Meg and I have just returned from a great trip to the canyon country of Utah and Arizona. We took Jasmine and Marshal, our Chinese students, to this magnificent country during Eastern Oregon University’s spring break. Although the first and last days were long drives, we enjoyed many stimulating conversations, as well as listening to Meg reading CS Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
We were blessed to have the time to spend three nights at the Grand Canyon. Monday we all hiked a couple miles down the South Kaibab trail to Cedar Ridge. Meg, Jasmine and I spend several hours enjoying the play of light and shadow, as well as watching four California condors riding the thermals. Marshal hiked on down to the river and Phantom Ranch. We had the good fortune of picking up a cancellation at the Ranch for him to stay overnight in the dorm.
Tuesday, I hiked down the Bright Angel trail, beyond Indian Gardens, where I met Marshal coming back up. He was powering his way back to the top, making it up there in a little more than three hours from the Ranch. I was much slower, but I made it to the rim in reasonable time for ten plus miles at age sixty seven. It is good to still have my “legs.”
We left Wednesday morning, enjoying lingering time at several viewpoints. We finished with Wednesday sunset and Thursday sunrise light at Bryce Canyon, and great late afternoon sun at Capitol Reef Thursday.
Marshal and Jasmine were great companions and the memories will remain with them, as with us, forever.
We have all experienced a sleepless night, where worrisome thoughts take over our minds. Of course, we rarely, if ever, come up with solutions. And the sunrise is always remarkable. A new day begins, and so do we. Our minds and bodies may not be as fresh as we want them to be, but our souls embrace the light.
These two pictures were taken on the way up to Anthony Lakes, our local ski area. My last post was of sunsets. Sunrises are even better, because a whole new day stretches out before us, with all kinds of unknown opportunities.
I have been blessed to travel to Vilcabamba for five years on medical/dental mission projects with GHO. We stay at Izhcayluma, a hotel above the town that looks over and up to the cloud forest of Podocarpus National Park. Normally the forest is indeed clouded over. This year, however, the rains were late, and we enjoyed a fantastic display of light at one evening’s sunset.
Whether or not one believes in a Creator, scenes like these are a reminder of the infinitude of nature and the universe in which we live, breathe, and have our being. We breathe the same air that our long distant ancestors did, and we are irretrievably linked to past, present, and future with each other.
We intuitively know that kindness and love, toward others and ourselves, is the key to spiritual and emotional well being. Yet people–spouses, family, friends, the “world” — are so demanding and draining. God, however, is infinite and eternal. His love is a well, a spring, a river that never runs dry. As Christ tells us, when we drink of His waters, we are never thirsty. “Come, let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” Revelation 22:17. Drink FREELY. What a wonderful invitation, fulfilling what was written so long ago in Isaiah 55.
“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”
We all carry baggage and brokenness of one sort or another. Yet through love and forgiveness, recovery is possible. We can regain a childlike wonder. As children of God, given His original blessing, our lives are unique and beautiful. Whether we or society see this beauty is incidental to its existence–our Creator sees it.
And we too can see beauty in obscure and forlorn places. The purple flower was growing in a back alley of La Grande against the peeling paint of an abandoned garage. And the yellow hibiscus, growing above and beyond the barbed wire fence, bringing beauty to a dusty street yard, found sustenance in Catamayo, Ecuador.
If you are inclined, check my web site at www.praisephotography.com and click on Alleys of La Grande to see similar pictures.
a haiku for these images:
what really matters-
not my own power,prestige
But God’s constant love
The psalmist talks about our prayers, not just an occasional one but many. These prayers acknowledge and draw upon God’s unfailing love. And His mercy is not just plentiful, it is “so” plentiful; just as it should be with an infinite and eternal God!
There are many ways to shoot still lifes besides arranging fruits and flowers on a table. One of the keys is to try to simplify the complexity and isolate the subject from a busy background.
Outside of Otavolo lies a a small township, Carabuela. The roads are unpaved, dusty when dry, muddy when wet. Amidst the simple houses of mainly Quechua Indians is a small children’s center that Secondo, a Quechua native runs for children whose parents work long hours of the day. Meg and I were introduced to this center by Karen and Carlos, whose medical and mission skills serve many people and programs from Quito to the coast.
Secondo’s father and mother live in a one room house, smaller than the average American living room. There they cook over a wood fire, wash dishes by hand, sleep, and store their minimal possessions. Their real treasures of heart and love for each and their children are stored in Heaven.
Two years ago, the father also did all his weaving inside the house. Now, his work area has moved outside to a covered shed that is open in the front. He raises the sheep, shears them himself, cards the wool, spins it into yarn, dyes it and then weaves it into a variety of products. I bought an incredible heavy scarf from him. It reminds me of the contrast between his simplicity and my complications.
Day in, day out, he focuses on his wool. I have no idea how long he has been at this work. And, as you can also see,his wife is there with him, in the simple sweetness of companionship. I was truly privileged to be there.
God’s call to us is deeply personal. We are His Beloved, always held in His heart, yet we don’t always recognize His Presence in ourselves and others. We are finite beings being drawn toward His infinity and eternity.