I left my nine month old home with Grandma and joined friends at a resort in the north woods of Michigan back in 1967. We arrived late after car trouble. The “resort” was a deeply wooded island with few inhabitants, no electricity or running water, and bears. Without lights, it was very dark when we got out of the safety of our car and entered our home for the next week, a very small, early model camper. Did I mention bears?
My friend and I spent our time playing too many games of Sorry to count, consuming dozens of chocolate chip cookies, and shedding lots of tears while our men fished. Homesickness for our little ones kept us both longing to leave. I longed for the comforts of my home. As the week wore on my silent whisper became “if I get off here alive, I’ll never step foot on this island again!”
That was 47 year ago. I’ve been back there most of those years. I now own a piece of this serenity. Life is a bit different. My “Grammie’s home on wheels with the couch that moves” as one of my young grandchildren put it is a camper with all the modern conveniences.
My annual return to respite in the north woods this year was full of longing and hope. I would enjoy a time of slower living, no meetings to attend or appointments to keep. It would be my sabbatical, a withdrawing from my normal day-to-day life to a time of recreating of emotional reserves, a refilling and refueling. And a time to write.
The scenery was the same. The mountains had not moved from their stately stand guarding the borders of the blue waters. The pine tree across the water
that houses the nest of t he bald eagle was still there. The bald eagle shared his family with us this year, including their young eagle learning to soar across the skies. The loons still sang early each morning and came to fish in the waters off my beach.
The setting was ideal, but the re-creation of my emotional reserves didn’t come. Instead I traveled a journey of dark days and nights. The fierce gray skies and cold rain brought the elements for a perfect storm of discouragement and depression. As the rain and cold lingered, so did the darkness of my heart and mind. The sun helped to chase away the gloom, but it came out infrequently. Father God seemed so distant and unaware of my struggle. My heart was bound. No words appeared on the blank screen though I tried several times to write.
The caring of a friend helped me climb out of the abyss. She was willing to stay with me, allowing me to be where I was, not requiring me to get over it, not pampering me as a child, but sitting alongside me as a woman friend, a fellow traveler who has known her own dark times.
As the darkness cleared, my heart longed for home and more structured life. The planned travel date was delayed several days due to truck repair. The day did come to pack up and leave the dreariness. As we traveled south toward the sun and warmth I thought of being back home with all of it’s beauty and convenience. My heart began to revive. Life would be good. Home would be free of the stress and struggle I had been experiencing.
Upon arrival home …… “What, no air conditioning?” That was my first sign of things to come. A severe storm had fried the air conditioning, the internet connections and the in-house phones. Amidst unpacking, loads of laundry and cleaning I met with repair technicians. It took several phone calls and visits by different techs before we could say systems were back running. Stress for sure. At one point my spouse and I needed to stop, ask for forgiveness and commit to begin the day again with a hug and renewed attitude.
As a side note, spiders decided we had vacated the home for good and took up residence in many places they were not welcome. The banishing of the spiders took considerable time at the end of a vacuum hose.
What is to be learned by the events of the past weeks?
**LIGHT comes after the darkness
**Kindness to one’s hurting heart is never silly or foolish
**The most pristine setting isn’t a guarantee evil won’t lurk to harm and destroy
**Home is my safe place but it isn’t the HOME, welcoming and banquet the deepest part of my heart longs for
**A treasured friend allows me to be a mess and stays in relationship with me. That’s a gift I can offer others
**We women are much more the same than different. We have hopes and dreams, disappointment and discouragement. As sisters of Eve, we know of evil’s desire to deceive us.
**I am not alone in my journey. Others have traveled through dark times and long for HOME. Together we can band together as sister travelers, sharing our stories with one another under our Red Tent of connecting.
Valerie Avery treasures the journey of embracing all God has gifted her with including creating art and beauty using fibers, beads and nature. The bond of 46 years of marriage has created a legacy as mother to 5 and “Grammie” to 20. She is venturing into the world of writing and is grateful for a place to share stories of growth and hope. You can read more here.
Oh, Valerie! I loved reading this and wondering what would happen next. The long path of life has twists and turns and your entry gave me grace to know it is okay to be in difficult places that hurt and cause us hardship. Thank you.
Dear Becky, I’ve been looking for places that show goodness and purpose for the journey I’ve recently traveled. Your words are some of that goodness. To be in community where our stories intersect and help each other is a gift. I love sharing those places of community with you.
Thank you, Valerie for your honest entry of how your life has been this past summer. I appreciate your reality of what remains constant in a place that holds years of memories is also a place where you have struggled deeply with discouragement and depression. Yes…home sweet home…and then there is more. Love you, my friend.
Yes Mary Jane, there is more and you have been a great example to me of how to hold “and/both”. There are places of goodness and hard places and we can live and grow in each.
Longing and disappointment, rest and stress, sun and rain, home and not home….ah, life earthside has it’s challenges, and when we learn to settle in regardless of our circumstances, we find rest for our souls. But who of us arrives there permanently? Not till heaven, yes; this is the promise of heaven. Well done, Valerie. Thank you for sitting to write even though….
Dear friend, I love how you come alongside me and all of us to share that you know the journey toward Home doesn’t come to a place of continued calm. Together we can weather the dry places. Thanks for the companionship.
It is my pleasure to walk alongside, and I hope someday to meet many of you.