East of Portland, further inland then even Hood River, in the mid-Columbia River Gorge the trees become more sparse and the wildflowers and grasses dance in the strong winds. On the craggy bluffs the choreography of bloom and blade is framed by sweeping views of the winding, blue river and the azure & cotton ball sky.
It is here in this land of enchantment in which my mouth opens in awe so that I might taste the sight before me, that my knees grow weak. Like a man before a God I’ve underestimated and over-defined, I drop to my knees before the divine splendor. Steadied on the earth, I discover the divine dome that arches before, beside, and behind me is but crown to the glory of bumblebee, lizard, batchelor buttons, and yellow joy.
And I pray a song of gratitude for the One who loves ostentatiously.
I wiped my face half expecting smushed bug but all I got was raindrop. Simultaneously relieved and confused my eyes turned skyward. White fluff dotted blue, sun-soaked skies.
Except for that one dark mass of sky lint. I’d have remained dry, apart from the sweat my own body produced, as I climbed McCall Point were it not for that annoying, solitary raindrop.
It was that kind of raindrop that strikes out on its own. It was risking enthusiasm and passion embodied within two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. It was prophecy of challenges to come, of storms that must be navigated. And it chose to land upon my face.
Though we often scold or ignore solitary raindrops, we need them. The solitary ones herald the costs of our journeys. They risk that we might grow and develop musculature. They risk that we might be whole.
I pray today that I heed the warnings, embrace the wisdom, and honor the risks the single tears take on our behalf. May I be worthy of the solitary one’s choice to land upon my cheek. Amen.
They said sun & sixty; I got gloom and forty-eight.
Anticipating fifties & vanishing clouds; I got forties and a brown pudding path.
Exhausted and wounded by the chaotic clamor of recent weeks, I sought a sequestering salve on Wind Mountain. I trusted the early forecast and scheduled my week so that I could hike in sunshine and sit at the peak breathing in the expansive view of the Columbia River Gorge. It was the balm I deserved and needed I told myself.
Driving to the cinder cone mountain, the place of ancient spirit quests, the clouds did not lift. I changed the setting of my wipers from off to intermittent and eventually to low as I drove along southwest Washington’s Highway 14.
I parked at the lonely trailhead and began my hike. Though it didn’t last, I was pleased to start my journey under dry if overcast skies.
I was soon reminded that the divine breath that blows cold in early spring, is a moist liniment that provokes seasonal resurrections. Among the early blossoms, the changing colors reflected sunny days past and yet-to-be. The absence of human noise floated downward on drops of rain that washed the collected noise from my mind.
Nearing the bend to the westside of the mountain, I could hear the Gorge winds and half-frozen rain howl and clatter on the trees. My eyeglasses fogged on the final ascent while my tightly held hood restricted my peripheral views.
Stumbling, I pulled off my glasses to see through the condensation, and my nearsightedness kept me from visual clarity. A quick loop around the viewing areas, a glance at the low-hanging cloud behind which Mts. Adams and St. Helens hid, a pause at the contorted trees I remembered from previous treks, and I began my descent.
As I moved down the east side of the old cinder cone mountain, I noted my spirit was lighter. The blockages in my head were clearing; my synapses fired as if equipped with new spark plugs.
I’d planned for sun and sixty while expecting fifties and vanishing clouds, but they were unnecessary. Beneath the misty blanket, immersed in the sacred fibers of moisture, the spirit of that sacred place applied the medicinal balm I sought.
Resurrection is a truth. We see its evidence as clearly in nature as in our ancient texts. The loving divinity that fuels our existence always trumps death. This is the essence of the Good News of Easter.