Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Hideaway Hindsight

Getting caught up in the view while overlooking the vision.

I love our time at Lakeside, which by the way now includes wi-fi access if we force ourselves to buy coffee...yeah, that's not a tough trade off. However this year I can't help but make comparisons to the short bursts of time we spend here as a family to the traditions Amy and I were privileged to take to heart at "The Big House" earlier this year.

I can't help but look at photos of that family home and think, "If only we had known."

If only we had realized what it was we hoped to accomplish before we started, we would have had goals, a game plan...and perhaps achieved even more than the already astounding amount of family bonding that takes place at Lakeside.

Each year a large portion of our family - Amy's side - mine has already drifted too far afield, gathers in a rented house at Lakeside on Lake Erie with the intent of keeping the family together.

In comparison to most families, this is a remarkable thing and we do it well...very well...considering the short amount of time we set aside for it. Yes, there are some familial rough edges and carried-over hurts which seem to arise each year causing stress, and temporarily hurt feelings. However, for the most part, those feelings pass quickly and we are able to enjoy each other's children, for at least one week a year, see how they've grown...or grown up. We've seen the family expand and hope to see it to continue to grow and prosper.

However, I do realize that we missed a chance. We overlooked an opportunity by getting too caught up in the wonderment of the view. It's easy to see now....how I only wish we had seen it then.

We didn't see the real chance we had 14 or 15 years ago to deliberately set aside a space for the family. Not a rental house, or a one week cottage for a summer "visit", but a permanent spot to gather during all times of the year. The good times...the hard times.

It wouldn't be a place where we would measure how each other's children had grown, or how each family had changed over the course of a year, but rather it would be the foundation of our family of faith and a place to influence that growth. A communal home that would grow with the family and where the intent would be purposeful: to pass along and reinforce our family values.

Almost like a saving's account where we would constantly be reinvesting in what's truly important, the family's strength.

Don't get me wrong, each family within our family has been blessed with great kids, but had we - a dozen or more years ago - set aside the notion of "where" and instead focused on the goal of "why" I think we'd have an even strong family and would certainly have made a far wiser choice.

In truth, for a fraction of the monies spent over all these years, we could have purchased a giant ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere with room to grow and instead of the family fortunes being invested in air fares, travel costs, gate fees, and restaurant tabs associated with our "one week" together, we could have set aside those funds to really settle in. We could have plowed the ground, turned the soil of generations and really provided a place for the seedlings of our family, the basis of our beliefs to bloom.

Oh, what that would be...a place where family could come together for holidays and vacations, but also for celebrations, weddings, and even to gather to share our common grief.

I knew the first time we visited Lakeside how special it was for our children to have a place where they could establish relationships with their cousins and grandparents and uncles and aunts...but I didn't have the vision to see the true opportunity.

Instead of a rented vacation home...we could have set up a homestead...upon which we could have built a devoted and devout dynasty.

Looking back is so easy....

I forget that looking ahead and not seeing what seems so obvious...that's easy too.