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.”
I love the profoundly honest plea of the psalmist in Psalm 25. I commend your reading it. From despair to hope, from past to future, he speaks of his deep need for the totality of God in his life. He knows how vulnerable he is to the vagaries of his own and, of society’s, nature. He realizes that without the constancy of God’s love, guidance, companionship and forgiveness, he is lost.
How wonderful that we all have mothers. More than a mere biological fact, each of needs the nurturing model our mothers have provided. Even though their love sometimes frustrated us when it was not given or received in the way we wanted or expected, that love is fundamental to who we are. Only our mothers know our full history; they were with us from the beginning. My mother could recall so many stories of my growing up. Often it seemed that I had to listen to those stories longer than I wanted to. Yet when she died in 2002, I realized that now I was an historical orphan; familial recollection/reflection was gone from this earthly life, and now was held by God alone.
“Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.” Phillips Brooks, author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and famed nineteenth century preacher.
Wow, if only I could totally live within these thoughts. The words make so much sense, but too often I let myself be confined by my mind’s limitations, instead of God’s expansive love.
Obscure by Oregon geography standards, the Zumwalt Prairie in the extreme northeast corner of Oregon represents a wonderfully diverse ecological niche. As set out in the book, “The Prairie Keepers” by Marcy Houle, this area demonstrates how ranchers and grazing and wildlife “not only can coexist, but in some instances must coexist.” A single gravel road accesses these thousands and thousands of acres, where nature and silence have scarcely been disturbed from time immemorial. Whether one photographs, reads, or meditates, the silence makes its own music.
“We lost sight of our original union with God and the continuing call to be like God. In fact, we became so busy keeping out of hell that we forgot that we were on our way to heaven. We started loving God for the gifts we would receive or the punishment we would avoid.
“But is that truly love? What about the wonder and the possibility of being simply and utterly in love, the only reason being that once before a burning bush the One Who Is said, “I Am Who I Am.” The bush still burns. What about our love? How bright is our flame?” Macrina Wiederkehr, “A Tree Full of Angels”