Saturday, October 29, 2011

Remembering that God loves us

Rueben Job writes, "Leap from doubt to belief and remember that God loves you, delights in you, and yearns for your response of faith in HIm and His Creation."  Too often we judge ourselves harshly, thinking that we do not deserve God's love and forgiveness.  Yet, no matter who we are or what we have done, His love for us is never diminished. He is always there when we turn and return to HIm.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A wonderful journey

After driving 8,200 miles to New Hampshire and back, Meg and I are home. We return feeling incredibly blessed to live in this country, and to be able to travel the way we did for six weeks. Our return trip took us across Ontario and into the States at Sault Ste Marie, a name that has resonated in my memory since fifth grade geography.  We enjoyed watching several freighters come through the Soo Locks.  The next day, we drove through the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore of Lake Superior, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. From there through Wisconsin and into MInnesota to stay with Meg's college roommate/maid of honor on a lake near Bemidji. We had not seen her for forty one years, and we enjoyed long, deeply stimulating discussions as we caught up. Two long days of driving took us to Livingston, MT.  The fall cottonwoods were at their peak as we drove along the Yellowstone River, and entered Yellowstone Park at Gardner. Snow had fallen lightly the night before, but the day was sunny and crisp, making the trees and grass especially brilliant.

We feel a deep sense of joy and wonder at all we have seen and done.  So much of this trip took us to places we had only read about, often dating  back to elementary school.  This is an expansive country; it is good to have experienced it from ground level.

Garfield Lake, MN

Grand Marias, Upper Peninsula, MI

Itasca Lake, MN.  Where the Mississippi River begins

Lake Superior, MI

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone NP

Prospect Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs

Miners Castle, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI

Munising Falls, MI

Meg, Paul Bunyan, and Babe.  Bemidji, MN

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore agates

Soo Locks

Yellowstone NP

Yellowstone River

Monday, October 24, 2011

seasons of eternity

Meg and I have enjoyed an extended and nuanced fall this season: aspens starting to turn in Glacier National Park, colors intensifying in New Hampshire, leaves both falling and full in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and bare trees with patches of yellow in Minnesota. The fulness of fall has overflowed into our lives, reminding us of eternal eons of seasons that have preceeded this one. God has planted eternity deep within us. The transitory is wonderful to enjoy, but it never brings lasting happiness. As St Theresa wrote, "let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.  All things are passing; only God remains."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Where do we "fix" our thoughts?

Oswald Chambers writes, "All of God's reveal truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience." My Utmost for His Highest, October 10. Obedience is difficult for us in the 21st century. If we are obedient, then we have a boss, and lose our "freedom," which after all, in this country, is an inalienable right. Or we claim to be obedient, and end up also being judgmental and self righteous. Whatever our reasons for this lack of obedience, it also creates a lack of gratitude.  Busyness too often interrupts spiritual breathing.

I am connecting three different thoughts on my pictures this week: the perfect peace that we find in fixing out thoughts on God, the depth of our souls that we discover through God,  and the joy we experience when gratitude governs our behaviors.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Hampshire fall colors

Time with Michael and Sara, as well as our siblings in New Hampshire have restored and revitalized us for our return west to Oregon. Meg and I are even more enthusiastic about the return leg of our trip than we were coming east. We have learned that we can handle driving 350 miles or so a day.  The time together in the car--talking, meditating, listening to audible books, marveling at the scenery--is excellent.  We will leave Sunday morning, drive north to Montreal, and then west to Saut Ste Maire.  We will visit a friend in Bemiji, MN and then continue on Hwy 2 through North Dakota.  After that, we will decide whether of not to stay on Hwy 2 and see Glacier National Park again, or drop down to Yellowstone.  Much of our travel route will depend on the weather.

We are deeply grateful for the time we have enjoyed and for the awesome, never ending wonders/beauty of this Nation.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Niagara Falls, American and Horseshoe

In a different way, Niagara Falls stands/flows as testimony to the greatness of our National Park system.  Although the falls are partially protected by a small New York state park, the immediate vicinity is crowed with hotels, casinos, shopping malls, and other commercial distractions.  If you want to see how it looked in the 1800's, go to Wikipedia and scroll far down to the "Fine Art" section.  You will find a couple amazing paintings. We do need to be grateful that this country has devoted so much effort to preserving the finest of our unique natural places.

Meg and I had never seen the Falls, which, we learned, are actually two major ones--American and Horseshoe. After viewing it at night, with all the big city commercial lights, we almost did not go back.  Fortunately, we did return and took the "Maid of the Mist" boat ride that indeed takes you deep into the mist of Horseshoe Falls.  We had not comprehended the power of the falls as the water drops from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.  An average of four million cubic feet of water PER MINUTE falls into the river below. It was the most awesome water display we have seen. This power is gradually eroding the falls, and geologists estimate that in fifty thousand years, the remaining twenty miles to Lake Erie will have been removed, and falls will vanish into merely a swift river. We will be happy to go back  and see the Falls again before they disappear.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "I would never have been president if it had not be for my experiences in North Dakota."  As Meg and I traveled across eastern Montana two weeks ago, we saw this national park on the map in the southwestern corner of North Dakota.  We had never heard of it and it looked relatively small.  Nonetheless, we decided to stop in Medora, which is located right at the entrance to the Park.  It was a great decision!

These badlands, formed by sediment washing eastwards from the young, upthrusting Rockies, contain magical shapes and outstanding colors. Wildlife--from prairie dogs, to buffalo, to turkeys--is profuse. The Little Missouri river runs through it, adding a special verdant effect.  Teddy Roosevelt spent time here from 1883 to 1886, seeking solace and recovery from the same day deaths of his wife and mother.  He recognized this land as the last remnant of the American west, and his conservation values were formed here. During this three years, he was actively involved in cattle ranching.

Here is a final quote from him: "The Bad Lands grade all the those that are so fantastically broken in form and so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth."