Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Eagle Cap Excursion Train

In late September, I was invited to present a photo workshop on board the Eagle Cap Excursion Train's fall excursion train.  About thirty passengers gathered in a designated.  We worked together on techniques to increase their photography skills. I also helped them with the fundamentals of their camera's operation.  A special treat was enjoying the presence of Grant McOmie, a long time television journalist.  His weekly program, "Grant's Getaways, visits unique places and excursions throughout the state of Oregon.  I was included in the program.  Here is the link to the program:

The description below, from the train's website, gives you an idea of what you see.  Enjoy the pictures.

Sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of a train ride on the Eagle Cap Excursion Train. Journey back in time on a section of the picturesque and historic Joseph Branch rail line in Northeast Oregon. Discover untamed territory as the train follows the Grande Ronde River downstream through rugged cliffs and timbered ridges, then travels up the Wild & Scenic Wallowa River. Whether you are a rail fan, a nature and wildlife enthusiast, a history buff or a vacationer looking for a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the spectacular beauty of region, a ride on the Eagle Cap Excursion Train is sure to please! The train departs from the new Elgin Depot, 300 North 8th Street, Elgin, Oregon. The depot was built in 2012 in a style reminiscent of the original historic depot. Entire cars can be reserved for groups. Charter the whole train for unforgettable special events.

Eagle Cap Excursion Train

Eagle Cap Excursion Train

Eagle Cap Excursion Train, Grande Ronde River, Rondowa

Eagle Cap Excursion Train, Rondowa, Grande Ronde River

Eagle Cap Excursion Train, Rondowa

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Let the oceans roar

Watching a storm off the Oregon coast with Meg, I was mesmerized by the power of wind and waves. I could not comprehend the surging strength of this elemental nature.  I wanted to be moving, swimming, carried in it. To think, the God who created the sea and earth also created something as small and insignificant as I. And yet, despite our infinitesimal size and strength,  He carries each of us through storms that we cannot navigate or fathom alone.

Boiler Bay OR, near Salishan OR

Boiler Bay OR near Salishan, OR

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bearing our weakness

Thomas Keating provides a dynamic insight into the hurts we carry. Rather than avoiding or hiding the pain and incompleteness we all live with, we should "simply" accept it, knowing that God knows, and through His Son, carries our burdens. And yet, I still look forward to His cleansing fire, when I will be totally purified of my past.

"...To accept our illness and whatever damage was done to us in life by people or circumstances is to participate in the cross of Christ and our own redemption.  In other words, the acceptance of our wounds is not only the beginning, but the journey itself. It does not matter if we do not finish it. If we are on the journey, we are in the KIngdom of God.

"It is bearing our weakness with compassion, patience, and without expecting all our ills to go away, that we function best in the Kingdom where the insignificant, the outcasts, and everyday life are the basic coordinates. The Kingdom is in our midst."  Fr. Thomas Keating

Wallowa Lake

Eagle Cap Wilderness

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sharing goodness

Certainly, as we read the domestic and international news, life seems to be spiraling into the abyss of chaos. We alone cannot redeem or purify the world. Yet we can pray to the One who can. We can confront our own dark side and adjust our thoughts, words, and actions to be ones of goodness and compassion, whether or not they are accepted by others. I now simply pray that the Lord's love will fall like rain on all his Creation to quench the fires of hatred and bitterness.

This prayer was found in the clothes of a dead child at the Ravensbruk women's concentration camp:

"O Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will.  But do not remember only the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember too the fruits we brought forth thanks to this suffering--our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this.  And when they come to judgement, let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness."

And, as I think of this prayer, I am reminded that the moon has risen and set for millennia, showing us eternal beauty and God's constancy, regardless of our circumstances and willingness to really appreciate Him.

Morgan Lake OR

Morgan Lake, La Grande

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Morgan Lake Fall full Moonrise

Meg and I enjoyed a serene late afternoon and early evening at Morgan Lake here in eastern Oregon.  Morgan Lake is a quiet retreat a fifteen minute drive from town at the top of the west hills above La Grande. Picnic tables and walking trails make it an ideal place to relax, and it is also regularly stocked with rainbow trout.  No motors are allowed on the lake, so paddling, either for recreation or for fishing,  is a soothing way to spend part of a day.

Indian summer produces colorful cottonwood and aspen leaves around the shore, which reflect off the lake as the wind dies down.  And, taking the time to watch a full moon silently rising is an excellent retreat for mind and soul.

Morgan Lake

Morgan Lake

Moon first appearing above Morgan Lake

Morgan Lake

Sunday, October 5, 2014

"The search for God is the project of a lifetime."

"The search for God is the project of a lifetime. It does not come at the instant of an exercise completed….Instinctively and timidly, we avoid any real encounter with God because we know it will change our lives. Oh, we go through the motions of seeking God, of  course.  But we find it very hard to believe that God is God: all knowing, all merciful, all loving, all patient.

Augustine is very clear: our God does not change.  It is we who change as time goes by.  God is God always. It is we who are so often somewhere else. After we have sought and gone through all the baubles of life, God is still there waiting for us.

After we have spent our life avoiding God, we find, when we are finally ready and willing to look, that the love of God—still alive in us—still beckons us beyond the frills and fantasies of life to meaning of what it means to be alive….The is no such thing as coming too late to God.”  

Joan Chittister, The Breath of the Soul

Eagle Cap Wilderness

Eagle Cap Wilderness