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Love Is Still Alive In This Place

I’m joining today with the Five Minute Friday community of writers who write for 5 minutes about a one-word prompt.

Today’s writing prompt is ROOT.

This is the first road trip to the lake that we’ve taken by ourselves, without the rest of my family in tow. And as I ride in the passenger seat of our car about 20 minutes from our destination, I start to realize just how much everything has changed. 

It’s Thursday evening and I’ve taken off Friday so that my husband and I can spend some time with my grandparents in their lake home in Michigan before heading to Saugatuck for a mini getaway. 

The drive is beautiful, and it’s incredible that after 27 years of returning to this same spot, I’ve only just begun to notice the rolling green hills, lavender-laid fields, and towering pines that make you feel like you’re driving right into a fairytale. 

We turn into the driveway, the view of the lake filtering through the trees just ahead and it all comes rushing back to me.

My cousins and I are running around in our lifejackets and swimsuits, tiny feet and hands reaching for adventure and joy wherever we can find it. Our days are filled with swimming, boating, tubing, catching turtles, and ice cream runs in my grandpa’s old Model T. 

Our nights are spent in the bathtub, rinsing and washing a day’s worth of lake water away. Then we sit by the fire in the front yard where we listen in awe to my grandpa’s stories as my grandma serves us our bedtime snacks which consist of some kind of sweet treat.

Nostalgia is a funny thing, and as I step onto the driveway reaching for my bags, I feel the ache of longing for a time long since passed. 

A time of innocence, wonder, and pure magic. 

It’s all a bit faded and worn now, even the house looks different through my 27-year-old eyes; a reminder of how I, too, have aged and changed.  

My husband reaches for our bags and I swing my backpack over my shoulder, holding both sorrow and joy in my heart. 

He goes on ahead of me, but before I can take another step, I pause. On the left side of the driveway, there are stone pavers that lead to the front of my grandparent’s lake house. I stare down at them and even they are aged and worn. 

They used to sit comfortably atop the grass, but 30 years of coming and going have pushed them into the ground, rooted them down deep into this place. In that moment, I wonder how many of my own roots can be traced back to this ground, too.

Some of the pavers are grass-covered and can only partially be seen and I’m careful to place my feet on each one of them, the echoes of a childhood game reverberating off the walls of my mind.

The grass is lava, the stone pavers are safe, and I mustn’t let my foot slip. 

But no one is here to play that game with me and even if they were, we probably wouldn’t think of it. 

Getting older can act as a dulling agent, wearing the magic down like old paint that chips and loses its vibrancy. 

With only a few pavers left, I hear my grandma’s voice coming through the screen door and I’m relieved to remember that some things do stay the same. 

We don’t run around in lifejackets and swimsuits anymore or wade in the water for hours, patiently waiting to capture turtles. 

But bedtime snacks are still served, stories are still shared, and love and laughter are still alive in this place. 

And maybe that’s the lesson, right there. That although years pass, seasons change and people grow up and go down different paths, love remains the same. It’s the one common denominator that keeps us connected and coming back long after the lifejackets are outgrown and the paddleboat’s put away. 

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV)

Even as the years pass and people change, love lives. It remains, endures, protects, delights, and always hopes. 

It’s alive in the worst of times and the best of times, and as I spend the weekend listening to my grandpa’s stories and jokes and hearing my grandmother laugh, I think to myself that maybe, just maybe, love is stronger than magic. 

It’s a light in the darkness, a beacon of hope in times of suffering, a shelter in the storm, and the one thing that we can always run home to.

Love is the root of all these memories and love is the one thing that keeps them alive.