Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Railroad Maps and Rowboat Oars

I just got back from a couple of days of recreation and relaxation at a local lake with friends. (I am so spoiled!... I actually spent two whole days away from family and with about 15 my women friends, and even made some new ones!.) Ages 40-90 were represented in the group, and we certainly had a wonderful time. Some of the ladies stayed the whole designated time, some came for just a day, others just for a little while, and one was unable to attend because she was sick....

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....It was a wonderful time as we gathered to simply spend time together away from our normal "busy" and separate lives and with each other, and this in particular for the purpose of talking and sharing about God. For me, it was kinda like being with family, maybe like spending time with a bunch of sisters.

It was a lot of fun. We could go out on the lake in a canoe, kayak or raft, trampoline, relax in a hammock, go for walks, play games or drive to the nearby town or just visit with friends. We did a lot of visiting and eating of each other's cooking. I think I gained ten pounds! It was great to be able to spend some time with each and all of them and do some things together. I spent some of my time crocheting, which was fun for me and I took a lot of photographs as well. I like to take pictures too.

Some of the ladies went for a walk and came back telling of a garage sale they happened to descend upon and the many treasures they found within. Their adventure was a hoot! There were a couple of car trips to a nearby museum and store too. We also each painted T-shirts, (This is become a sort of tradition for this group to do on these weekends) which is a fun activity too. I like it because it brings out the creativity in each of us while we are all doing the same thing. We are women of all different ages, all different walks of life, and places in our walk with God. I found it quite remarkable to think that we had all been brought together for this time by God, and I loved being part of all he was doing, not only in others, but in me.

One of the things I go to do which I really enjoyed was a visit to a neighbors house, one that had a lot of history with the woman who owned the house where we stayed. I loved it because as she showed us her house it had so many history stories that went with each of the items she had chosen to decorate her house with. Many of them were antiques, each with a history all their own. As some of the ladies in our group were antiques too, seeing such things brought back memories of their own youth. I liked the fact that many of the items in this ladies home, had histories that were quite personal to her.

She told us their stories too as were gazed upon railroad maps and rowboat oars, remnants of her youth with friends and family at the lake. There was a claw footed tub bought from a hotel in Spokane where her mother used to work, in fact her mom used to work at the hotel, her job- to keep them clean. She thought of her mother often when she cleaned her own tub now.

In the Frog Room, there was a cabinet full of items which were once sunken treasures hidden in the lake, once lost items that her husband, who was a scuba diver, had one by one (or maybe two,) over may years of diving, had retrieved. I could not help but think of all the stories each item itself could possibly contain and that the room of a real live frogman had been so appropriately named.

The most intriguing item on the tour however, was three framed bathing suits she had upon the wall in the lakeside living room. One was a woman's suit and bathing cap, the other two were men's 1960 styled trunks. She told us that these had belonged to "Mom" and "Dad" and to a neighbor, she referred to formally as "Mr. ..." (a man whose last name I now forget.)

I imagine that at a lake you pretty much live in your bathing suit, at least in the summer months...swimming, splashing, fishing, boating, water skiing, rowing... scuba diving, and I imagine that a suit becomes very much a part of who you are, especially in the eyes of a child. But now growing up a\round lakes or water, I was struck with awe over how a bathing suit, of all things, would be such an identifier of who or what a person was.

I imagine that the swim suit was what these girls always saw these men who rescued them and kept them safe and told them stories and taught them things were always wearing at the lake. I imagine that it was a profound identifier for them. I am intrigued at how the people who wore these suits, now empty, had left more than the suits, behind; they left a legacy to these young girls, now women who obviously thought of "mom" and "dad" and Mr. ...." with high regard, fondness and love.

Many a season had come and gone at the lake. The people who wore these suits, once young and thin, had aged, and even died, but there at the lake where they had lived so much of their lives and touched the lives of so many people, their swim suits not only still hung up almost as if they were hung out on the line to dry as they had done year after year... but now they were framed.

I found this intriguing. I was most intrigued to discover that it wasn't her "dad" that she affectionately referred to, but to the father of our weekend hostess.

As we continued the tour, listening to stories, I gathered from all the conversation that this man called "dad" had been a kind and loving father figure for many people at the lake, and in this woman's life when she was young. She called him "dad" several times throughout the tour. He was my other friend's father, but he was no doubt a "dad" to her as well. I was moved in my spirit to consider that both of these women, not related biologically to one another, looked up to this man and called him "dad."

The weekend at the lakeside was a great time and I loved every minute of it. I did especially enjoy the house tour, but it was all special to me. Mostly I enjoyed the time spent with these women who in many ways' are more than friend, even like sisters in the Lord. It was perhaps a little like maybe what a happy family reunion would be like; no agenda-just time together.

As I think of the swim suits framed, I think it's an example of how Christians view the cross of Jesus Christ. It's empty... like the swim trunk, but there is no doubt, he left a legacy behind.
Those who knew Jesus as he lived his life on earth, knew him well. He was a man of unusual caliber, a man of a special kind. He was lake man, a fisher of men, one who stilled a raging storm at sea and even walked on water, some have said. The man Jesus, crucified on the cross, like the men who wore those suits hanging on the wall, will long be remembered, thought of and talked about for like them, He has no-doubt touched many people's lives.

It was fun to be with just women. It was kinda like we are sisters when we get together and it is Jesus, in some way or another, who had brought all of us women there, to the lake to be together.

It was Jesus, that I was thinking of at the lake with this group of Christian friends, relaxing.. playing games, sipping coffee, collecting tiny pebbles as I walked along the beach. I know that it's a special relationship Christian's have with Jesus, and that they subsequently share with one another. I think it's rather remarkable too, that as Christians who know Jesus and who fellowship in light of his teaching and in remembrance of His death on our behalf, we all call God, "Our Father, who art in heaven, but more importantly, we who love him, because he loves us and cares for us, can simply call him, "Dad."

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