Calls in the middle of the night or early morning are generally not good, especially for a pastor. This one was no different, with the exception that it was my dad telling us a storm had hit their home and there was damage mainly to the trees, dock and pontoon boat. He was ok and so was my son, who lives there as well.
Trees down, dock twisted and pontoon thrown out into the lake are really secondary to injuries that could have happened to the ones I love. Yet this hit me hard. You see, my folks have lived on the lake for 67 years and some of those trees I remember them being planted, building a treehouse in another and swinging in a hammock between two others. They are all gone now.
One should not be so upset about trees and property damage. They can generally be replaced. You can always plant more trees. Repairs can be made. But when I go up there the end of this month, it will look completely different. It won’t be the same. The change is too complete.
Normally, I am not too upset by change, especially if I am the one controlling it. But when the winds of change come and the place you knew for 61 years is totally different, there is a sense of loss. So I guess I can understand better when folks in the church talk about all the changes taking place. The things they knew and thought they could count on, have disappeared. What once was, is now different. What was, is now only a heartsick memory from younger days.
But change is inevitable, whether we like it or not. I guess when I go up north to visit I will have to think about what we are going to do. For my 90-year-old father, he is not going to see how the new trees planted will turn out. I might not either.
However, my children and grandchildren will. They will have trees and the old lake home will not be the same as in my youth, but it will still be the place on the lake where I learned to swim, ski and boat. I will tell them stories and will watch them carefully as the little ones play in the water. I will tell them how their great, great grandfather gave his son the cottage on the lake as a wedding present.
I will show them how to swim and how to enjoy the water, being wise of its dangers. I will point to where the trees of my youth use to be, how we climbed in them, swung from their branches and built houses in their strong limbs. Then I will tell them about the storm and why the trees they see today were planted for them.
The place has changed, but the memories, stories and joys of the lake home will always be. At least, as long as there are people to share them. In some ways, this is like the church - the winds of change happen. The changes are not always to our liking. Yet the stories given to us by the family of faith, remind us that the world may change but God does not, and neither does his love for us.