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/

The Long & Short of It

In the Dark
A Place to Reflect. Photo taken by Tim Graves at Silver Falls State Park, Oregon. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

It was longer, it is shorter now. My colon, that is. Two years ago my right colon was removed. That experience of surgery, hospitalization, and months of recovery changed me. Significantly.

On the second anniversary of my semi-colon, my incision said “hello” with a sensation that got my attention. It’s not unusual for it to speak to me, especially when I’m working my abdominal muscles at the gym.

I confess I like the hellos. They remind me of love, of vulnerability & mortality, and my humanity. The hellos remind me that caring for myself is not an extra. It is an essential.

I confess I like the hellos. They remind me of the love of my wife of nearly 37-years who took time off work to cook me mashed potatoes and help me manage the infected wound area. (It required gross things). They remind me of my children who ignored me when I told them they didn’t need to come see me.

I confess I like the hellos. They remind me of my vulnerability. There was something humbling and spiritual about being dependent: by medical staff in the hospital and my beloved at home. I experienced living fully human. To suffer and depend on others is part of how we are created. We are one family.

I confess I like the hellos because surgery & recovery changed me. I no longer give lip service to self-care. I take care of myself even when it is not convenient. I know — I believe & embrace — that I am important to myself, to others, and to the one I call God.  I start my day with the gym or I stop work early and lace up my running shoes. I hike in the Columbia River Gorge, the sage-marinated trails of eastern Oregon, or I hike the sacred Mt. Hood. I take rest days when my body and spirit needs them.

After two-years with a semi-colon, I am thankful for the “one permutation from cancer” growths that necessitated removal of my right colon. Though my life is still filled with personal challenges, personal mistakes, deep grief at times, I am blessed by the divine presence within creation and  each of us that nudges and encourages every rock and human being to be the most loving that we are capable of becoming.

____

This is the twelfth of multiple posts about my experiences of surgery and recovery following a colonoscopy and removal of my right colon.

Related Posts

God Hides God’s Face From Me! May 20, 2014
Unnatural, May 21, 2014
Out of Chaos, May 27, 2014
No Big Deal, May 29, 2014
Mortality, June 3, 2014
Wiped Memories, June 6, 2014
Perseverance, June 10, 2014
Scars, June 19, 2014
Embracing Emotions, July 2, 2014
An Unexpected Onion, January 14, 2015
One Year Ago Today, March 28, 2015
The Long & Short of It, March 29, 2016

 

 

When I’m Ready

When I’m Ready
Oasis to Come
Oasis to Come. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License, BY-NC-ND 3.0

On the trail,
all alone,
I’m not.

On the trail,
a partner,
sometimes silent.

On the trail,
a sojourner,
always present.

On the trail,
a voice,
a companion.

***

My companion,
listens,
as I cry & yammer.

My companion,
encourages,
free thought.

My companion,
appreciates,
randomness.

My companion,
smiles,
and love and hope hug me.

My companion,
speaks,
in word, sign, & through vistas.

***

When I deny, avoid
and question,
the companion waits.

In my confusion,
along the other paths I find,
my companion marvels at slug & frond.

When I worry,
and the world wounds my soul,
my companion points to  the lilies.

When I avoid,
choosing the present,
my companion warms me in the now.

When I push  back,
shouting “I hate you!”
my companion sticks around.

When I yearn & crave decision.
my companion offers a word or sign,
wrapped in hope, love, patience, & a hug.

***

A decision,
an issue,
flutters inside.

A decision,
interacts with,
bud & puddle of mud.

A decision,
an issue, pros & cons,
take turns deep within.

A decision,
with each step,
floats to the surface.

A decision,
is apparent,
and I lack trust, & confidence.

A decision,
eludes & hides,
behind fear and angst.

A decision,
waits patiently,
until I choose to hear.

***

On the trail,
all alone,
I’m not.

My companion,
listens,
as I cry & yammer.

When I deny, avoid
and question,
the companion waits.

A decision,
an issue,
flutters inside.

***

When I’m ready for joy,
the word or sign,
wrapped in hope, love, patience, & a hug await.

 

Bridge of Breath & Dust

Bridge of Breath & Dust
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Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 

Beside the fir’s olfactory balm,
I step and step again.
Pausing I breathe in Mama Gaia.

Healed.

The silence and chittering creatures,
lose their dominance as I continue.
Trickles and gurgles become roars.

Curious.

Beneath the green canopy,
the end of tunnel light beckons.
Emerging solar warmth embraces my skin.

Energized.

Hopeful yellows, purples, & reds
dot the spring shoreline beyond the roaring.
The icy danger disrupts my forward journey.

Yearning.

In the mountain’s domain,
far from she and far from he,
I stand beneath the blue skies.

Flummoxed

Beside the rushing waters,
I gaze beyond the treacherous sea.
No steel or human-crafted expanse facilitates my journey.

Decoding.

Fear and desire compete.
“Maybe here. Maybe up that way.”
Turning around feels like giving up.

Trepidation.

“There!” I spy rudimentary clues.
Those who’ve come before point the way.
Challenge, skill, and hope lure me across the rushing risk.

Cautious.

A little muddy, damp, and chilled,
I look back to where I’ve been.
Ethereal kindred united self with me.

Bridged.

In the mountain’s domain,
the breath of divine wholeness reveals,
the dusty camaraderie of humanity.

Inside a Monet

Within a Monet
Within a Monet. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0.

I tend to favor less developed parks. Trails that are narrowier, more treacherous, and less groomed challenge my physiology and spirit. Rocks or moss (sometimes both) are my preferred benches. The Oregon Parks Department, however, has a knack for placing benches within oil paintings.

Sometimes, I find myself along a well-groomed, safer trail. When I come across a bench in the divine art gallery, I sit upon that bench. As I admire the painting before me I soon realize the divine artist has also been busy to my left, my right, and behind me.

Tuning in to the chatter of squirrels, the rushing water, and the breath that tousles branches stretching to the sky, I notice my own brushstrokes. I am part of this divinely created masterpiece!

Like the splendor of the falls, the mud in my boots, and the early budding trees, my allure and beauty are created in the artist’s own image.

Clarity on the Trail

 

Always the Trail
Always the Trail. Photo by Tim Graves. Photo by Tim Graves Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0
Always. I know, I know. Nothing is aaalways but…yes. Always.

Always the trail clarifies. Even when I think it will not, journeying beneath trees or across meadows or within the aroma of the sage, the trail moves my mind, heart, body, and soul.

Clarity comes in the form of questions, a decision, or a heart and soul healed.  Though the trail doesn’t always end the worry or angst, each step among creation changes me. Each step I take embedded within nature reminds me that I am nature.  I am wholly embedded. And, that, is where I find the holy.

Droughts, Abundant Rain, & Being

Droughts, Abundant Rain, & Being
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Dry Bones (September 2012). Photo by Tim Graves Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0

Awhile back, I was inspired by the abundant life still present in the parched late summer at the Tom McCall Preserve near Rowena, Oregon. The dry conditions were not unusual that year. I confess the sound of the hot wind blowing through the dry grass and crinkling leaves brings me peace when I hike there in the summer months.

Instead of the Columbia River Gorge’s hot breath, I experienced its bitter winds on my early February hike. There was no crunching to be heard, only the sloshing sound of my  (thankfully!) waterproof hiking boots on the muddy and floody trail. There was subtle beauty in the winter moisture just as there was in late summer.

Last fall, much of this area was under a drought emergency. Mt. Hood was rapidly losing its snowcap. Areas I hiked in July had the same lack of snow that is typical of late September. This winter we’ve been blessed by moisture falling as rain at the lower elevations and snow in the mountains.

Certainly we need to be concerned about climate change; we should be taking more drastic actions than we have been taking. Nonetheless, spiritually we  need to remember that the very nature of existence is change. What is now, will not last forever. Droughts become an abundant winter of snow and rain.

Writes Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön, “Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.” I confess that I’ve recently been in a funk. I’ve been struggling with the wilderness, the “no-man’s-land” as Chödrön refers to it, on and off for some time.

The result of course is I’ve been out of harmony with reality. By allowing myself to resist and struggle against the impermenance, failing to be in the present, I allow myself to be out of sync with the joy, the contentment — the divinity — within myself and others. So, I confess my sin and pledge to continue the wandering, the learning to be. 

___

Below are photos of the moisture from my recent trek through McCall Preserve. The image that looks like a small stream? That’s the trail.

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.