I just returned from a wonderful get away to the Midwest...loving the chance to once again connect with the land of my birth, the place I went to college, and my mother's people. Though Mom has been gone for many years now, being with her three sisters is like having a part of her back. And there's just something about the Midwest that I love...the warm hospitality, the slightly different speech, the bit of mugginess in the air, the mosquitos (NOT!), the lush green trees, and the abundance of lakes. Minnesota is often called "The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes" and I don't think Wisconsin is far behind!
Every two years mom's family gathers for a long weekend in early August. Though we used to hop around the country a bit...Wisconsin, Washington, Colorado, Duluth (MN)...the last three reunions we settled into Bay Lake Camp in Minnesota. One of my cousins is a pastor of the church who owns the camp so we are always well taken care of by the camp cooks and staff. The camp actually encompasses a small island and we get ferried out there by pontoon boats...the boat of choice on many midwestern lakes! I wish I could tell you that this boat was our ferry, but that would be a bit of a stretch!
Our family reunions are relaxed...filled with lots of time at the lake, drinking coffee and visiting, munching on one of the many home made cookies, bars, and biscotti that roll in, eating in the dining hall, card games at the table, sing alongs with guitars, Uncle Bob doing his rendition of "Oly", a little shopping at a nearby resort, games like Kubb on the ball field, water volleyball, and this year...the 5K Runtilla on the mainland. What a fun event...a run/walk with people of all ages! It's the only race I've ever done where you could buy and gulp down a Bloody Mary before the race....I passed on that but hey, only in Minnesota!
My cousin's daughter, a recent UW Eau Claire grad and star basketball player, represented us well by winning her age bracket...way to go, Sarah!
Though we vary in personality and temperament and thoughts on politics...sometimes quite a bit!...we are held together by the love and faith that my grandparents, Hans Olaf and Christine, instilled in their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren...and now great, great grandchildren. The common bond and love we share is almost palpable...hard to explain if you haven't experienced it. When we break out into rich four part harmony on the table prayer, "Be Present at our Table Lord," we sense that their spirit and His spirit is present with us.
As evening comes and we head out to the sandbar for water volleyball, the sun sets in a wonder filled display of His glory...
And back at the lodge...three of my cousins, a sister and two brothers, who have sung together for years, sing together...
"Now the day is over, Night is drawing nigh; Shadows of the evening, Steal across the sky.
Jesus, give the weary, Calm and sweet repose, With thy tend'rest blessing, May my eyelids close.
When the morning wakens, Then may I arise, Pure and fresh and sinless, In Thy holy eyes."
The last morning, we gather for our final picture, knowing these days have been precious...a gift. One uncle and aunt are in their 90's now...as I said, a precious time. What a legacy of love we have inherited...and I am grateful.
Happy Friday, friends! Enjoy your weekend and go love on your families!