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”
“To walk with God is to be reassured of direction, guidance, and strength for our daily journey….This does not mean that we will be spared discouragement, disease, or death itself. It does mean that we never be alone. It means we will be given strength to meet the demands of our daily lives….It means that we will know the joy and tranquility of living in the presence of God in every circumstance of life. From fear to courage is the natural journey of all that walk with God.” Rueben Job
Spring brings out the wild turkeys as the males lure potential mates with vivid displays of tail and wing feathers and puffed out breasts. Generally the females seem indifferent. Yet to hear the males gobbling as day dawns, to see their iridescent heads and feathers, is an awesome experience. Unlike domestic turkeys who generally are satirized as being stupid, wild turkeys have acute hearing and vision. They are easily spooked, so positioning oneself for either photography or hunting must be done carefully. They can run up to 25 miles and hour and fly at speeds that approach 45 mph.
You may recall that Benjamin Franklin strongly backed the turkey as the national bird. It was a favorite food of native Americans, as well as the earlier settlers. However, their numbers plummeted over the centuries. They have been reintroduced into areas where their numbers were marginal, and planted in areas where they had not lived earlier. They are quite adaptable and are thriving across the mainland US, as well as Hawaii, and also New Zealand.