Yesterday morning (Wednesday) provided us some delightful wildlife viewing. The turkeys are messy, and not particularly welcome, but we nonetheless enjoy seeing the mamas and their many, many offspring sweetly clucking their way through the yard. And these large bucks show how healthy city fed deer can be!
Seventeen Scouts, ages ten and half to eighteen, along with seven adults, spent three days rafting the Grande Ronde river this past Friday through Sunday. We rented five boats. The river was low, slow, and challenging.– lots of obscured rocks that needed to be maneuvered around and between. However, all went well and the boys learned about “reading” the river, and rowing.
They cooked dutch oven meals for both dinner and breakfast. We had four cooking groups and the boys did a wonderful job working together. Their cooperation and collegiality was a joy to behold. They were supportive of each other, and the few conflicts were minor. This is the third river trip we have done in the past four years. I have enjoyed watching boys grow into young men.
When Meg and I arrived in La Grande in 1970. we had no idea we were coming to an area with alpine scenery within an hour’s drive. We had imagined eastern Oregon as sage brush country. Instead, we have lived in a beautiful river valley for forty five years, enjoying a wide range of outdoor activities that we can reach in less than a couple hours.
Anthony Lake, here in NE Oregon, spans Union and Baker Counties. Our sons learned to ski here, and we have enjoyed the hiking and rock climbing these alpine mountains offer. On Sunday, after church, we left for a wonderful afternoon of cross country skiing in sunshine after a fresh snow fall. Silence and awe surrounded us.
Eighteen Scouts slept in their snow shelters last Friday night up at the Anthony Lakes area of NE Oregon. Their gear was appropriate to the weather conditions–18 degrees and light snow–so they enjoyed a comfortable night. Many of these boys were barely eleven years old, yet their enthusiasm lasted the entire time, and they were most proud of their accomplishment. And I, at the other end of the age spectrum, enjoyed sleeping out in a tree well inside a bivy sack, underneath the tree boughs.
Saturday morning they competed in Scout skill events, as well as fun challenges based on a medieval knight theme–a catapult to knock over buckets, a jousting where they held a long light pole to thrust through a small hole as they were being pushed on a sledge, a bridge to knock their opponent off of.
We had enough scouts for three patrols. One patrol finished first, so naturally there was extra excitement. These opportunities are unique skill and confidence builders–lessons and memories to last a lifetime.
BSA Troop 514 spent this past Saturday and Monday constructing snow shelters at Mud Lake, opposite the ski area at Anthony Lake, OR. We had 16 Scouts hard at work on both days. Many of them had just joined the troop in January, and were only fifth graders, but their enthusiasm, stamina and work ethic was outstanding. The snow was not too deep, so we had to forgo building our usual snow caves. Instead we made trenches with sleeping platforms and covered the trenches with tarps. So, we are protected from the weather, but need to dress warmly for the cold. We will sleep in them this Friday night, and then participate in the annual Klondike Derby on Saturday.
Certainly, as we read the domestic and international news, life seems to be spiraling into the abyss of chaos. We alone cannot redeem or purify the world. Yet we can pray to the One who can. We can confront our own dark side and adjust our thoughts, words, and actions to be ones of goodness and compassion, whether or not they are accepted by others. I now simply pray that the Lord’s love will fall like rain on all his Creation to quench the fires of hatred and bitterness.
This prayer was found in the clothes of a dead child at the Ravensbruk women’s concentration camp:
“O Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill will. But do not remember only the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember too the fruits we brought forth thanks to this suffering–our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this. And when they come to judgement, let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.”
And, as I think of this prayer, I am reminded that the moon has risen and set for millennia, showing us eternal beauty and God’s constancy, regardless of our circumstances and willingness to really appreciate Him.
Meg and I enjoyed a serene late afternoon and early evening at Morgan Lake here in eastern Oregon. Morgan Lake is a quiet retreat a fifteen minute drive from town at the top of the west hills above La Grande. Picnic tables and walking trails make it an ideal place to relax, and it is also regularly stocked with rainbow trout. No motors are allowed on the lake, so paddling, either for recreation or for fishing, is a soothing way to spend part of a day.
Indian summer produces colorful cottonwood and aspen leaves around the shore, which reflect off the lake as the wind dies down. And, taking the time to watch a full moon silently rising is an excellent retreat for mind and soul.
Troop 514 recently enjoyed its annual rock climbing event. We leave early Saturday morning and drive to Anthony Lake, a delightful alpine lake less than an hour distance. We then backpack up to a higher lake where we camp. The boys day hike and then cook a variety on one pot meals as patrols. In the morning, under the guidance of experienced climbers, the Scouts enjoy excellent rock climbing and rappelling, The first time Scouts are usually a bit tentative in their approach to the granite wall, but after they try it once, they are exuberantly head up again, pleased with their new self confidence and sense of adventure.
Anthony lake, Union County
Troop 514, learning to rappel
Troop 514 rock climbing
Troop 514, finding traction
Troop 514, climbing wall above Anthony and Hoffer Lakes
Regardless of with whom or without whom we journey through life, our thought life is never mindless.
“At no time of day or night are we not thinking about something. The only real question is, What is it? What do I choose to ruminate about in the interstices of the day, in the dark quiet of the night? Where does my mind go when there is nowhere specific for it to go?
The questions is an important one because its answer defines the kind of person we are choosing to become….The fact is, we become what we think about. What we seed in our souls grows in us, forms us, becomes what drives us from moment to moment.
Prayer intends to steep me in the thoughts of God….If I pray for my enemies, if I pray to a loving God to make me loving too, however many years it takes–it will happen. Then, like a drop of rain in the midst of the sea, I will become part of the heart of the world. I must pray to become love.”