As expected, summer has been somewhat discontiguous for CollectiveMKE. People tend take advantage of the warm weather to take vacations near and far before the leaves fall and the snow flies. This sometimes makes for smaller gatherings or gatherings at different locations because the House Church owners are out of town. We've found that these smaller gatherings can be as rich as the larger ones, so always make an attempt to show when we can.
Last week we were among the vacationing as we took our annual trip to "the cabin," a place we typically rent for a week in Mercer, Wisconsin. It is a week of fun and frolic as we enjoy the waning days of our summer skin - so to speak.
As a family, we spend it in a variety of ways. Everyone has a different way to relax and one thing we've grown to learn over the years is to leave each one to his/her own devices once we hit vacation. Donna is perfectly content to sit and read a book for hours. I'm more the weekend warrior, trying to fit in some fishing, swimming, reading and kayaking - every day if possible. The kids tend to like to sleep in and do a little of everything, depending on their mood and the day.
One thing that stood out to me on this trip was the incredible beauty we have as part of God's creation. Most every night was clear and a couple of times I sat on the dock with my wife or kids and just looked up amazed at the sheer number of stars. During these sessions we frequently saw shooting stars and on one of the evenings, we saw the makings of Northern Lights. The whole experience was extremely humbling.
The book of Job reminds us that God is part of it when it reads: "Is not God in the heights of heaven? And see how lofty are the highest stars." Job 22: 12
Another spiritual experience was walking along the banks of the Presque Isle River in Michigan as part of a day trip we took. There is something mystical about walking among the huge pines - some as old as 400 years old - with nothing but the rushing water and the sound of our own breath to carry us along. As I walked I found myself praying for a couple of friends who recently lost a sibling and a spouse. It is the peace and splendor of the forest that brings us back to center sometimes.
There were a multitude of other instances last week where I was reminded of God's majestic creation.
- The kayak trip through the bullrushes and cattails of a grown over river - a river teeming with unique, beautiful and, admittedly sometimes creepy, creatures.
- Sunsets that seemed to evolve and get more beautiful right before my eyes.
- Powerful waterfalls and rapids and the rocks carved from their years of flow.
Amongst all of this beauty, I spent time listening to stories from other campers - strangers that became friends by the end of the week. There were stories of sadness and joy, adventure, mischief and lots and lots of laughter. While church didn't come up much, in some ways, by the end of the week our group almost had the feel of micro-CollectiveMKE. We bared a bit of our lives, shared our sorrows and interests and connected in small ways. Our church was a common love for the outdoors and "up north."
It was an overwhelmingly positive week, and I am just thankful that God continually revealed his majesty, power and love during my visit to "God's Country."