Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Wonderful Oregon Cascade Mountains (Revised)

I recently completed a two-day trip from Dallas, Oregon to Sisters, Redmond, Bend and then back through Sisters traveling the old McKenzie Highway 242. Then I headed north on Hwy 126 to Hwy 20 and then to Sweet Home, Lebanon, Albany and home.

Thanks to a gift from my son several years ago I had a digital camera that should have made it possible to take excellent photos to document my adventure. Unfortunately, one needs a steadier hand and an ability to understand what the camera icons were all about in order to produce the best quality. (Yes, I read the instruction book. Memory fades more quickly these days so it didn’t really help.)

However, after taking nearly 100 photos I have selected the better ones for a slide show so you can travel along with me. I will not try to give you a photo-by-photo narrative. It is the picture that counts anyway. Hope you will enjoy my adventure. And, if you haven’t come to Oregon yet, you are invited to visit.

 Click here  or copy and paste the link below to your browser address line (and hopefully you will now be able to view the photos without getting "permission").

Monday, September 1, 2014

Come Take A Walk With Me

Before moving to Dallas, Oregon in March 2013 one of my favorite places to take a walk was the Tualatin Hills Nature Park.  I wrote an article about those walks for this blog in July 2011. [1]  Now I have another regular trail which I take every day, weather permitting.  It takes about a half hour each morning to cover the mile and a half.  It took awhile to develop the habit of walking daily again as a part of my fitness program.  Some days the muscles and joints handle the journey more easily than at other times, but once the habit was re-established; the results for me physically were worth it.

The pathway along Rickreal Creek was extended for quite a way since I moved here.  Sometimes I follow the length of the trail on my bicycle and other times I take the shorter mile and a half walk.  During the summer months the stream is almost dry.  During the winter and spring rainy periods it flows heavily making the walk even more pleasurable.

I usually meet some “regulars” during the walk.  Most of the folks in my age range are walking their dogs.  The younger folks, of course, are getting a jog in before heading to work.


LaCreole Drive runs north/south.  (It took me a month of Sundays to get my bearings as to direction!)  It still seems that south is west.  My walk takes me south on LaCreole past the middle school and down to the Dallas Aquatic Center and park.  To vary my walk I sometimes go around the ball park and aquatic center, under the bridge and then back home.
So this is part of my effort of seeking to stay as fit as I can, at least in terms of those things I can actually do something about.  I also participate in the Silver Sneakers fitness program twice a week.  It is not as good as the program I took under the tutelage of Jacqueline Sinke at the Stuhr Senior Center in Beaverton, but it keeps me moving.

Home at last.  Thanks for walking with me this morning!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Comforting Peace

It seems to me there are an unusually high number of people in transition right now.   I have noticed in posts to Facebook by my friends, or friends of friends, of loved ones in the process of moving on in life’s adventure.  Of course, the news is full of the almost daily deaths due to gun violence, much of it hitting closer to home than we ever imagined it would.

This challenges us in many ways.  We all know that the time will come for each of us.  Some of us are prepared to “be there” for our loved ones as they move closer to the time of parting from us physically.  Somehow we have found the love and strength to abide in the “peace that passes understanding.”  Still, it is never really easy to voice our final farewell.

When a tragedy of some sort comes unexpectedly, we are seldom ready.  At times such as that instinct often takes over and we are numbed to the tasks at hand that we must attend to.  We are enabled to move through the experience deciding, acting, and comforting others as necessary.  When the immediacy of the need passes, we may fall into our own quiet oblivion while we find our personal healing and renewal.  Perhaps these words from a man who was my mentor and my friend will encourage and strengthen you in your time of need as it has me many times.

I Am There

By James Dillet Freeman
Poet Laureate Of Unity

Do you need me?
I am there.
You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by.
You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice.
You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands.
I am at work, though you do not understand My ways.
I am, at work, though you do not recognize my works.
I am not strange visions.  I am not mysteries.
Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me as I am, and then, but as a feeling and a faith.
Yet I am there. Yet I hear. Yet I answer.
When you need Me, I am there.
Even if you deny Me, I am there.
Even when you feel most alone, I am there.
Even in your fears, I am there.
Even in your pain, I am there.
I am there when you pray and when you do not pray.
I am in you, and you are in Me.
Only in you mind can you feel separate from Me, for only in your mind are the mists of “yours” and “mine.”
Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me.
Empty your heart of empty fears.
When you get yourself out of the way, I am there.
You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all.
And I am in all.
Though you may not see the good, good is there, for I am there.
I am there because I have to be, because I am.
Only in Me does the world have meaning; only out of Me does the world take form; only because of Me does the world go forward.
I am the law on which the movement of the stars and the growth of living cells are founded.
I am the love that is the law’s fulfilling.
I am assurance.
I am peace.
I am oneness.
I am the law that you can live by.
I am the love that you can cling to.
I am your assurance.
I am your peace.
I am one with you.
I am.
Though you fail to find Me, I do not fail you.
Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never wavers, because I know you because I love you.
Beloved, I am there.

(A copy of “I Am There” is now on the moon . . .carried
there on the Apollo XV voyage by Astronaut James B. Irvin,
and left on the moon for future space voyagers)

Monday, May 26, 2014

I “Like” Your Facebook Post

In a way I rather dislike admitting it, but hitting the “Like” icon on Facebook seemingly is the main, if not the only, way I connect with other people these days.

Sometimes I feel irritated about that.  People are more important than that.  Whatever happened to actually talking with someone?  Admittedly, I am the worst offender when it comes to that form of connecting.  My telephone usage is usually less than an hour a month, and even that time is related to “business.”

Then comes along those Facebook posts of my great grandchildren and I melt into a blob!  I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to “Like” your post!

Locations, geographically, are far apart so being able to share your lives on Facebook is, for the time being, my access to you. 

These Facebook posts of photos of my newest great granddaughter, Arianna, with her mother, Kristin, and the group with my other great grandchildren, Izzy and Teddy, with their mother, Becky, mean the world to me.

Facebook posts brought these family members right into my home and heart!

For whatever else I might think about Facebook at times, I Like Your Facebook Post and am glad to have them (and each of you).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Journey of Being Alive

I am not sure when it happened, but this morning I became aware that it had.

I am sitting on the sidelines of life.  I have become a spectator.  I am not even commenting currently on what I see or sense.

Wow!  Never thought this day would come.

Living alone for over 20 years can cause one to become introspective and reclusive.

Again, I don’t know exactly when it happened.  I just know that it did.

There is no rule that I know of that says you have to become withdrawn and lonely simply because you are alone.  Circumstances are not what make us who we are or do whatever it is that we do—or don’t do. 

What I believe I have come to realize is that I have allowed myself to respond to circumstances with an increasing degree of skepticism and frustration over not being able to change things more to my liking.

Then, some days after penning the words above, I discovered in the words of one of my favorite authors, Mark Nepo, in The Book of Awakening a kindred spirit.  He told of a poetry reading he was doing in New York City when he encountered an angry young man that had just witnessed a woman being mugged.  The young man was so angry he wrote a poem on the spot.  Another person attending the event called out, “Yeah, it sure beats stopping the mugging.”  Mark went on to write:

The story points up, painfully, how living in our thoughts removes us from the very real journey of being alive.  To always analyze and problem solve and observe and criticize what we encounter turns our brains into heavy calluses.  Rather than opening us deeper into the mystery of living, the over-trained intellect becomes a buffer from experience.

Well, those thoughts immediately clicked for me.  For a number of years I have been observing from the sidelines, analyzing the variety of events that puzzle and upset many of us.  My way of dealing with the upset was to write critically, often, about those events and the all too apparent lack of judgment being expressed by others.   This process is not living.  It is observing. It is judging.  Seldom, if ever, will we find satisfaction in simply observing and criticizing events.  It makes no difference, really, if our judgments are sound.  Making a difference comes from what one does, not what one sees.

Here is where I can tell myself that I have had many years of actively engaging in life during my careers, first as a minister and later as an employee of a Fortune 500 company.  In both of these careers I found ways to move my observations into actions that helped change some conditions.  The doing of whatever I could brought a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Unfortunately, following retirement, my doing was mostly limited to writing about my observations.  Of course, I believe my writing was an appropriate way for me to move beyond simply being discontented with events.  Still, as time has proceeded I have been less satisfied that writing has served a broader useful purpose.  That is why I suddenly had the realization that I had become a bystander.  In some respects I was not much different from the young man who wrote an angry poem about a woman being mugged rather that attempting to stop the mugging.

I suppose I am expected to say here that not everyone should jump into the fray and try to physically set things right.  That does not satisfy me in the least. We have had so many occasions through the years where people just stood by doing nothing while some tragedy was taking place.  In these days of instant communication, we find so many using their phones to take pictures of events.  I wonder though how many think to call 911 or rush to the aid of a person in trouble.  Yes, I know, some do.

Finally, my point is that to live we must be engaged on some level.  Each person will decide for him/herself what he or she can do.  Once we have decided how we will be engaged in life, we must do it.  It may even be that whatever you are doing is already exactly the right thing for you to do.  No one can decide for you.  Getting beyond analyzing or just thinking about it does seem to be an important step to take.

Apparently I became a spectator without realizing it.  Now that I see that I will seek to find ways to be more engaged in living.  I will probably continue to write.  It’s what I do.  I will also get out of myself more and socially engage.  (This is difficult for me, in case you wondered.)  Maybe I will take that trip I keep thinking about (even though I don’t have a particular destination in mind).  I encourage you to find your own way to engage in life here and now.  Let’s enjoy life together!