Reflecting Waters

Reflecting Waters

Upside down, sideways, and not quite right, reflecting waters offer us a perspective that can illumine or appear to skew reality. I confess a fascination with the interplay between light, water, and surroundings.

When the waters are still, reflections can magnify natural beauty.

The east end of Mosier is reflected in still waters. Photo by Tim Graves.
The east end of Mosier, Oregon  is reflected in still waters. Photo by Tim Graves.
Clouds are mirrored in the blue waters near Coyote Wall in Washington state. Photo by Tim Graves
Clouds are mirrored in the blue waters near Coyote Wall in Washington state. Photo by Tim Graves

Sometimes reflections create an unexpected beauty in the utilitarian.

The grain elevator in Condon, Oregon is a grey concrete structure. These tanks have bright plastic tubes where many elevators have cold, steel. An unexpected puddle on the grey gravel creates an unexpected beauty in the common and utilitarian. Photo by Tim Graves
The grain elevator in Condon, Oregon is a grey concrete structure. These tanks have bright tubes where many elevators have cold, steel. An unexpected puddle on the grey gravel creates an unexpected beauty in the common and utilitarian. Photo by Tim Graves

Still waters and fog, water in the air, can reflect light creating an otherworldly aura around the common mechanical process of electric lighting.

BNSF Reflection
The not quite-still Columbia River reflects the lights of a BNSF train as it travels along the Columbia River in the early morning fog near Mosier, Oregon and Bingen, Washington. Photo by Tim Graves

Mirrors covered in algae do not reflect sunlight clearly. What passersby might otherwise characterize as slime, reveals a kaleidoscopic aesthetic when spaces between the algae reflect nearby vegetation.

Beneath a freeway overpass, waters rise in the winter months. When the spring sunshine emerges reflections battle with algae in Rock Creek Park in Oregon. Photo by Tim Graves

Moving waters on sand create a flickering and changing image of the immovable. With each wave, the sturdy dances on the sands.

Haystack Reflection

Reflections do more than simulate. They expand and enhance. Their echoing imagery hint at the deeper essence, the divinity within, that we would not perceive looking directly at that which is reflected. The soul of creation, what I call the Imago Dei (image of God) can be glimpsed in reflections. Maybe that is why I am so fascinated by them.

Purples, Greens, Oranges, & Hope

Purples, Greens, Oranges, & Hope

I last hiked along Oregon’s Deschutes River at the end of February. Though I saw early signs of spring, it took some optimism to do so.

If you squint you can imagine flowering vegetation in the Deschutes River Canyon in late February. Photo by Tim Graves
If you squint you can imagine flowering vegetation in the Deschutes River Canyon in late February. Photo by Tim Graves
The blue sky is reflected in the waters of the Deschutes River. Surrounded by hints of green along the canyon, spring is on the horizon in late February. Photo by Tim Graves
The blue sky is reflected in the waters of the Deschutes River. Surrounded by hints of green along the canyon, spring is on the horizon in late February. Photo by Tim Graves

My hike yesterday, however, required no faithful optimism to see the season of resurrection in the midst of nature. Trees budded, many blossomed. Wildflowers and green sprouts enclosed the brown dirt upon which I journeyed. It was easy to believe in Mother Nature’s resilience and the god of resurrections in early April.

Zoom in past the green hue of the Deschutes River canyon and you will find plant life abloom. Photo by Tim Graves
Zoom in past the green hue of the Deschutes River canyon and you will find plant life abloom. Photo by Tim Graves
Budding trees have turned to colorful blossoms in the Deschutes River canyon. Photo by Tim Graves
Budding trees have turned to colorful blossoms in the Deschutes River canyon. Photo by Tim Graves
Low lying vegetation emerges from its winter hibernation in the Deschutes River canyon. Photo by Tim Graves
Low lying vegetation emerges from its winter hibernation in the Deschutes River canyon. Photo by Tim Graves
Spiraling out of winter, vegetation is blooming in the Deschutes River canyon in early April. Photo by Tim Graves
Spiraling out of winter, vegetation is blooming in the Deschutes River canyon in early April. Photo by Tim Graves
Wildflowers line the middle trail at Deschutes River Recreation area. Photo by Tim Graves
Wildflowers line the middle trail at Deschutes River Recreation area. Photo by Tim Graves
Wildflowers line the middle trail at Deschutes River Recreation area. Photo by Tim Graves
Wildflowers line the middle trail at Deschutes River Recreation area. Photo by Tim Graves
The trees on islands and along side the Deschutes River leaf in joy in early April. Photo by Tim Graves
The trees on islands and along side the Deschutes River leaf in joy in early April. Photo by Tim Graves

The most notable contrast between my late February hike and this week was not the flowering trees or wildflowers, however. It was the non-plant wildlife that has emerged. I saw beetles and huge-whiskered squirrels. Crows were in flight, the bumblebees and yellow jackets diligently moved from flower to flower. Elusive Western Meadowlarks rustled leaves while the lizard darted across my path evading the camera lens. The Deschutes canyon is full of life emerging from winter hibernation. New life and creatures that have returned from southern migrations abound between the canyon walls.

A crow takes flight in the Deschutes River canyon in late April. Photo by Tim Graves
A crow takes flight in the Deschutes River canyon in early  April. Photo by Tim Graves
Crossing Paths
An emerging beetle crosses the hiker’s path in early April. Photo by Tim Graves
Bees are active in the Deschutes River canyon in early April. Photo by Tim Graves
Bees are active in the Deschutes River canyon in early April. Photo by Tim Graves

Like bird and beetle, people emerge from their warming enclosures in the spring. In my late February trek, I was alone on the dirt ribbons that parallel the river. This week I encountered several people walking the trail.

Though we forget when trees and foliage fade to browns and yellows, spring comes reliably in the northern hemisphere.  In the frozen precipitation and the browns and pale yellows of winter our moods drive us to feel that the darkness of the present will be endless. We fumble through February and early March convinced that we are alone in our winter wandering and seclusion.

But the God of resurrections and seasons never abandons even when we distance ourself from divine love. The Divine within all and between all of creation, loves and cares as deeply and as fully in the grey days as in the midst of blossoms. Like nature and Jesus in the Christian narrative of faith, we are resurrected from times of distress, anxiety,  death, and fears to a world clothed in purples, greens, oranges, and hope.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life . . . Consider the ravens: they neither plant nor harvest, they have no silo or barn, yet God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds!  Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? If you can’t do such a small thing, why worry about the rest? Notice how the lilies grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, how much more will God do for you, you people of weak faith!  Luke 12:22a, 24-31 CEB (Read in context.)