My mother was born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, then moved to Chicago during the Depression. She married, had a family and lived all of her life in the Chicago area. While all of us were youngsters, my parents bought a cottage on a lake. We spent every summer in the Upper Peninsula.

There were quite a few relatives who lived or vacationed nearby, and the lake was wonderful during the summer. We could go swimming, skiing, boating, canoeing or fishing. We always had someone to hang around with. The pizza place in town was the best.

My own daughters loved going to my Mom’s summer cottage. I would tell them that they are going to be surrounded by the people who love them most in the world. And that was true, for our relationships with family members and extended relatives go back decades, over half a century.

We can’t say that for too many high school friends, college friends, or even neighbors. There are very few long-time relationships as relatives.

It’s always wonderful to be surrounded by the people who love you most in the world. You don’t need fancy clothes, fancy cars or fancy things. You just need to be able to give love, receive love and laugh. And forgiving is easy.

One time I told my sister (as her husband was sitting next to her) that she couldn’t get a divorce from me. That’s what family is all about.

But there’s something different that I’ve begun to notice this year. I’ve been coming up to the lake every year of my life along with my sisters and their families. But now my sisters and I are all grandmothers. One of my sisters is a widow. Our parents have both passed on. My aunt and uncle are gone too. The cottages are still on the lake but someday they will be torn down.

The lake and surrounding forests have been pretty much the same for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years. Deer still walk nearby. There are raspberries in the woods. Fish jump and loons swim.

So I have concluded that we’re all just only visitors. We visit the place where we love to be surrounded by the people that we love.

That’s what God’s family is truly all about too: Being surrounded by the people who love you most in the world.

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