Around the Bend

Around the BendWM

Yes,
as you say,
summertime often fills the water with voices.

But around the bend,
I reply,
that is where my eardrums cease to tingle.

And in the silence,
I am Gaia,
creator and creation.

Without tingling ears,
plastics or steel,
we are all one, interconnected.

Heaven

 

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Heaven. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Hope of the Earth
Earth’s Hope. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

East of the endless retail, and
the keeping it weird of Portland,
lies a land forgotten.

Far from the fir & fruit trees,
the nation imagines,
is another Oregon.

Beneath the infinite sky,
the sage grows wild, and
wheat, wind, & warmheartedness sustain.

In the arid landscape,
the rare rain & tree are treasures,
as beloved as family and history.

The tiny grocery, the pub,
& soda fountain are the venue
for a shadow vibrancy unseen by passersby.

Beyond that neighborliness,
using only my feet and legs to carry,
I step along a rocky path once walked by rancher.

Deep in the canyon,
beneath the hot spring sun,
my ears are baptized with silence.

Beside the deep blue river,
and beneath the azure dome,
my thoughts come easily.

Purifying sage reaches my nostrils,
the Spirit descends,
and divine love & clarity permeate palpably.

The rocks beneath & sky above are me.
My toes hug the rocky soil,
and my spirit soars among fluffy clouds.

I am one. We are One.

Beetle Strikes a Pose

Candid shots are my preference but the things that move on the trail do not always want their photos taken. So today, I tried to gently coax this beetle to pose for its portrait on all legs. Instead, it rolled on its back. Then it stood on its head. Repeatedly, it stood on its head. I suggested one last time, “You’re portrait will be engaging if you stand on your legs!” My friend stood on its head once again.

I interpreted this to mean it was striking a pose.

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Bug On Head. Photo taken by Tim Graves at Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

Seeking Certainty

Seeking Certainty

I wish I knew.  I want certainty.
I need to know. Yes, I need to know.
How can I prepare if I don’t know?

“Show me the way!”
I shout at God.
“Tell me now! I must know. Now!”

If I just listen more closely.
Maybe, if I quiet myself.
This path? That path? Certainly, not the other path?

Certainly not.

Today, I know where my foot should fall.
Here. Yes, here. I’m sure it’s here. Positively.
Yes. Yes. Yes. This is it.

Or is it?

Doubt. Fear.
I don’t want to be hurt.
I don’t want to make a mistake.
I really do want to do what God wants.

But.

But what if this path is too rocky?
What if that one disappears among the muck?
What if I’ve got it wrong. It’s not like the signs are in neon.

Why turn either way? Why not stay right here?
I love it here.
Really, mother. I love it here.

I wish I knew.
Is there a path for me at all? Do I matter?
What if this path –the one I already know — is ordained for me?

Sigh.

Is the sandy path down near the beach my path?
Maybe the rocky one that leads to the clouds is mine?
Perhaps this linoleum trail I’ve been on is mine?

Mine.

Mine. Mine. Mine.

I need to know my path.
How can I prepare if I don’t know?
I have to pack after all.
Do I fill the Samsonite with shorts & tanks or jeans & hoods?

I mentally torture myself trying to determine the path.
This one? That one? Another one?

“Show me the way!”
I shout at God.
“Tell me now! I must know. Now!”

But what if the divine doesn’t work that way?
What if I have choices?
What if I can  feel the calf-burn of moving up sandy dunes if I want?
What if  the pinch of tiny rocks in my mountain hikers is my choice?
What if the drizzly fog freezing on the smooth rocks is my preference?

What if?

What if any one of these paths is mine?
What if any combination of many paths are mine?

Perhaps, just perhaps the spirit is revealed upon any trail,
any trail upon which I come alive!

Maybe any one of these paths and more are ordained for me if I choose.

I think maybe, just maybe.

Maybe that is what it means to be created in the image of God: to have choices before me and to make whatever path I traverse a place where I bring myself, wholeheartedly, and brimming with love to share.

I Come Alive

I Come Alive
In the Aviary Domain.  Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License  BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
In the Aviary Domain. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License
BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

I come alive where,
the desert meets the river.

I come alive where,
the scent of healing lines the trail. 

I come alive in,
the aviary domain,
and the land of kindred,
crossing my path.

I come alive beside,
the still waters. 

I come alive when,
I hike with God. 

Where the Scent of Healing Lines the Trail. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License  BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Where the Scent of Healing Lines the Trail. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

___

I wrote this poem and created this video as a member of the planning committee for the Central Pacific Conference, United Church of Christ Annual Meeting 2015.

Related 

Video: I Come Alive, https://youtu.be/pbpNeJuswsI

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Trail’s End

Trail’s End
Fire Ants.  Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Fire Ants. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

Trail’s end,
journey done,
land devoid, arid, and barren.

Pause. Deep breath. Immersed.

Flowing life,
clinging marsh,
carved precipice.

Humming dragons,
chittering Junco,
chalky flood wall.

Fire ants toiling,
fuzzy worms moving,
phacelia and monkey flower.

Fuzzy Worm.  Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Fuzzy Worm. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

Sun warms,
cooling breeze,
aromatic sage.

Pause. Deep breath. Immersed.

Trail’s end,
spirit washed,
into the province of life.

 

Immersed.  Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Immersed. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

View additional photos on Flickr.

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Breathing in the Journey 

Breathing in the Journey 
Journey. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Journey. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

Though productive and gratifying my spirit and body were ready for a sabbath hike at the end of the day. With thoughts of wafting sage and a murmuring river, I began filling water bottles and checking my pack.

Making a “just in case” stop before heading the twenty-five miles to our local state park, I watched as the energy of out-of-towners turned our small town gas station abuzz. Some smiled; many looked pained and stressed.

The station manager smiled at me and I her. It was a holiday weekend at the only gas stop for fifty miles. Our small talk while she pumped multiple cars revealed that though it was still before four, she’d been chewed out several times by stressed holiday-goers.

Refreshing. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Refreshing. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

Once filled, I headed down to the park. As I passed wheatfields, the old abandoned homestead, a parishioner’s ranch, and the wind farms I noted actual traffic on our two-lane highway. I waved at the sheriff as I slowed to pass him writing a ticket.

The thought emerged as I made the twenty-five minute drive but impressed itself upon my brain as I walked the quiet trails in the canyon. My holidays are significantly different than those of others. We’ve long since given up stress-cations and are healthier for it.

Walking quietly along the trail, I listened to the gurgling river, the singing birds, and humming insects. The stress of my day flowed out of me with each footfall. Respite is not tied to a place; it is in the journey. My sabbath began as I filled my water bottles and stopped for gas. My healing was jump started by smiles and small talk at the gas station.

The friendly wave from the sheriff and the nod from the woman leaving the trailhead are not a means to an end. They are the sabbath itself.

I hope that the hurrying masses find the peace they need when finally arriving where they’re going on this holiday weekend but I wonder. I wonder if they might have more joy if they slowed down and breathed in the journey rather than fighting it.

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The Power of the Sage

The Power of the Sage
March Sage
The Sage by the John Day River. Photo by Tim Graves (Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Pausing.
Picking a tiny frond,
and another.

Rubbing.
Pinching the late winter leaves,
between thumb and forefinger.

Smelling.
Tasting the aroma of spring,
with nose and memory.

Being.
Relaxing in the divine,
as time culminates in one moment.

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