In August of 1958, my father took our family to Yellowstone in our trailer. He showed me how to set it up and take care of things, and then took the bus from West Yellowstone to the Presidio for three weeks of Army reserve training. At age 15, as the oldest child, I got to be “the man of the family.” I taught my mother how to fish, and she excitedly caught three cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake. After fifty years, the memories are still strong.
The playa that forms the Alvord desert stretches out beneath Steens Mt, a marvelous fault block mountain that rises to more than ninety six hundred feet. This playa runs nine miles north/south along the Steens and stretches six miles east. Tens of thousands of years ago, a lake almost two hundred feet deep covered the playa. Now, it is intermittently covered with water depending on the season. Land sailors, car racers, bicyclists enjoy the area when it is dry.
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is located on a massive fault block ridge that ascends abruptly nearly three quarters of a mile above the Warner Valley, north of Lakeview. This remote area of of Oregon contains rugged cliffs, steep slopes, and broad sage brush and grasslands steppes. A special treat is a hot springs that is lovely to soak in. The views extend forever, and in the late spring, wildflowers of all colors dot the terrain. Memories of Indian presence are found in petroglyphs and obsidian shards.
The past is filled at best with minor regrets or frustrations, and at worst, with outright bitterness or anger. Christ does heal brokenness and gives us a new beginning, a foundation to start again and finish well. 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Anyone who belongs to Jesus Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Tilda Norberg, in her book Ashes Transformed, writes, “Even when God intervenes mightily, such as melting a tumor
or pouring miraculous spiritual comfort on breathtaking pain, healing is still a process, one that continues as long as you are alive to God’s presence. You can expect an awareness of God’s presence to break into your life many times. God continually invites you to yet another step toward wholeness.”
At this time of year, as I watch the fields and meadows awaken from winter, I once again must look at my own life and all the insignificant worries I have. Life happens under God’s direction, whether I am ready to accept His will or not. Spring, year after year after year confirms Matthew 6:26. Seeing this western bluebird in the mountain meadows near La Grande set me back firmly into that Scripture passage. All I have to do is remember it and practice it throughout all the seasons of my life.
“Our journey toward abundant living is like walking a spiritual labyrinth repeatedly, from an ever deepening space. We walk toward the center to be transformed by God’s love; then we walk outward to transform our small space in the world by reflecting God’s love. There is no intention to trick us or get us lost in the journey. But there is mystery. Always mystery. And awe. And amazing grace.” Marilyn Brown Oden
Succor Creek and Leslie Gulch, located in the far SE corner of Oregon, blend much of the “look” found at better known Zion and Bryce Canyons. The formations, particularly in Leslie Gulch, are whimsical, reminding one of Disneyland’s iconic castle. The geology is largely volcanic tuffs, ash that has been cemented together in the heat of an eruption. There is a state park campground at Succor Creek. Leslie Gulch offers primitive off road camping along the gravel road that leads to excellent fishing at the Owyhee Reservoir. In the spring, the grass is green and filled with colorful wildflowers–a visual delight complemented by the melodic voices of meadowlarks, chukar, and an occasional canyon wren.
With its cathedral like walls and spires, Leslie Gulch is a great place to focus on God’s majesty–they simply ARE, nothing more, nothing less. As Oswald Chambers writes in his May 18 commentary in “My Utmost for His Highest,”
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin”— they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars, and the moon— all of these simply are as well— yet what a ministry and service they render on our behalf! So often we impair God’s designed influence, which He desires to exhibit through us, because of our own conscious efforts to be consistent and useful. Jesus said there is only one way to develop and grow spiritually, and that is through focusing and concentrating on God.”