I did not grow up in a wealthy family. Still, my mom and her four sisters pooled their money and bought a house on a lake in the early 1950's. (The picture above is of that lake.)
It was in New Jersey, about a two hour drive from our home in Staten Island, N.Y. Every year, a few days after school was finished in June, our grandmother, Nonnon, and all five aunts and all nine of my cousins would pack our stuff, get in a few cars, and have a caravan drive to "The Lake."
For the two hour trip... we would pack lunch, and stop on our way to eat it. Because.. really... you can't go without eating something for a whole two hours... right? To be honest, all year long we all waited to "go up the Lake." (We didn't go TO the Lake. We went UP the Lake. Why did we go UP instead of TO? I don't know why)
When we got to The Lake we just unpacked our stuff and lived. We didn't have anything more planned than being there and being together. Everyone had an assigned bed, and assigned bedroom. And that was that. And we just lived every day. All the aunts (referred to as "The Mothers" by all the cousins) Nonnon and cousins together. We swam. We jumped off the wooden rafts that were floating in the water. We got along (most of the time.) We were family. And we were just happy to be together and "up the Lake."
Somehow we all ate three meals a day. I vaguely remember some of "The Mothers" going to town to buy groceries every now and then... but it was a side event for me. I never worried about being taken care of. I just lived without a care. Swimming in the lake, having fun with my cousins was all I cared about.
Every weekend, "The Uncles" arrived. And every Sunday night The Uncles went back to the city to work. And then we just lived another week at The Lake. No one made big plans. Sometimes, if The Mothers allowed, we walked to the local gas station to buy soda, or candy. We walked to the bakery nearby to buy sweet rolls. We jumped in the water. We played in the sand. We didn't do anything but just be at The Lake. And be together. It was the way life was meant to be. No pressure. Nothing but simple joys.
I realize now, as do my cousins, that we all lived an idyllic childhood.
The reason this life of joy and love and happiness was made available to me and my cousins is the foundation of deep, deep love between my mother, her sisters and our grandmother, Nonnon. This LOVE covered us all like a blanket of security. It was LOVE that kept them together. It was LOVE that kept us together. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
And we knew that the foundation of THAT LOVE was JESUS. We all knew that loving Jesus, thanking Jesus, praising Jesus was the foundation of being alive. Nonnon was a woman of prayer.
We heard her praying in her room.
She was never on vacation from prayer.
IF there were moments when some of us did not get along (and of course there were) there was NEVER a moment when Nonnon would ACCEPT division in the family.
We were never allowed to let division become permanent. Nonnon would not allow it.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned from my years of going UP the Lake is that:
Unity begins in a family.
Love is modeled in a family.
OK... So what? Good for you, Marie, and your family.
In our family - we did not SEPARATE when we did not agree. It wasn't even considered. We accepted that telling the truth to one another was not always something that brought harmony... but it never divided us. Not while Nonnon lived. We worked it out. We talked it out. Sometimes we continued to not agree, but we never continued to not love. I am perplexed by people whose hatred has blinded them so much that they feel justified in walking away forever from a family member.
IN God's Family.. the same is true.
I must admit, that in some ways, the family I grew up with left me naive about being in the Family of God. I have been perplexed when people who name the name of Jesus separate from one another over a disagreement or a disappointment or a difference of any kind. I am not used to someone in a family simply walking away because they don't like what you did.. or what you did isn't what they wanted you to do. Families never separate. No one ever cuts off ties with another family member. Only God can help anyone who separates God's Family.
Someday.. every child of God will be "Up The Lake"... together with every other believer. Eternity is simply a new heaven, a new earth with new bodies that never decay. And we will all be Up The Lake together forever.
I must have an odd way of looking at things when you look at them through the words in Scripture.. but.. isn't it ridiculous to think that we can hate another believer down here, but not UP there. We are ONE family.
IF WE WANT UNITY IN OUR NATION..
WE MUST FIRST HAVE IT IN THE CHURCH.
I wonder if God wonders how we think we can be together forever but separated here?
1 John 2:9-11:
"Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.
But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness.
They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them."