Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Glacier National Park

Designated a National Park in 1910, Glacier's million acres of pristine ecosystem is the crown jewel of the American Rockies--although its Canadian counterpart is equally spectacular. From NE Oregon, the drive takes a long day.  Meg and I arrived in the early evening.  After checking into the KOA at West Glacier, we traveled into the park, and were rewarded with rich light on McDonald Lake, and intense alpen glow on the high peaks as the sun set.  The next day was drizzling, but the overcast created its own saturated colors as we drove the Going to the Sun highway.

Most of the native plants and animals still exist here, and the vast array is overwhelming to contemplate--more than a thousand species of plants and hundreds of mammals, birds, and other animals. Sadly, with climate change, the original one hundred and fifty glaciers have diminished to twenty five, with some scientists predicting the end of this era by 2020.  Still, the rugged, glacial peaks and valleys, flowers and streams will endure, challenging the mind with their grandeur and their subtleties. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

One God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all

As Meg and I travel eastward, we have seen the landscape change from the rugged, verdant vertical of Glacier National Park, to the brown fruitful wheat flats of eastern Montana, to the hay and green dairy land on North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the lakes of Wisconsin, and now Niagara Fall.. We see so much more variety than when we fly over this country in one brief day. Yet, we are still in the enclosed confines of a piece of machinery, lacking the intensity of times when we hike through a variety of landscapes and breathe, feel, absorb the scenery into ourselves.

And always, no matter where or how we are, the wonder remains: we are created by a living God, one who lives through us and calls us to be loving and compassionate as He is. He is indeed our peace--when we choose to accept Him fully.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Traveling with God across the country

On Tuesday,my cardiologist cleared me for travel.  Meg and I are leaving this afternoon (Friday) to drive back to New Hampshire to visit Michael and Sara.  In addition, I will be the featured artist at the Great Falls Discovery Center in western Mass for the month of October.  My New England fall pictures were discovered on my web site in January, 2010, and this US Fish and Wildlife Refuge facility asked me to show them.  We are taking the northern tier through Montana, North Dakota, northern Michigan and Canada to Niagara Falls, upstate New York, visiting friends along the way.

Our MBA Chinese student, Marshal, will house sit for us, although for this driving trip we are taking our golden retriever, Dakota, with us.  Jasmine, our other Chinese student, is now in Eugene.  A week and half ago, three years to the date she arrived at SeaTac, we drove her and her possessions to Eugene, where she will begin her studies for a Masters in Accounting.   We have deeply appreciated the opportunity to watch her growth, and to grow ourselves as we expanded our family.

Meg and I are looking forward to this total time together. We have no idea what lies ahead during the next twelve days.  We do know God travels with us and ahead of us. His love surrounds us, as we enjoy His Creation, knowing that our time on earth is exciting, but only temporary. We sing His praises here, and someday we will get to sing His praises in eternity.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our circumstances, then and now

Certainly the world is not the world of a decade ago, nor even further back to the early days when Meg and I began to learn about ourselves, our similarities, strengths, weaknesses after our marriage on September 2, 1967.  We really did not know God then; we believed he was "up there," someplace, but we were strong on our own, not needing a relationship beyond what we were learning to share between us.

We have changed so much over the decades, physically and spiritually.  The one constant, however, has been a deepening journey toward God, trying each day to apply and understand the love He has shown us through Jesus Christ. Cancer challenges, heart challenges all are part of the experience He has laid out for us.  And the question for each of us always is, "how do we respond?"

Oswald Chambers said it so well in his reading from "My Utmost for His Highest" on August 31, and his statement applies to us as well as to this nation:  "Living a full and overflowing life does not depend on bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God's work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God and in the same oneness and fellowship with Him that Jesus himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ladd Marsh, Oregon

When early pioneers reached the Grande Ronde valley in the 1860's, they found the valley was as much a marsh as it was dry land.  Over the decades, Ladd Marsh was drained to make room for a thriving farm community.  Farming is still the major activity in the valley, but over the last four decades, Ladd Marsh has been restored and expanded.  The Oregon Fish and Wildlife department and the City of La Grande entered into a unique inter governmental agreement to allow the City's treated waste water to flow into the marsh, providing a stable source of water. Funding was acquired to purchase adjoining farm and range land, and new ponds were dug.

Now, Ladd Marsh is one of the outstanding birding areas for all kinds of waterfowl and small birds, including cranes, ibis, and egrets.  The ODFW has dedicated staff who have made the area family friendly with birding trails and roads that allow excellent viewing.  A long pier extends into one pond to allow birders to set up with binoculars and spotting scopes.  The area is located on either side of Interstate 84, so access is convenient when you are in the La Grande area.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

God's Mercy

"When God's love touches us in our neediness--the sorrow and suffering inherent in the human condition--we name it mercy. Mercy is perhaps the loveliest of all God's qualities." Elaine Prevallet 

Here is the greatest challenge for me.  The Old and New Testament are filled with statements about God's unfailing love--"the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases." (Lamentations 3: 22-23)  It is easy to be grateful for God's love, but how do I let His love, Christ's love, flow through me like living waters to those around me? This three day weekend, a pivot point between summer and fall, a transition from old and to new seasons, is a great time to consider this call.