Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge


Time is our most precious commodity. It slips away so quickly, whether we are busy working or playing. We want more of it, but few of us know how much we really have. And when we receive an unexpected abundance, we tend to waste it—at least I know I do.Dogwood







Yet there are days when time seems to stand still. I look at the blue sky and hear the robin singing in the dogwood tree, the chickadees chittering away near the bird feeder. I feel the gentle breeze on my face. I smell the sweet scent of the pinks that grew from starts given me by a former neighbor, now passed on to eternity.


PinksEternity seems only a thin veil away as I walk through the green woods or stand on a cliff, surveying the forest below, the mountains in the distance. I feel God’s breath on me as I drink in the beauty. And I wonder: if this is a fallen world, what must heaven be like? Heaven, when time will no longer matter.Trillium Lake

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Sunset, 2012The year comes to an end as the sun sets, a little brightness showing through the gray clouds. Isn’t that how it seems to go? So much bad news in the paper each day, so many sad stories online, so much anger and despair in the world. And yet still the light shines through, giving color and beauty, bringing hope. One year fades into the sunset, but dawn comes again with the brightness of a new day. Another chance. Let’s make the most of it.

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The years just keep rolling along, and spring arrives, more or less on schedule, about this time every year–and about six months earlier or later in the southern hemisphere–moving around the world and never holding still for long. We get a couple of days of warm weather, and everyone is out mowing lawns, some for the first time this year. Pollen is in the air, fertilizing trees and flowers, bringing sneezes and congestion to the allergy-prone. Smiles spring up with the flowers and sunshine.

Dreams of vegetable gardens and flower beds stir in my head. Perhaps this year I will keep the garden weeded. Perhaps this year I will get everything planted on time. Perhaps this year…

In the springtime, all is possible. Soon enough reality will set in, and I will remember how hard it is to keep up with flowers and vegetables and, most of all, weeds. But for today, I prefer to hold on to my fantasies. Springtime is a time for dreaming.

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Is it really Spring? The calendar says so, and yet I wonder. The other day the wind whipped through the branches, and dark gray clouds swept across the sky. The lone varied thrush that spent the winter here still pecked at sunflower seeds under the bird feeder. Shouldn’t it have flown north by now? And back East, snow was falling.

 And yet daffodils are in bloom. The first tentative blossoms are opening on our early rhododendron. Flowering trees in the neighborhood are bursting into pink and white. The signs are there—perhaps a bit later than last year, but definitely there.

 As I drove to the store, I looked up to see a flock of ducks or geese—hard to tell which when I’m trying to keep my eyes on the road. I immediately wondered if they were flying north. As I glanced up, I could see the flock constantly changing shape as some birds dropped back and other birds led briefly. Nobody seemed to want the leadership. Instead the flock drifted about in a big circle, going nowhere in particular.

 I guess it’s that time of year. Winter hasn’t quite left; spring hasn’t quite arrived. We are stuck in the middle, not sure what to expect. But we have hope. Spring will come. That much we know from experience. Although it may be hard to believe on cold, dark, dreary days, Earth is still revolving about the Sun, and the seasons continue in their usual pattern. We can have faith that warmer, sunnier days are on their way.

 And for my southern hemisphere friends, that means fall is coming—and I hope it brings a refreshing coolness after summer heat. Up here in the cold North, we would be happy to trade places, at least briefly.

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Vine Maple

Autumn paints so many trees in bright gold, orange, and red. However, my favorite—and one of the earliest to change around here—is the vine maple. When we drive through the hills or up to Mt. Hood in September, the yellow and red of vine maple leaves peek through the dark evergreen firs and the other deciduous trees still wearing summer green. They add a spark of brightness to the forest, a hint of changes to come.

 The end of summer brings a trace of sadness, as warm days fade and autumn rains begin. Thoughts of a cold, wet Oregon winter play through my mind. But those vivid vine maple leaves chase away dismal memories and remind me that fall is a beautiful time of year. And after fall comes Christmas. After that—well, no need to think ahead too much. Why fret about winter when the woods dazzle my eyes with color?

 Colors add so much to life. Springtime greens and yellows, summer flowers and blue skies, autumn leaves. Even winter holds a few lingering holly berries and the bright yellow of the winter jasmine grown from starts my grandmother gave me. When life’s storms come, these bits of brightness give hope. And so I share the colors of the vine maple and the promise it gives that change can be beautiful.

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Beach Clouds

Had it really been months since I’d been to the coast? It almost felt like coming home as I walked down the street to the roar of surf in the distance. The open sand and expansive sky beckoned me. Amazingly enough, the sky arched blue and clear overhead. Only a few wispy clouds drifted above the ocean, and a thin layer of gray hovered over the hills behind me, still hiding the early morning sun.

 Slowly the earth turned, and the sun began poking through the dark layer of clouds. Fingers of light stretched across the sand. Brightness shone out from behind the darkness, reflecting on the wet sand. Hope shining through pain, bringing peace with its beauty.

 Later, clouds began to move in from the east. Altocumulus clouds, puffy little bits of gray-white, spread across the sky like patches of cotton. Rain would likely be coming—the forecast had predicted it—but these clouds only brought more beauty. Calm, dry weather is a precious thing on the Oregon coast, and I basked in the glory of sun, clouds, and ocean. The cool air, the smell of sea, the play of clouds and sunshine: all brought with them a love too great to be overwhelmed by any darkness.

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As the last shriveled Gravensteins fall from our tree, something unexpected is happening. The apple tree is blossoming. Sweet white flowers are opening up here and there on the tree—not the full-fledged bloom of spring, but something I have never seen at the end of summer. What is going on here?

 Perhaps it’s the odd weather we have had. Cool, damp weather hung on until July. Then we had a week or two of summer, before cool mornings returned, followed by pleasant, but not particularly summery afternoons. I have had to close the windows at night recently, something I rarely do in summer. Perhaps this weather has confused the poor apple tree into believing that spring returned ahead of schedule.

 Still, I rather like the contrast of fresh new blossoms coexisting with shriveled old apples. For those of us who are closer to autumn than spring—okay, maybe already into autumn—it gives an offbeat message of hope. Life needn’t be all dried-up apples. New ideas, new projects, new avenues for creativity can come into our lives at any age. What new blossoms might I nourish in my life?

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