Every summer we head to Lake Almanor for a “family trip.”
My parents have a modest 3 bedroom house on the peninsula, and they open it up to us to ransack — with all our shoes, fingerprints, toys, and boisterous energy.
We spend our days waking up slowly, kayaking along the water’s edge, tubing behind Pop’s boat, swinging golf clubs, shooting, casting crickets from rocking docks, hiking to waterfalls, assembling puzzles, imbibing daily milkshakes, and searching for satellites in the starry sky.
It has become one of my favorite memories of these short years with our children.
While we’re there, I take long walks in the pine trees. I look at squirrels and deer and cobwebs between the needles. I listen to sounds I haven’t heard in a long time. Their house, with no wifi, protects all of us from the outside events that have been so disheartening and tragic of late. I’m insulated, there with my parents, and my husband, and these children who keep me grounded, and I have obscene amounts of time to reflect.
It is all going by so fast.
Now I don’t want you to think it’s cheery and wonderful at all times. There is, of course, always sibling bickering. There are still children needing mom and dad, making less than mediocre choices, sometimes out of stupidity and sometimes with full intention. There are times Bookguy drives me nuts. We lose wallets, our backs have spasms, lightening strikes a few miles away causing fires, we say things we don’t mean.
But some of those outside pressures that are normally there, like bills and school calendars and email and dentist appointments, are not. And suddenly I get all my senses back. I start to see things I wouldn’t normally see, if I were in the haze of it all back in the OC. I start to hear things I wouldn’t hear, if I was back at home, running on the Wheel that is my every day.
This is the still small voice …
One of those moments I stood on a large rock overlooking the lake while a storm rolled past. Big drops of rain fell on my head, and the whistling of the wind was so powerful, I could barely keep my balance. But I managed to snap this picture.
Over the water is the storm, dumping rain on the drought-inflicted California mountains. Thunder roared and lightening cracked, and I stood there, a witness to such power. So many big things suddenly seemed so very small.
Chasing the storm was the sunshine. This golden hope following after hard times.
I felt a gentle nudge from the Creator, a reminder that behind all our storms, something good will come. How the rain, dark and gloomy, was sent as none other than a gift, to nourish and fill what is dry and desperate in this Golden State. That I could feel the force of something completely outside of my control, reminding me I am not orchestrating any of these days — He is.
And in the clearing, there was the light.
The light shines in the darkness.
Half the lake, choppy, wind-blown, bleak, and the other half, reflecting something glorious on the horizon. Sometimes that’s how things are —
joy with pain,
suffering with hope,
hard, but good,
mystery with peace.
I don’t know I would have seen it had I not been looking.
As I re-enter and real-life begins — while I take them shoe shopping this am, and as I start lugging one child to soccer and the other to football and another to karate, and I’m ordering books and school supplies, and dumping laundry into baskets to fold for later, and editing this new book for this stellar author, and working on an article for another publication, I’m wondering — How do I keep looking? How do I make room to see these sorts of ‘presents’ He sends my way?
I don’t want to miss it. It goes by so fast.