As I write this, I am sitting on the deck of a rustic cabin that has been a refuge for our family for 70 years. I notice the lake is the same. The mountain range has never altered, although the cabin itself has evolved through the years to meet the needs of the 5 generations blessed by its peace and beauty.
So this 4th of July weekend, as members of our family gathered, some of us were together while others couldn’t make it. We were in the final preparations for my daughter’s wedding later in July, and we were celebrating with my nephew who enlists in the Navy in a few days. In the midst of planning, celebrating and missing those not with us, we were conscious that life was changing. Some chapters were closing while others were just beginning, and I was struck by this stark reality…
Life is fluid. It ebbs and flows. Some things stay the same while other aspects are rearranged and presented in new ways. Life evolves, generations change; one generation moves on while another emerges sweetly in our life. One generation has built the foundation of who we are in such a way that a “goodbye” cannot alter their impact on our life, while the newest members of our family capture our hearts in such a way we cannot imagine how we were ever full without them. The family unit expands, contracts and yet, somehow, the bonds and traditions that define us are strong enough and creative enough to not only allow for this flux but flourish in its wake, opening us up to new blessings.
I realized this paradox also holds true for our community. We treasure who we are, we value where we’ve been and we celebrate our history and our past. And yet, we can’t stay there…that is not all that defines us. There is sweetness, joy and value in the present…the trick is to recognize it.
It’s tempting to wish time stand still. To focus our energies on the vision in the rearview mirror. To think that honoring our past is to ensure that the present does not leave its mark. Maybe the answer lies in cultivating our creative vision so we can discern and be open to the blessings of today so we can preserve them for the generations that will come after us.
Light and shadow can exist together. Sweet can be accompanied by bitter. The past and the present can be celebrated and honored together. And while we may vary on what we hold onto and what we reach for, we are all united in our passion for life and community. And that is enough for us to see our way forward.