Heaven Above, Heaven Below

Heaven Above, Heaven Below
Shy Bumblebee. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Shy Bumblebee. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

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.

 

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A Solitary Raindrop

A Solitary Raindrop
Rising Point. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Rising Point. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

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.

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.

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

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.

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Click here to see additional photos.

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Awakening on the Perpendicular Trail

Awakening on the Perpendicular Trail

I woke up on the perpendicular trail;
though I meant to stay beneath the blanket streaming videos.
Whose idea was this anyway?

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

I should turn around;
I need the rest.
Maybe just another switchback or two.

That obvious rock moved as I stepped over it;
I’ve been toddling stably for five & one-half decades.
Why else would I have fallen?

I should turn back;
the dirt on my knee will stain without prompt pre-treatment.
Maybe just to the clearing up ahead.

Breathe in, breathe out, I’m really worn out from the week.
Those things! Those emails and phone calls and screen work
will need a well-rested me tomorrow.

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

I should turn back;
wearing myself out today will only further exhaust. 
It’s probably an old athlete’s tale that moving muscles leads to healing.

Whoa!

The leprechaun didn’t notice the hole in his bag;
He never would’ve left that golden mushroom,
the one that rolled out and landed beside the trail.

Wow!

That class trip during the beige of winter didn’t pack it in & out;
I guess five-year-olds can’t be expected to know this would happen.
Their crayolas have sprouted in the warm sunshine.

Mt. Adams from the summit of Dog Mountain. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Mt. Adams from the summit of Dog Mountain. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

But I should turn back; 
all I have is a trail bar and an apple; that’s not much lunch.
Maybe just a bit longer.

Purples, yellows, whites, and
pinks sparkle beside the trail.
Cyan has chased away even the fluffy clouds,
And branches have captured the cumulus marshmallows.

Maybe just another switchback;
maybe just up to the clearing. 
A little more trail bar is all the energy I need.

Snow peaks beckon:
“Come peer at me from within a floral blanket;
and I’ll stream something better than video.”

Maybe just for a little while;
as long as I’ve come this far.

Though muscles ache and skin has pinked,
awe overtakes my soul; and
I awake three thousand feet above the azure river.

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

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Related Posts & Photos

Dog Mountain, April 2015 (Flickr)
Wiped Memories, June 6, 2014
Perseverance, June 10, 2014
Dog Mountain, June 2014 (Flickr)

Beneath the Blanket

Beneath the Blanket

They said sun & sixty; 
I got gloom and forty-eight. 

Anticipating fifties & vanishing clouds; 
I got forties and a brown pudding path.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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Related

More photos June 2014
Perceiving & Becoming July 7, 2014
More photos April 8, 2015
Video: Wind Mountain summit April 8, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

The Essence

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

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.

 

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Related

Did a Dead Man Really Return to Life? April 7, 2012

Butterscotch Rays & Winter Breath

Butterscotch Rays & Winter Breath
Pink. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Pink. Photo by Tim Graves. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

Blue sky dominates dissipating clouds;
butterscotch rays touch exposed skin, darkening lenses.

Gusting breath of winter denies the calendar. 

Mercury surpasses fifty and two on its way to sixty and four;
bodies yearn to strip away winter coats and scarves. 

Brisk breath of winter refuses the lengthening days. 

Brown ribbon of earth weaves and wiggles;
multiplying blooms and buds reveal the unfolding resurrection. 

Gale breath of winter persists despite muscled legs and wills of hope. 

Tangerine sun, pink, purple, and yellow florets do not worry;
the promises of the divine mama are 
kept with extravagance. 

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

Chilly breath wheezes, evolving into warm breezes;
resurrection reigns, embedded in the DNA of existence.

See more photos.

 

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

 

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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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Crystalline Baptism

Crystalline Baptism
Icy Tamanawas. Photo by Tim Graves (Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Icy Tamanawas. Photo by Tim Graves (Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Walking beside the azure water,
the glacial melt bubbles & foams,
and icicles cling to logs.

Winter hangs in the morning air,
cowering beneath the fir-ry needles,
and hard-cold boulders.

Undeterred, mustard light oozes,
through the bare branched tree-kin,
spicing the frosted trail with its spring warmth.

This is the way.
This is the incline.
This is the switchback and bridge,
to the holy baptistry.

The sacred waters of the grotto,
lure me forward with a roar and glimpse.

Standing, I open the doors of the alcove.
Standing, I gasp at the crystalline love,
blanketing each boulder, cluster of moss, and tree.

Standing, I kneel before the divine,
as mist settles upon my skin washing away trail dust.

Breathing, the mist flows through my lungs, into my bloodstream, baptizing heart and soul.

 

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