Saturday, October 27, 2012

Receiving God's Love

Last weekend we took care of our friends' goldendoodle, a cross between a poodle and a golden retriever.  Buddy was an excellent companion, mellow and loving. As we interacted, I was again reminded how much a dog tells us about loving God.  All Buddy really wanted was our love.  He reveled in being petted, positioning himself so as best to receive our touches and attention. He seemed to know that he did not need to do anything to "earn" this love other than just making himself open and aware of us. His purpose was not achieve us, but to receive us.  And so it is with our relationship to God.  How do we position ourselves, purpose ourselves, to receive Him?

"Use the things of the world, but long for things of eternity. You cannot be fully satisfied by material possessions, for you are simply not made to enjoy them."  Thomas รก Kempis

Painted Hills

John Day River

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eastern Oregon University, the most beautiful site in eastern Oregon for fall colors

The best fall colors in eastern Oregon are found on the campus of Eastern Oregon University (EOU). The campus commands outstanding views of hills and mountains on all sides.  The grounds are exceptionally well maintained, and the campus "fits" like a warm family home. In the fall, the trees clothe themselves in reds, oranges, yellows of different hues and shapes. One could not find any better setting for a college campus!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Fall colors, as they shimmer and dance, always intensify my thoughts of who I am in relationship to God and the life He has blessed me with. I hope as the seasons turn that somehow I am living more joyfully, more deeply, more hopefully, more simply in His presence. Progress is slow--three steps forward, two and half steps back--but progress nonetheless. I like what Luonne Abram Rouse, a pastor from Zimbabwe, has written in a song:

"Whatever it takes, no matter how long, I will keep the faith until victory has won. For there is no higher calling. There is no higher calling than to travel this journey with You."  Who else, really, is there to travel with?

Kancamagus Highway, NH

McKenzie Pass, OR

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Painted Hills and the beauty of the John Day Country

Like a heavenly paint spill, colorful layers of volcanic ash comprise the Painted Hills. Laid down millions of years ago, when this area was an ancient floodplain, a variety of minerals create this kaleidoscope. Black soil is lignite from vegetative matter, grays and greens are from mudstone, siltstone, and shale. The reds are laterite soil comprised of aluminum and iron oxides.  This area is located far from commonly traveled roads in Oregon. Meg and I have never seen more than three or four cars when we have visited. We continued to travel east through the John Day country and its shimmering yellows of cottonwood and tamarack trees. 

John Day River

Painted Hills

Picture Gorge petroglyphs 

Sheep Rock, John Day Fossil Beds

Tamarack or larch

McKenzie Pass

McKenzie Pass connects Eugene on the west side of the Cascades to Bend and Sisters on the east.  Leaving Eugene, the highway follows the McKenzie river through deep, lush forests past lovely campgrounds and boat launch sites.  If you know how to fish it, the steelhead runs are excellent.
The road to the pass closes in the winter and then only opens once it can be cleared, sometimes as late as June.  It winds sharply and slowly from 2000 feet to 5335 feet.  This time of year, vibrant fall colors dominate until one reaches the lava flows at the top.  Black lava spreads out,  southwards to the Three Sisters peaks and northwards to Mt Washington.  I have hiked the Pacific Crest Trail as it winds its way through these lava beds. The views are magnificent from the top. The trip is one of exceptional contrasts.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Traveling with grace and endurance

"The surprise is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected. No, the real surprise is that God's light is more real than all the darkness, that God's truth is more powerful than all human lies, that God's love is stronger than death. "  Henri Nouwen

We travel this road of life with God's strength and endurance, knowing always that the light of His Grace surrounds us always.

Norse Peak Wilderness

New Hampshire path

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Simplicity and Purity

I love the concepts of simplicity and purity.  I just don't do it.  The closest I come in my multi-tasking life is staying in prayer wherever I may be.  Prayer moves my attention away from what I am doing and focuses it on God and others. Prayer returns me to God. 

"I am beginning to see now how radically the character of my spiritual journey will change when I no longer think of God as hiding out and making it as difficult as possible for me to find Him, but, instead, as the one who is looking for me while I am the one who is doing the hiding."  Henri Nouwen

And a photographer's note:  This picture of the monarch butterfly was taken at Michael and Sara's in New Hampshire. The butterfly lifted off just as I was ready to click the shutter while it rested on the flower. I had focused the camera on the flower and it rose in the same plane, maintaining the sharpness.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Washington DC Monuments at night

Meg and I spent five days in Washington DC last week. We attended a reunion of Peace Corps volunteers from Tonga 1 and 2.  Forty five years ago this month, Meg and I entered training in Molokai with 127 volunteers our age to train to be teachers and nurses in Tonga, islands in the South Pacific that are mere ink dots on a map. Seventy five of us went to country, and forty nine finished the entire term. Training was intense, and we really did not get to know many people very well.  And once we went to Tonga, we were scattered throughout the island villages and had very little contact with each other.  So, this first reunion of our group gave us the chance to not only establish contact, but to get to know each other again, much more deeply.

We enjoyed many group activities, including a tour of the monuments at night--one of the best tours, anywhere, that I have taken.  The night light softens the lines, and creates a timelessness and a mystery that makes these much more hallowed.  A light rain fell off and on, allowing me to preserve some unique reflections on the pavement.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The ever present Lord

Meg and I have be gone from La Grande for three weeks. We leave Washington DC late this afternoon (Monday). We spent two excellent weeks with Michael and Sara in New Hampshire where we watched fall colors begin. Amtrak then brought us from Boston to Washington DC. We have enjoyed a reunion of our Peace Corps group who trained on Molokai in later 1967, and then spent 1968/69 in Tonga, in the South Pacific. Our lives met briefly then, and briefly now. Yet that two year experience deepened and matured each of us, and provided a strong foundation to contribute to family and community in the years that have gone by. And, with that background, this four days together has been exceptionally stimulating filling in the gaps and catching up.

I have realized as well how long my own faith journey has been.  God has never ceased to travel with me, no matter how much I have ignored, rejected, forgotten Him. The Creator of the Universe cannot be absent anywhere, or we and the universe would cease to be. As the One who knows even when a sparrow falls, His Presence remains constant and continual, whether I am waking or sleeping, whether I am speaking or listening, whether I am doing or being.

Kancamagus Highway, NH

Franconia Notch, NH