Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
I make multiple trips past these freezer doors nearly every day. Door after door after door, filled with frozen fish this and grilled chicken that, pork tenderloin this and bacon crumble that, salmon patties and breaded chicken, meatballs, tempura shrimp and steak fajitas. Meat is such an integral part of our culture - and the extensive food industry - that we require a separate vegetarian section just to single out a few dinner items as being meatless.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I awake to a light tapping on the front door. Momentarily stupefied, I check the time on my phone. 2:39 am. The tapping pauses, then resumes again. I stand up and quickly buckle on top of my left leg, which is still asleep, then open the door a crack, fully expecting to see a crazy person staring back at me. I glimpse a guy grinning in a big sombrero, uncomfortably close to the door, and begin closing it when I hear the music.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
We know they’re afraid of our presence, too, but for all our ruggedness, we’re still city girls in swimsuits and we’re trying not to wet our pants on their living room carpet. After ten minutes of deliberation, of praying and standing up on the bridge’s railing to check on the bears that we think are ambling back down the trail we walked in on, we muster some courage. Ruthie finds two rocks and bangs them together, I clap my hands as loudly as I can and yell, and we begin making our way down the trail. The further we go, the more we relax, almost enough to laugh at our pitiful performance, but there’s this reminder that we’re not alone out here.
The transition back to civilization, unlike our exit from it, is instantaneous. From pure and natural creation to cars, SUVs, power lines, perpetual noise, cell phone reception, I feel the immediate distancing from nature. Like we’re walking back through the wardrobe, from Narnia to England at war. Back to newspaper headlines: presidential campaigning, drought and famine in Africa, storms in the midwest wreaking havoc again, economic depression, revolutions and war in the Middle East. It assaults me immediately, this is our reality now.
And yet, this brief escape into creation reminds me of an even greater reality. That somehow, in the midst of all the distress and tumult of the world, another song plays daily, perhaps more loudly and more persistent. Creation shouts joyfully, unceasingly, of her beautiful Creator. Even in the chaos and tragedies of life on earth, creation continues to sing of the beauty and goodness of her Lord. Her song directs us to his wonder and majesty, his awesome power and tender care, his playfulness and artistic genius, his faithful remembering and daily presence.
We do, after all, share this home with bears.
Back in Seattle, I relish this day off at home before heading back to work tomorrow. I run around Greenlake, fast and free, kicking up dust all the way around in the partly cloudy sunshine. As I run, I think of life in the mountains, on the lake, in the vast, vast expanse of wilderness, out in the majesty of nature. How different it is here in the city.
I feel a nudge, not really, but in my heart, saying, “Pay attention.” And I look at all the people around Greenlake. The old men sitting on benches, the moms pushing strollers, the runners in all shapes and sizes, the couples holding hands, the delightful ruckus of children playing, the dogs running happy with tongues rolling out, the Indian grandpa all regal in white robe walking with his granddaughter in her pink dress and dark chocolate skin. There’s so much life here, I think.
And the one who nudged me waits, me who can be so slow to see sometimes, while the knowlege of his love lights up the dim places of my heart.
The truest beauty in God’s eyes is not in the rugged mountains or the wild waters, the green forests or the crystaline deserts. It’s not out “there,” secluded from all this madness of humanity. It’s here, it’s us. We are his most beautiful creation. What we see as ugly, messy, unfinished, tragic, chaotic, he plops down in the midst of and sees beauty. The mountains and rivers were not made in the image of God; we are. And he, transfiguring into our flesh and bones, coming to sit with us in our mess and offer a way out of emptiness, is the real beauty.
Now if we can only learn to sing joy songs with the rest of creation, what a beautiful sound that will be.
Monday, August 15, 2011
It’s mid August, and Ruthie and Naphtali and I are fleeing town in a big ol’ Subarban. Patty, the Subarban, wears a metal canoe and bumblebee yellow kayak on top like a tight party hat. Inside, we’ve got gear for five days of camping. This is our third year, so we’ve got it down to an art. Bliss.
Traveling to the mountains, it’s a gradual transformation from civilization to wilderness. The bustling city of Seattle behind us, a stretch of interstate before us, we turn off one highway onto another, and now the landscape changes to bigger lots and fields, fewer restaurants and shops, bigger sky. Another thirty minutes, and all we see from our windows is green pasture, farmhouses, cows and goats grazing, signs advertising berries and fresh produce for sale, creeks running swiftly beneath wooden bridges. And then, we’re swallowed in mountains. Snaking alongside Lake Diablo, lost again in its jeweled green, hypnotic beauty.
It’s perhaps as close to paradise as I’ve been. Nothing for transportation but self-powered canoes and kayaks in clear waters, mountains jut snow-peaked and majestic, stately and awe-inspiring, on either side of us, cradling us in the lake below. We’re sojourners, settling one night here and one night there, sometimes with other humans in sight and sometimes not.
Out here, fashion doesn’t matter. We wear the same thing for four days straight without showers, without mirrors. Money is almost useless in the wilderness, with the exception of our portage fare from the bottom of Ross Lake dam to the top. No cars, no cell phones, no towers or power lines, no running water, no internet or social networking, no television or redbox or music.
On the vast expanse of lake, stretching up into Canada, it’s almost eerily quiet. It takes awhile for my ears to tune into the music of the mountain wilderness. And when they do, I’m overtaken with peace and gratitude and wonder and this feeling of smallness. The song of creation. It takes my breath away. It’s the tune of the wind dancing up high in the tall, tall trees. It’s the melody of the water lapping, the waterfalls crashing, the waves breaking. It’s the high pitch of the chipmunk’s call, the tweet of the common birds dipping and playing, the crackle of fire at twilight, the gentle whoosh of breeze tunneling through the forests.
There’s a sense of reverence and vulnerability out here. We pack in and pack out, trying to leave no trail of our presence behind, staying overnight in the home of the creatures who dwell here, trying not to cross them. On a short hike nearby camp, Ruthie and I hear a crackle of branches off to the right, and she stops. “What is it?” I ask.
“A bear.” She says it as nonchalantly as she can, but I feel the tension in her voice. I look to the right and, sure enough, I see a little black cub staring back at me from a stone’s throw away in the woods. We walk quickly up a nearby bridge; underneath us the icy waters of glacier run-off flow into rapids. Mama bear’s got to be close behind her cub. Bears in paradise.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
More often than not, as a writer, I inhabit quiet, unspoken moments. Somehow, many words may never make it out of my mouth in conversation, but they find their voice in written form. Within these moments are those rarer, held in my hand with wonder and care like a translucent bubble. To speak, I feel, may pop it, as if this were a common moment inserted into passing conversation, easily blown upon and replaced with another moment. To write it, however, may preserve it, prolong enjoyment, even honor its memory when it has passed.