“Paradise.” That’s what my sister’s friend called my family cottage after just a few hours of exploring the grounds. “I’ve never been to a cottage like this.”
Krystal, Johnny, and I exchanged satisfied glances; Aly was not wrong. Papineau Lake was not like most lakes, and our humble cottage was certainly not like most cottages.
A literal log cabin built by my great grandparents, the cottage is more than just a family heirloom. It is the “favourite place in the world” of my immediate family, aunts and uncles, cousins, and, now, some of the friends we’ve brought to share it with.
For me, it simply takes a quick whiff of cottagey air to be transported to memories past. To be enveloped in a sea of memories of sand-muffin- baking, mermaid-swimming, and marshmallow-roasting. I have spent some part of each and every summer of my 21 years of life at Oma and Opa’s cottage, and, each time I step foot inside, I am overwhelmed by the reality that another year had passed by.
We have often called the cottage a “time machine” in this way. When you’re there, you can’t help but reminisce. For Oma and Opa, this means 60 years ago, before having kids of their own, to 40 years ago, when my mom was growing up, to 10 years ago, when my sisters and I joined them.
For Mom, it’s every summer of her own life; from childhood, to bringing my father for the first time, to bringing daughters one, two, and three. Something in the cabin or on the beach or in the boathouse will spark a memory, leading to a “Remember when” story that brings smiles to everyone’s faces.
Even Johnny, who just finished his third summertime at the cottage, now has memories, shares in the reminiscing, and remarks, “It feels like we were just here. It’s hard to believe another year has gone by.”
This past weekend was one to remember. Our one summer engaged, and Johnny and I navigating the change of graduating and entering “the real world,” this was a weekend of much-welcomed rejuvenation and recovery. It was an indescribable blessing to spend time with my family, and ultra-hot weather made it easy to jump right into Papineau’s clear blue.
I blog about the cottage because I want to remind you of some things that God through Papineau whispered to me this weekend:
Chase His presence.
Just like getting out in nature and away from screens after weeks of work and stuffy air and endless tasks is incredibly rejuvenating pretty much instantly, sitting at the feet of Jesus– who is omnipresent– is instantly healing. Don’t put off time with Him. There is no part of your day and no season of your life that doesn’t require the wisdom of Your Maker, and intimacy with Him.
Prioritize loved ones.
Being in community with my family and friends in a setting where I couldn’t think or do anything about my thoughts about work or the wedding or other things that demand my attention reminded me how important it is that, whenever I am spending time with loved ones, I am giving them undivided attention.
Love life– but not too much.
Recently, I have been struggling for the first notable time with coveting my life to the point of not wanting it to end. There’s so much I want to do in this world, and time is so short, I’ve thought. I wish I could have more of it.
Bringing these thoughts to Jesus, He has quieted my guilt for feeling them, and strengthened my purpose in HIM– the joy I have in living is from above, but my life is His alone. My body is not my own; my money is for His glory; and my very life is purposed to bring Him glory. “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” JOHN 12:25
You don’t need a beautiful Northern-Ontario getaway in order to refresh your soul. Take ownership of it and live in His Grace and Truth today.