Sunday, July 29, 2012

With You there is light, help, patience--and wisdom

"God, let my thoughts be gathered to you.  With you there is light; you do not forget me. With you there is help. With you there is patience.  I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me."  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Eagle Cap Wilderness, OR

Hat Creek bench, Hells Canyon

Saddle Creek overlook, Hells Canyon

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Vietnam Moving Wall

First displayed in 1985, the Moving Wall is a brilliantly conceived, deeply dedicated replica of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington DC. It is a vivid and elegiac reminder of the innocence this Nation lost during that war, and the ever needed forgiveness and reconciliation that remains for this Nation, we citizens, to give to those thousands who fought and died so far away.  Through the efforts of committed veterans in this community, the wall was on display near La Grande for five days.  Let us always remember and honor these sacrifices.

Lakes in Wallowa County

Wallowa County, in northeast Oregon, provides wonderful alpine lake country, from its "jewel" namesake, Wallowa Lake, to the Eagle Cap Wilderness.  Meg and I have enjoyed the tranquility of these settings over the last few weeks. Special light and special moments of reflections, personal and physical, stimulate mind and heart.

Chimney Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness

Waterfall at Chimney Lake

Buck below Joseph Mt.

Mt Joseph in alpenglow reflections in Wallowa Lake

Reflected moraine

Reflected alpenglow

Wallowa Lake near boat dock

Friday, July 20, 2012

By light rather than by feel

This week I was looking for something in a wire drawer that was located slightly above my head.  The area was dark, but I wanted to find it by "feel" instead of by light.  After several minutes of fruitless feeling, I finally turned on the light, and found it immediately.

I have discovered living my life is quite similar.  So often, I function by feel, attempting to do the task my way. From a believer's viewpoint, I have realized the vast, unbridgeable gap between living life according to my own ethics/morals and God's.  I am soon lost without the firm, but gentle/kind path that God leads me on. God's light is so much more than "lighting a candle in the darkness." It is Truth itself, embracing me in my good times and my bad; always leading me home to Him. He is the "life giving light!"

Bowman Trail in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, OR

Ohope Beach, NZ

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Speak to us, Lord

I deeply enjoy reading the short homilies that Thomas รก Kempis wrote seven hundred years ago in "The Imitation of Christ." Each page is richly filled with wisdom for people of any age, culture, belief, status or position

"With the prophet Samuel, I humbly and earnestly plead, 'speak Lord, for your servant is listening.' Do not let Moses speak to me or any of the prophets, but rather you speak, Lord God, the inspirer and giver of light to all the prophets. You alone, without them, can instruct me perfectly. They without you can be of no benefit to me.

"They indeed speak the words, but they cannot give the Spirit. They speak most beautifully, but if you are silent, they cannot kindle the heart.

"They teach the letter, but you open the meaning; they bring forth mysteries, but you open the true understanding of their signs. They declare the commandments, but you enable us to obey them. They show the way, but you give the strength to walk in it. They work from outside, but you instruct and enlighten within the heart.

"They water, but you give the increase. They cry aloud in words, but you give understanding of the words that are heard."

Wallowa Mts above the Imnaha River Canyon

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Traveling to Hat Point in Hells Canyon

Last week I posted pictures from my hike down into Hells Canyon from Hat Point.  However, like a picture book, there are two sides to the views found on this trip. The rugged road begins in the the town of Imnaha and reaches a knife edge drop-off before the first overlook into the middle portion of the Imnaha river.  The Imnaha river is the second longest in Wallowa County, and its ruggedness rivals that of the Snake river in Hells Canyon. At the same time the sculpted layers of the Imnaha canyon draw one's eyes downward, the snow covered Wallowa mountains draw them upwards.  The contrast is jarring, yet it is softened by the beautiful wildflowers that seem to divide these two worlds. This location is one of those rare places that allow the heart, mind, and soul to hang onto radical contrasts.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Our present, God's future

Meg and I are enjoying early morning devotions on our front porch as we hear and watch multiple hummingbirds at the feeders we have set out.  However, these delicate and remarkable birds are not gentle.  They are exceptionally territorial with one species fighting against another and even "bullies" within the same species demanding first rights to the feeder.

These observations have prompted some thoughts about our "natural" world.  If we view the world only through secular eyes, we will be stuck for endless generations in our territoriality--in our selfish, egotistic "me (or my group) first". Yet God has given us another way: Isaiah boldly predicts the "the calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion."  And, "no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain." Not only does God tell us that He will reverse/level the current social structures, but He calls us to be part of the movement.  From Isaiah Chapter 58: 6-8, to Christ's call in the Gospels, we are called to bring salt and light, hope and comfort, to those who suffer. From the Beatitudes to the sheep and the goats, Christ shows us the strength in forgiveness, in giving up our "rights."  With Him, we do not have to define and defend "territory." We know that nothing separates us from HIs Love, and that all boundaries, of whatever kind, are removed by His mercy and justice.

Memaloose, Hells Canyon


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hells Canyon hiking

Of all the hikes I have been privileged to do in Oregon, the Hat Point trail into Hells Canyon is one of my top three.  Marshal, our Chinese MBA student, Bob Carter, my PCT hiking companion, and I spent two nights and three days in the canyon this last week of June.  The trail drops a couple thousand feet in three miles down to spring time green benches and massive ponderosa pine trees. Filled with wildflowers and bird songs, this is one of the most peaceful and awe inspiring place one could spend time.  The geologic forces that formed this canyon include volcanoes, inland oceans, tectonic plate collisions, more lava flows and the slow cutting force of the Snake river, which now forms the boundary between Oregon and Idaho. Measured from the heights of Idaho's Seven Devils mountains to the river, the canyon is 7, 993 deep, deeper than the Grande Canyon.  Its long sculpted, layered benches remind one of the Grand Canyon, although the colors are shades of green and brown, rather than reds and tans. One is humbled to think of the Creator who spoke all this into existence and whose Presence is still there. Indeed, I felt I was truly in His holy temple.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


As a photographer, I am obviously wrapped up in the nature of light. I spent four days this past week hiking, camping, and taking pictures in Hells Canyon, both below the rim and on top. As I enjoyed the delicate gentleness of early morning light and the subtle strength of evening light, I contrasted those times of day to the hot, harsh light in between.  In much the same way, I considered how our lives develop.  We enter the world in the cool morning of our early years, move into the harsher realities of day to day living as adults, and then, with the strength we have gained, transition into senior years which hopefully are wiser in recognizing the nuances of people and their situations.

I have chosen the writings for two pictures from this trip in the context of a very dear saint, wife, mother and teacher who recently passed away.  Her life was a call to all of us in La Grande to live gently and confidently in the Lord and His compassion and comfort for all His children.

Wallowa Mountains

Bench below Hat Point, Hells Canyon