Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rafting the Grande Ronde River

The Grande Ronde river starts high in the Blue Mountains of NE Oregon, near the Anthony Lakes ski area.  Salmon and steelhead still run up its 182 mile length from where it joins the Snake River in SE Washington.  After watering the agricultural lands of the Grande Ronde Valley, the river flows though rugged, forested canyons. It has been designated a wild and scenic river in its lower stretches.

Basically a gentle river with a few challenging yet safe rapids, it makes for excellent family rafting.  Meg and I and our sons rafted it numerous times in the late seventies and eighties.  This past weekend, several of us adults from Boy Scout Troop 514 took seven Scouts down the river.  The boys enjoyed learning to row, figuring out how to maneuver past rocks and other challenges.  They fished and also prepared excellent meals in the dutch ovens that we brought along.

After we had set up camp Saturday afternoon, one of the boys spotted a rattlesnake crawling through camp. Although I disliked killing it, I did not want to risk the danger of someone inadvertently getting bit. I skinned it out and gave the skin to one of the Scouts.  In the morning, we fried in in left over bacon grease and french toast topping.  The boys found it to be tasty, and enjoyed this unique culinary experience.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Word of the Lord endures forever

I love the book of Isaiah. Despite Isaiah's dire warnings about the consequences of Israel's apostasy, despite the geopolitical attacks against Jerusalem, the Lord speaks through his prophet of His sovereignty and compassion, His justice and mercy.  Nations fade, we fade, but throughout the book of Isaiah, God reminds us that He and His Word are eternal; no matter what our circumstances, we can rest safely in His comfort. Isaiah's message is well worth our time to read and re-read.

Painted Hills, Oregon

Hells Canyon, Oregon

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Light eternal

Several weeks of rain culminated last Saturday (June 9th) with Meg and me "enjoying" a picnic in the rain at Morgan Lake, normally a beautiful flower filled location within fifteen minutes of La Grande.  I had promised Meg the weather would clear and we would see a rainbow, but the drizzle never let up. Sunday, however, the weather cleared, the sun shone, and the blue sky was filled with white, puffy clouds.

As we drove into the remote Zumwalt country, I felt as though my eyes had never seen this kind of light.  The weeks of rain had dulled my senses and memory. Light was new and glorious. Since then I have thought about our transition from earthly life to eternal life.  We live with occasional intimations of Heaven, but those moments are dulled by all the material aspects of the life we live. We "sort of/kind of" know what life after life will be like.  Yet as I think of how surprised and grateful I was for this week's sunshine--a phenomenon I already know--how much more surprising and praiseworthy will be our life after death.  "In your light we see light."  That can only happen when we are in the Presence of our Creator.

Zumwalt Road looking toward the Wallowa Mts.

Lower Imnaha River canyons from Buckhorn Springs overlook

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rugged and Remote

Rugged and remote, the Zumwalt Prairie lies in the extreme northeast corner of Oregon. Rich diversity of plant and animal life, particularly hawks, make this an enchanting place.  Several hundred thousand acres of grassland grows on top of this basalt plateau, between 3500 and 6000 feet in elevation. Much of it has not be cultivated, so it remains a remarkable example of an ecosystem that existed before the white settlers arrived. Meg and I recently shared the trip with Marshal, our Chinese MBA student.  He remarked how much of the area reminded him of the high plateau country of Tibet.  We are blessed to be so close--instead of days of travel to reach similar diversity in Tibet, we only needed to drive a few hours from La Grande to enjoy the serene and sublime beauty of the Zumwalt.

View from Buckhorn Springs

Lower Imnaha river canyon

Zumwalt Barn

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Focused without distractions

Oswald Chambers writes, "the abiding awareness of the believer's life is to be God Himself, not just thoughts about Him. The total being of our life inside and out is to be totally obsessed by the presence of God."

I realize I do not like the word "obsessed."  It has too many negative connotations in the current psychology of our society.  Yet if I am totally obsessed by His Presence, then I am devoted/committed to Him and not distracted by the "trinkets" that I fill my life with. And if I maintain this deep devotion and discipline, then worries slip off and do not stick to me.  Instead, I can fill myself with wonder and gratitude for all He provides. Then He is truly a refuge, and my path is secure.

John Day River

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Binding ourselves to God

This passage attributed to St Patrick is a great reminder that God is the source of everything that I am. What matters is my total commitment/relationship to Him, not merely my "thoughts" about Him.

"I bind myself today to the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay, his ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach, his hand to guide, his shield to ward,
the Word of God to give me speech, His heavenly host to be my guard."

attributed to St Patrick,  c. 420 

Meg and I loved how this spring, its source unknown to us.
brought refreshing beauty to this dry sagebrush of SE Oregon.

The Birch Creek ranch on the lower Owyhee River of SE Oregon