The lake is a beautiful place, but wild. So wild, I asked Kyle, just the two of us working together, cutting down Prickly Ash, searching out patches of Poison Ivy – I asked him, “Do you feel like a pioneer?” He nodded. Yes. This land of ours untamed. Later we’re building fires to burn the rubble, one up top, the other down toward the lakeshore. “Are you sure this is safe?” I asked the question moments before the wind picked up and I’m using his baseball cap as a futile bucket to manage the flames.
Maple runs up the path and back down in a fraction of the time it takes her middle-aged guardians on multiple trips. And I’m trying not to think about Grammy, and how will we ever get her down this mountain to enjoy the water? That dog of ours is all kinds of joyful mangy. Wet from swimming, black from cutting a path through the ashes of a burned out fire. It’s a holiday weekend, and Grant and Nils join us, and Nils’ muscly friend, strategically recruited. There’s a boatlift and dock sitting shore-side, and we’ll need some brawn if we’re to have any fun.
Later Grant and Kyle are up the hill taking advantage of a neighbor’s outlet for blowing up tubes, the rest of us taking a breather in the boat on the lift. Maple’s back and forth and next thing we know she’s swam out too far, energy spent from a day of frenzied frolic. We try to lure her into the boat, but she’s tuckered out, so Nils jumps in to give her rescue. And it’s not until he’s saved the dog, and waded to shore for the basket of towels, he discerns his error. iPhone zipped into a pocket of borrowed swim shorts, and Oh, that’s no good. I hear him say it more than once.
The boys are tubing and I’m consoling my left-out pup, when I fetch my own cell-phone from the pick-up truck where it’s been safe and dry since our morning arrival. There’s a text from my mom, an update on a week-long story, no good either. My baby brother and his heartbreaking drama, and I call my mom, but I have no words. God can do things we’re not expecting, and we’re all of us asking for a miracle of supernatural proportions. A man and his wife and precious baby, broken.
Sunday morning I sit on my porch swing enjoying so much peace and quiet. There’s something to be said about a house built and a yard tamed, and I wonder if it’ll ever be like this out on there on Green Lake. I pray for my family, start with my brother. My mom and my dad. So many years and so many prayers, and we need a miracle today. I say this to God, and I know He can do it. Order from chaos, it’s what He’s been doing from the very beginning, and there’s no reason to think He’s not doing it now.
And I can’t help but wonder what it was like when He first created. Before it was broken. Before the Prickly Ash and the Poison Ivy. Before you had to worry about tics giving you Limes Disease and annoying mosquitos carrying who-knows-what. Before brothers with babies numbing their pain with their grown-up bottles, and Mamas and Daddies hearts ripped to shreds with their impossible decisions. And I keep on praying the prayer that’s never failed us. God, I trust you.
The lake is a beautiful place, but wild. It’s why we loved it, and why we chose it, and someday, maybe, the place will be tame. Tame enough for family to come and kids to play and parents to rest. But even then there’ll be plenty that’s broken, and like my friend Sheryl says about her own home, nestled in trees overlooking the river. You know it’s not Heaven. No not Heaven. Not yet.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.