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Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Scotch broom A warm, sunny spring day when my work shift is unexpectedly cancelled. What better thing to do than go bike riding on a nearby trail? From our place it’s a short drive into beautiful downtown Boring, a two-block long town which recently became sister cities with Dull, Scotland. Past the only gas station into the gravel parking lot, empty at the moment. Nice. We unload our bikes, strap on our helmets, and hit the trail.

Very little pedaling is required on the trail in, as it is almost all downhill. Sunlight sparkles through the mossy trees and lights up the Scotch broom along the trail. I make mental notes on where to stop for photos on the way back. That is when I will need the rest that photo breaks can give.End of Cazadero Trail

We pass a family walking their dogs down toward Deep Creek, but we keep going to the end of the gravel trail. Climb through the wooden fence to look down on the stream below, glittering in the afternoon sun. As we return to our bikes, a man comes down the trail, riding on a fancy recumbent bike, complete with windshield, blinkers, and saddlebags. He’s already gone over twenty miles today and has several still to go. More ambitious than I will ever be.

TrilliumWe start back, slowly now. Pedaling uphill is more work, and I take my time, enjoying the scenery, stopping to photograph flowers, moss-covered trees, and whatever else catches my eye. We take a side trail down to the creek. Trilliums and ferns line the shady dirt path. The air smells fresh, the bubbling water is clear and bright. We skirt the family with the dogs, giving them their privacy. Stand for a few minutes drinking in the spring greenness. Then back up to the main trail and more pedaling, as my face reddens with the effort. Ah, why must exercise be so much work? Still, the beauty makes it all worthwhile.Deep Creek and mossy trees

Stop and smell the roses, the saying goes. And look at the wildflowers in bloom, feel the sunshine on your face, hear the splashing brook. Look and see the beauty that God has made, and drink it all in. Let it fill you up with joy. This world can bring much pain and confusion, but here in the woods, I find the peace I need to keep going.

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Kittens and Babies

grandson1 I read once that the reason babies are so cute is for their own protection. They can be so demanding and so noisy and so much work, but then they smile, and the whole world is beautiful. Same thing for baby animals. What could be cuter than a fuzzy little puppy or a teeny furry kitten with those huge eyes staring up at you so innocent and all?Fiona1

Anyone who has owned a puppy or a kitten knows they can be far from innocent. In December we acquired little Fiona. She was a tiny thing, runt of the litter, so sweet and cuddly. We fell in love with her. But every morning and evening—and a few other times a day—she morphs into something possessed. She tears across the room and across anything in her path—chairs, tables, couches, piano, computer—at breakneck speed, barely pausing for breath. She scratches the chairs, chews up any pens left on the table, zips between our legs as we try to walk. In the morning we find evidence she has been on the kitchen counters, even the refrigerator, and who knows where else?

Feisty FionaHowever, after each wild spree she finally winds down, out of energy. She jumps on my lap, stretches up to sniff my nose, and looks at me with those big, beautiful eyes. And I smile back at her and mutter, “Kitten, you would be in so much trouble if you weren’t so dang cute!”

What can I do? She’s effectively squirmed her way into our lives, and we adore the little beast. That’s how it goes with kittens.Fiona2

Of course, kittens are nothing compared to grandbabies. Want to hear about my grandson? I have a couple hundred pictures I can show you. I’d have even more if he didn’t live clear across the country. I swear he’s just about the cutest baby that ever lived. You sure you don’t want to see some more pictures??

grandson2Kittens and babies: you’ve got to love them!

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Falls Creek, WAWe’d been camping for three days without cell phone reception. The campground was gorgeous with tall, mossy cedars and maples. A melodic stream rushed past the campsites. Yet I had a hard time adjusting. It took me three days to finally feel comfortable being out-of-touch. And even that acceptance might have been related to the fact that we would be leaving the next day.

Why do I feel such a strong need to be connected? Well, what if our sons needed something? Sure, they’re grown and have moved far away, but still, you never know. What if I have an email waiting, asking me to take on a new work project or a business trip? If I didn’t answer promptly, I could lose out. Someone else might get that trip to Sacramento or San Antonio.Falls Creek Trail, WA

How did we ever manage in the good, old, days? Hubby and I used to take off camping for two or more weeks at a time back before the invention of cell phones. We might call our parents once during the trip to check in, but generally we just sent postcards. One time we returned home to discover that my mother had spent two days in the hospital. Thankfully, she had been released and was doing much better by then, but it gave me a scare. Would we have cut our vacation short had we known? Maybe, maybe not, but we definitely would have called more often. I’m glad we have cell phones now, so the communication is easier.

Hummocks Trail, WAYet sometimes it is good to disconnect. In the stillness of the woods I can relax and feel closer to God, feel more a part of nature, and open myself up to awe and wonder. I can relax from the stress of daily life, including the stress of trying to keep up with my email and text messages. I can just be me. The world of people can somehow manage without me for a few days, and the likelihood I will return home to urgent phone calls and emails is small.

In a way, disconnecting is actually re-connecting. As I step back from the hassles of my daily life into the greenness of towering maples and the enchantment of birdsong, I connect with my soul, I connect with God. An empty well within me fills to overflowing with joy and peace, as the living water pours through me. Pond, Hummocks Trail, WA

How could I forget how much I need the woods?

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Foggy morningI hate goodbyes. I dropped my son off at the airport this morning, knowing I would probably not see him again until next Christmas. We hugged, and I watched him pull his suitcase toward the revolving doors. Around me, other people hugged their goodbyes, grasping that last touch, one final memory to hold them until next time.

Why do kids have to grow up and move away? I remember how excited I was when I went away to college. Did my mother cry as they drove away from my freshman dorm? Did a hole open in her heart that only my return could mend? I never thought about it much at the time; I was too busy living my own life.Son and husband

At my age, goodbyes become more common. A little over a year ago I whispered goodbye to my father as he lay silent in a hospital bed, his spirit perhaps already flown. That farewell was even more wrenching, tinged with the knowledge that I wouldn’t see him again until eternity.

sun shining through the fogAnd yet I go on. The sun shines through the fog and brightens the morning. I smile through my tears. Tomorrow my husband and I will be the ones leaving, off to see our other son and his wife. The hugs will be ones of gladness, as we reconnect after many months. The time will be all the more precious due to its brevity.

At the end of every hello is a goodbye. It’s just how life works. But the pain carves passageways for joy, and every farewell increases my longing for that day when goodbyes will be no more.

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Mt. Rainier, river

Our last day at Mt. Rainier was like so many fall days in the Pacific Northwest—wet and gray. Clouds moved in, muting the greens of moss and leaves, the reds and blues of berries, the gold of fall’s last blossoms. I hid my camera in my pack, bringing it out only briefly to capture some quick moment of beauty.

Mt. Rainier, vine maple

raindrops on huckleberry bushes, Mt. RainierWhen the rain stopped for a bit, I ventured out again. Firs towered over me, grown tall in the moist soil. The river rushed by, energized by the added water. And all around me, pictures of nature’s magnificence in miniature beckoned. In the days past we had enjoyed the grand vistas—wide, blue lakes, majestic peaks, hills rising above the fog. Today I focused in on the little things.

Mt. Rainier, lichens

Leaves speckled with raindrops. Oregon grape nestled against a tree trunk. Lacy leaf patterns in the vine maple. Miniscule forests of fungi. Amazing beauty that is so easy to miss in our hurried lives.

Mt. Rainier, Oregon grapeGray days can be depressing. Clouds surround me and the rain beats upon me, forcing my eyes downward. However, if I keep my eyes open, I can still discover those small blessings that make each day special.

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WHigh Prairie Trail, Mt. Hoode’d been spending too much time at home working. I was feeling restless. Where should we go? Mt. Hood is always nice this time of year. It’s a bit early for black flies, and the alpine meadows are filled with flowers. So recently my husband and I headed up for a hike to Lookout Mountain on the east side of Mt. Hood.Lookout Mountain 105

We bumped over miles of washboard gravel road to reach the trail head at High Prairie. “Keeps the tourists away,” we said optimistically. And it appeared to be true, as there were only a couple of cars in the parking area. As predicted, the meadow was awash with color—white and yellow daisy-type flowers, Indian paintbrush, and more. We took the trail to the right, as recommended in the guide book. It was a wise decision. View after view of the mountaintop—only seven miles away—opened up as we hiked along. One place a field of red lava rocks added to the mountain view.Lookout Mountain 049

Lookout Mountain 039As we neared the high point, ghostly white tree trunks twisted in tortured shapes, bent by the wind. New kinds of flowers appeared. And talk about views! From the top, where a fire lookout used to stand, we could see mountains all around: St. Helens, Adams, Rainier to the north; Jefferson and the Three Sisters to the south.

Oval Lake, near Lookout MountainWe continued down—and I do mean down, with the path a bit steep in places—to Oval Lake, a couple of miles farther along. A scenic little lake where the deep quiet echoed softly in my ears. There we rested for what I knew would be a grueling uphill slog back to Lookout Mountain, before we hit the downhill path back to the truck. My fears proved true, for me at least. My husband, a runner, patiently waited for me during my frequent rest breaks.

Lookout Mountain, Mt. HoodWe took the old road from the lookout back to the truck—not as scenic as the way up, but a pleasant downhill stroll back to the bright meadow where we began. But now with tired legs, a camera full of pictures, and the peace that comes from spending time in God’s creation. Sometimes I forget, in the busy days of life, how much I need quiet, green places and towering mountains. At Lookout Mountain my soul was fed.     Lookout Mountain 060

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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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