She’d asked her daddy to take her back to Acadia, the national park in Bar Harbor, Maine, where she’d made so many childhood memories. She wanted to introduce her husband to some of the places which had shaped her–the trails she’d hiked, the beauty she’d witnessed, the salt air she’d breathed.
As a family, we’d made the pilgrimage to Bar Harbor together for many years when she and her brother were young. There are reasons tourists flock to New England in the fall, and Acadia offers a stunning array of these to travelers willing to make the journey. Sixty-five years ago, more than ten thousand acres within the park were devastated by fire. A riot of orange, yellow, and red, the seasonal offerings of deciduous trees, now blazes where formerly stood only a uniform covering of evergreen trees. Where fire once destroyed, beauty now shines brightly.
In Acadia, fall’s colors contrast with subdued blues and grays where Atlantic waters meet pointed granite coastline. We returned to a favorite spot near Otter Cliffs to watch surf rise and fall. Waters pounded against jagged coastline as they have since Spirit hovered over them, assigning each to their places. Somehow the rhythm of water rising and falling–the violence of waves crashing and breaking–soothed my soul.
We hiked a few trails together; recalling places our footsteps had slid on fallen leaves and slippery granite in years past. We returned to a favorite, the Great Head Trail, one we had experienced during a guided park ranger hike when my children were working toward earning Junior Ranger badges. The guide had shown us the remains of a tea house set high on the coastline overlooking the rocky New England shore. It had been built in the early 1900’s by New York banker J.P. Morgan as a gift for his daughter. As the ranger told the tale, he broke out a bottle of ginger ale and cookies he’d carried with him in his pack, and treated us to an impromptu tea party as we sat upon the tea house ruins.
“It was one of my favorite childhood memories,” my daughter said.
“Remember getting soaked at Thunder Hole?”
“Remember when we took hot chocolate in a thermos during our carriage ride through the park, and the way it splashed and spilled all over us?”
Ann Voskamp wrote, “In recollecting all the goodnesses of God — all the brokenness in us re-collects. We are put back together. We are re-membered. We heal.”
Not all family memories are happy ones. We travel together as wounded pilgrims. Sometimes tempers flare and anger burns. Tempests rage and storms surge. But I was grateful to my daughter for wanting to return to this place and to her daddy for bringing us. It is good to know that, in having dragged our daughter and her brother up, down, over, and through places these places, we created some good memories. We got some things right.
It was healing to return to these places where God’s goodness was everywhere on display. I am grateful for this opportunity we had to be re-membered.
My daughter couldn’t hike all the trails she had as a child. She now carries within her a new member of our family, her son. He will have no memory of this, his first trip to Acadia. But he will have stories, told by his mama of having traveled with us to this place before he was born.
Throughout the course of the weekend we spent time together and we spent time apart. My daughter and her husband are creating their own memories now; ones I pray will be shaped by beauty and wonder, by wind and waves and the One whom these things obey.
Linking with Laura @ The Wellspring: