Hope Remains

Yes, hope remains. Despite fires and smoke, extremely hazardous air quality, several days of evacuation orders: hope remains.

All the above add stress to the already stressful pandemic. Yet, hope remains.

One bit of good news, the Portland protests and riots took a break during the smoke and poor air quality. One less level of stress. Hope remains.

As we sat in our home, we talked a lot about preparedness when threatened by a natural disaster. What one thing would you take? It’s hard to say. You might not have time to remember what that thing is and then pick it up and go. But we did start a list of what we’d need to take with us. 

This is a new experience for us. The danger zones were a new experience for our firefighters, other responders, and those tracking the wildfires. These fires met up with a Santa Ana-type windstorm. The winds licked up the flames and moved more quickly than anyone expected.

Our county’s placement under a smoke advisory advised residents to stay inside with windows and doors closed tightly. Already tired of the pandemic quarantine, the idea of being closed within our home because of smoke was somewhat worse. Nothing could be seen before, behind, or beside us. It felt like living in a cocoon that wasn’t opening. Hope remained, and the rains came. And the smoke slowly left our valley.

While we talked and listened for alerts, I remembered a time we visited a forest in eastern Oregon only days after a raging wildfire had gone through it. Bob’s brother and his wife lived in Burns at the time and shortly after that fire we visited them for a weekend. They suggested we take a walk through the forest to see the fire’s devastation.

Green shoots breaking through charred debris surprised me. Tiny pine and fir trees were beginning life again in their home high atop a hill in this forest. Blackened and charred trees and ash were all around us. Tall trees remained but showed the effects of the heat and fire that had lapped at their trunks days before. At that moment, hope was also growing and shining brightly.

The memory of that trip and the walk into the burned forest created a spark of hope welling up within my heart. Not just for the renewal of the forests, but for the possibility of renewal in other ways:

  • bringing the raging wildfires under control and protecting those in harm’s way; 
  • recovery for the people who lost everything;
  • in our relationships with our brothers and sisters of all colors and ethnicities, all religions, and all lifestyle choices;
  • the discovery of a COVID vaccine and healing for those suffering from the virus; and 
  • peace in our world.

Now that I see that spark of hope, what am I doing with it? Sharing it with you and others!

What will you do with it? How can we all become united in spreading this hope?

We can think about these questions and write out our feelings about hope in a journal, a post, an essay, a poem, a song, and share it with others in the hope that they will catch the spark of hope and spread it, too

Via Bible.com

Featured Image Attribution: WhiskerFlowers from Pixabay

 

 

Changing Seasons

Changing seasons are markers in our lives. With September, we begin to think of the end of summer and the advent of autumn. School starts up in many places. And routines at home change to keep with schedules required for school and work and more. In Oregon, harvesting apples and grapes begin. And the cider and winemaking processes start. Farm stands show off pumpkins along with fall-colored mums.

But the September to October transition has been different this year. In seasons past, October weather gave warm days with cooler nights. The rain began to drizzle and then strengthen as October progressed. But not this year. There are days when it feels like winter.
 
Weather patterns are changing all over our country. In Oregon, we have snow in the mountains. Today Timberline Lodge reports an 11″ base on Mt. Hood. Often the operators of the ski lift at Mt. Hood hold their collective breath into November. The wait for an opening date for the season is long sometimes. History also shows seasons when the snowfall was light enough to close the season early.
 
Record snowfalls hit across the midwest last week while a heatwave struck the east coast. Current conditions here and around our country and the world need us to question why.
 
What is going on in our world to cause these climate changes? I don’t know if anyone has the answer.
 
Yet, Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist, seems to have a message. Thunberg hopes government leaders of the world and we as individuals will listen. Her words may hold something close to the answer, if not the answer.
 
If you’d like to hear Thunberg’s message, you can listen to her speech at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 here:
 

 
I am not endorsing everything Greta says. But I do admire her courage, intelligence, and willingness to speak up. I do believe we have endangered our earth and its residents, both human and otherwise. We have not been good stewards of this earth. But I also believe our Mother Earth has gone through changes in previous times. Times when neither you nor I were alive to witness it. That doesn’t mean I wish to witness a cataclysmic change in our world.
 
If government and world leaders, including our own, choose to ignore what’s happening, then the words of a 16-year old young woman are important to hear. Personally, I hold my heart and hands up to a Higher Power for direction in my life. Yet, it is also important that I make myself aware of what I can do to preserve this world for generations to come.
 
Let’s all do our part in whatever way we can.

 

Assurance: a Poem by William Stafford

Assurance by William Stafford

You will never be alone, you hear so deep

a sound when autumn comes. Yellow

pulls across the hills and thrums,

or the silence after lightning before it says

its names- and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed

apologies. You were aimed from birth:

you will never be alone. Rain

will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,

long aisles- you never heard so deep a sound,

moss on rock, and years. You turn your head-

that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.

The whole wide world pours down.

– from The Way It Is, Graywolf Press, 1999

 

Featured Image Attribution: Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

Autumn in Oregon

Autumn in Oregon heralds our rainiest season of the year. Weather prognosticators promised rain for days. Areas nearby and surrounding us received showers. Sometimes only sprinkles. Our neighborhood received nothing.

 
Until…last Saturday night. We awoke on Sunday morning with evidence of overnight rain. And we’ve had several good…let’s say heavy showers since.
 
When it rains in Oregon, we experience fog of varying levels–light, moderate, heavy. Especially when driving through forested areas. The fog dances through the branches of thick and heavy evergreens. It may sound a bit spooky, but it’s a lovely site and cozy too. The white-gray of the fog softens everything around it.
 
Sitting here watching the rainfall, I’m entertained by everchanging colors. The sky goes from blue to gray to almost black and then bursts open with either rain or sun breaks and white clouds.
 
The leaves are changing from green to the bright colors of autumn. With the days shortening, darkness drops its curtain earlier. Then the sky turns a blue-black dotted with sparkling lights if the sky is clear.
 
As I watch the changing of the seasonal colors and weather, I sense the Presence of the One who made it all possible. He calls me to rethink changes in my life and the lives of those around me.
 
I take a few moments and reflect on family and friends. I realize our great-grandchildren are no longer toddlers but are four, seven, and ten. Oh, and a new one on the way in January!
 
I take a look too at those friends who have left us for a better place and give thanks for their presence in our lives. God now has new angels in His heaven looking down on us.
 
Always present God provides our every need. Even a good conversation on a somewhat dark and dreary day.
Featured image attribution: Knopka Ivy on Unsplash