More and more, I am convinced how little our politicians, in this country and in the world, can do for us ordinary people. We are the ones who spread the good news of love and forgiveness, not merely by words, but by our interactions, our interconnections with our neighbors, whether we know them well or not.
Despite terrifying acts of violence we can still choose our response: to pray, to restore, to heal.
By creating us in His image, God has shown us His deep and abiding love. Together, we can outweigh, and outlast, all that distorts this image.
Stephen Gould captures this idea most eloquently:
“Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the ”ordinary” efforts of a vast majority.
“We have a duty, almost a holy responsibility, to record and honor the victorious weight of these innumerable little kindnesses, when an unprecedented act of evil so threatens to distort our perception of ordinary human behavior” Stephen Gould
“There’s no place to go to find God and no place not to go…Everyday life is where God is most active and where holiness is to be found. As Jesus Christ said, ‘the Kingdom of God is within you.’ Luke 17:21”
Fr Thomas Keating
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
“I am yours for all eternity. I am the Alpha and the Omega; the one who is and was and is to come. The world you inhabit is one of constant change—more than your mind can absorb without going into shock. Even the body you inhabit is changing relentlessly, in spite of modern science’s attempts to prolong life and youth indefinitely. I, however, am the same yesterday and today and forever.
Because I never change, your relationship with Me provides a rock solid foundation for your life. I will never leave your side. When you move on from this life to the next, My Presence beside you will shine brighter with each step. You have nothing to fear, because I am with you for all time and throughout eternity.” Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. 26 They will perish, but you remain forever; they will wear out like old clothing. You will change them like a garment and discard them. 27 But you are always the same; you will live forever. Psalm 102:25-27
“Say you are in the country, in some land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down into some dale, and leaves you there by some pool or stream. There is magic in it….Yes as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.” Herman Melville
My hiking partner, Bob, and I spent a delightful time in the high Wallowas, far from the “madding crowds.” A ten mile hike and 4000 foot elevation gain to us to the tundra country of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, where its short spring was just arriving. We have been here before, but it was the first time we caught it at the peak of its wildflowers.
“God the sculptor of the mountains; God the miller of the sands. God the jeweler of the heavens; God the potter of the lands. You are womb of all Creation. We are formless, shape us now.” John Thornburg
During these busy times of “doing” Christmas, may we all find moments to simply breathe and be the infinite Love that came to earth so many generations ago, yet still is present and moving in us today.
“Come to us, Holy and Infinite God. Expand our small hearts to make room for your unlimited love and reign in all human hearts as the Prince of Peace.” Evelyn Underhill.
There is no steeper trail in the Eagle Cap Wilderness than the one my long time hiking partner, Bob, and I took this backpack trip the last Thursday/Friday of September. Three thousand feet up in three miles! The trail to the Legore mine and the meadow above is as close to straight up as a trail can be. I had done it several times in my fifties, but at 73, with a backpack, it is much, much steeper than I remembered. What had seemed an easy ascent–and descent (going down was more treacherous than going up)–twenty years ago, was far different now.
We did 1500 feet up to Sawtooth Peak Friday morning. We saw both big horn sheep and mountain goats. Then we headed back down to camp, packed up and dropped the 3000 feet to the trailhead. (Lots of elevation for one day) I was as tired as I have ever been, but still exhilarated by what we accomplished!
Hurricane Creek. Falls Creek. Eagle Cap Wilderness
The Falls Creek trail is steep
Where we camped above the Legore mine
Hiking up the gully to the bowl below Sawtooth Peak
Embraced by memories of mountain air, sounds of the river, and visions of green meadows filled with wildflowers beneath alpine peaks, I loaded La Grande Troop 514 Scouts into the car to travel to the trailhead that leads up the East Fork of the Lostine River into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The trail requires more effort than earlier years, but the challenge makes the time and beauty all the more meaningful. I am blessed to live so close to such a special place and still have the legs to hike, albeit at a slower pace. And it was particularly fun to backpack with these older scouts who could carry more weight and prepare a gourmet dinner and breakfast—despite the mosquitoes!
Starting at the trailhead for North Catherine Creek, Meg and I backpacked to Catherine Meadows in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The six mile hike was made easier through friends who took in most of our gear on their horses and mules. High above Catherine Meadows, Meg and I celebrated with a kiss!