Saturday, December 29, 2012

Called always to be renewed

On the cusp of a New Year, now ten years removed from retirement, I am grateful for my slow but steady transformation from professional position and power to God's purpose and presence.  I yearn ever more deeply for a closer, more intimate, more intense relationship with Him who is the Source/Savior of all being.  As always, the challenge remains letting go of my "things."  These prayers from Evelyn Underhill, and the passages from Hebrews, set the tone and hope for me.

"So seldom, Omnipotent and In Dwelling Spirit, am I aware of your presence in my life, yet I have no life apart from you; give me the confident trust in your power, presence, and purpose."

"Holy and life giving Lord, you accept us as we are, but call us to be what we never could have imagined; let us never forget the possibility you reveal or be content with less than you have shown us."

New Hampshire

Ohope Scenic Reserve

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Carols with New Zealand scenes

As Meg and I enjoy Christmas day in coastal New Zealand sunshine, we think of our friends who are making their Christmas eve day preparations. We enjoy our memories of Christmas at home and making memories here with Matt and his family.  We are blessed to be able to live in two worlds.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Pohutukawa, New Zealand;s Christmas Tree

The pohutukawa grows best by the sea along New Zealand's North Island.  Massive, dome shaped branches and powerful roots pressed deeply down into rocky sea coast cliffs, allow it to withstand storms that blow in from the ocean.  The pohutukawa belongs to the myrtle family, which includes the eucalyptus. The botanical name for this tree is Metrosideros excelsa, an apt name which translate as "iron heartwood sublime," an apt description for  the strength and beauty of New Zealand,  Crimson blossoms burst forth on trees along the shore and on hills above in December, giving it the name of the New Zealand Christmas tree.

The tree has inspired a Christmas carol. A couple of the pictures I have posted contain the lyrics. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In the fulness of time

One of the greatest benefits of being away from home at Christmas, besides the time with family here in New Zealand, is the lack of pressure to get all the traditional Christmas tasks done--the cards and letters to read and respond to, the social gatherings to attend, the demands to be present for society's expectations instead of God's Presence. This is not to say that we don't have distractions here. Yet we are now freed from our "traditions" and are more able to wait patiently, to focus on what is Now, to see the "first rays of God's glorious coming."  And to enjoy an expanded feeling of "stillness." 

Mackenzie Lake, Routeburn Track, South Island, NX

Mt Lyttle

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Routeburn Track, Day Three

trail heading downward
Routeburn memories follow
forever present

Routeburn Falls

Routeburn Falls

Routeburn Falls Lodge, View from our room window

Trail through silver beech

Routeburn=Route River

Leaving the Lodge and hiking through Hobbit Country

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Absorbed in God's song

I love these theme in Psalm 147 of being absorbed in God's song.  As Meg and I hiked this Routeburn Track, we were reminded once again that God is both in the vastness of His sky and mountains, and in the smallness of His flowers.  And we are His children, ever part of His eternal love.  

Once again, Henri Nouwen says it well, "one thing we know for sure about oour God: our God is a God the the living, not the dead.  God is life. God is love. God is beauty. God is goodness. God is truth.  God doesn't want us to die. God wants us to life.  Our God, who loves us from eternity to eternity, wants to give us life for eternity through the Son who is God's Word incarnate, who came to earth to reveal dramatically Who God is."

Routeburn Track, NZ. Harris Lake

Mt Cook lily. Meg hiking toward Harris Saddle

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Routeburn Track, Day Two

Meg and I and our small group of hikers left the Mackenzie Lake Lodge midmorning on the second day of our hike.  We hiked through red birch forest until we reached the open country above the lake.  Then the trail continued upwards, far above the Hollyford River which flowed into the Pacific Ocean barely visible in the distance. Lunch was at Harris Saddle, a divide that separated the peaks between us and Milford Sound and Harris Lake, out of which the Routeburn flows.  Vistas were as vast as the day before, and each step, a moment of wonder.

Above Lake Mackenzie

Harris Saddle

Mackenzie Lake

Ocean Peak and Emily Peak

Maori onion

Mt Cook Lily, really a buttercup

Mt Lyttle

Trail out of Mackenzie Lake

Routeburn Falls Lodge and river valley below

Meg hiking through birch forest in hopes of Hobbits

The Routeburn Track, Day One

Meg and I left Ohope on Monday, NZ time, and flew to Queenstown on South Island.  From there, we joined a group of three additional hikers and two guides, and enjoyed one of the premier hikes I have ever done.  "Burn" actually is the Scottish word for river, and the route follows high above several rivers before dropping down into the Routeburn itself.

This hike has been rated in the top fifteen of the world by National Geographic.  The views of the peaks are awe inspiring, and the trail through quiet, ethereal beech and fern stretches the imagination.  The trail is about twenty five miles, and traverses both Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks.  We did it in three days, each one unique and lovely.

Earland Falls

Key Summit

Mt Lyttle

Mackenzie Lake

Hiking into the Lake MacKenzie Lodge

Guides for Ultimate Hikes

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Called back

Henri Nouwen writes, "I trust in you, Lord, but keep helping me in my many moments of distrust and doubt. They are there and will be every time I turn my eyes, ears, or hands away from you.  Please, Lord, keep calling me back to you, by day and by night, in joy and in sadness, during moments of success and moments of failure. Never let me leave you.  I know you walk with me.  Help me walk with you today, tomorrow, and always."

Over the years I have I come to realize how amazing God is:  I think I am seeking Him, whereas He is always seeking me.  Indeed, He is the good shepherd who seeks all of us who have gone false, separate directions!

Ohope Beach sunrise, North Island, NZ

Below Hat Point in Hells Canyon, OR