgmental and wrong your attitude has been towards other people...people who are different, but loved by God, just as much as you or me is. It was painful. I felt helpless to do anything about it. I saw my reflection--and it wasn't pretty; unlike the mirror image of the trees against the smooth surface of the calm waters. No, mine was rather ugly. My heart was answering back to me, begging for removal of this part of me that was no longer needed.

While we were at the cabin, the guys(and some of the girls, maybe) pulled this huge log out of the bay. It had been there for years, so I had been told. Apparently, wood doesn't go bad when it's under water like that. It was valuable for something; maybe they would take it back to a relative who does wood-working for a living and see what he could do with it. This log, free from the bark that once clothed it, now looked more like a short telephone pole. It had been in the bay for as long as Troy's Aunt and Uncle had the cabin...which would be a few decades...maybe even longer. It just happened to be in the right position this time, to get it out of the way. I think it was discovered under the dock when they pulled it out. 

On the drive home, I continued to think about what was happening to me, on the inside. Troy was my captive audience, which is the way it is when he is at the wheel. No where to go, except home--so he was my sounding board. I don't think he actually minds much. So long as I keep on topic and get to the point. I was sharing my thoughts on what I had read, how it was affecting me, and what now. We talked about the people in our lives, what we admired about them, how some times we do things differently, and how we fit in, somewhere, in all of that. We enjoy our drive times. It is very productive in that we get in to each others' heads and can gain more perspective that way. We agreed that we need to drive more often. Not really having anywhere to go, but just the distraction of driving helps our conversation along. 

I think what happened to me, this weekend, is that "the log" has finally been removed. I'm sure there will be more, along the way, but this was a big one. It was in the right place where it could now be taken out and evaluated. Some of my struggles: difficulty giving and receiving love, feeling unworthy, self-absorption. All of this, wrapped up inside a barricade, across the center of my heart. Only He can take this away and make something beautiful, in return. I love that being up north helps me feel closer to God. Maybe I'm too distracted, at home, to realize how much I need to spend time with Him. He has pursued me, but I have not returned His affections. Not really, unless there is something I want. Isn't that often how a person prays? I realize this may sound very strange...and it is. My only explanation is that my awareness of how wretched I can be, inwardly, also makes me aware of a love that is beyond human understanding. And that love is the only thing that will rescue me. 

On a lighter note, we made lots of memories this weekend. Adrian told his preschool teacher, earlier this week, that he was going up north--that he was going to sleep in the camper, and eat lots of different foods--LOL. All of this is true! We had jalapeno poppers--wrapped in bacon, mushrooms--wrapped in bacon, Alaskan salmon, northern pike, shrimp. It was a feeding frenzy and it was good. Samantha got car-sick, on our way up there. She doesn't like bumpy roads. Needless to say, her grape juice made it to the surface! Her poor dolly, who seems to need a bath regularly, ended up smelling like soured grapes all weekend long. Oh well. Nothing that the smell of a campfire won't cover over. No one cares how you smell when you're up north. Years ago, before there was electricity and water in place, all of us went several days without a shower. On the last day, before going home, we would wash our hair over the deck with heated water from a portable hot pad. Those were the days. I do like it better with modern conveniences, but there is just something about being away from all of that--you notice nature and not how you look. However, after 3 days without showering, you really do notice nature! LOL

Thank you, to Troy's family--immediate and extended--for sharing your cabin and this time with us. We love you all and look forward to the next time we're together.