Category: Wilderness

The Bible in 90 Days…

A couple of my friends committed this week to reading the entire Bible in 90 days, and I decided to join them.

I’ll be honest … I’ve never been very great at sticking with Bible reading plans, but I do like the idea of getting through the whole expanse of the Bible in three months.

We’ll see how it goes … I’m also trying to meditate daily, do exercises daily to heal from a hip injury, and get back to my guitar. So it’s a pretty sure thing that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. But at the moment, I’m enjoying the challenge.

I just finished Day 5, which means I’ve read all of Genesis and 15 chapters of Exodus … it’s hard to dwell deeply much on all that happens (and there are a lot of incredible stories in these first 65 chapters!!!).

But several things struck me.

— So many blessings given. I wonder what it would be like if we were more intentional about offering blessing? (One of my favorite compliments given me by a friend was that I seem like someone that would just naturally offer a blessing in the course of a hike, bike ride, etc.)

— Women don’t play a large role, but it makes it more noticeable when they DO — Zipporah saving Moses’ life. The Hebrew midwives Shiprah and Puah saving Hebrew baby boys. Hagar, long one of my favorite Biblical women. Tamar’s craftiness in finding a way to eventually bear her twins, Perez and Zerah.

— The reminder that “Israel” means “One who strives with God,” the new name given to Jacob after he spends the night wrestling with an angel (God), and also the name given the Hebrew people.

— There is a LOT of marrying going on between close relatives — cousins, aunt-nephew, half-siblings… nothing like those Biblical family values! Also, for a culture that really lifts up eldest sons, God sure seems to favor younger brothers — Abel, Jacob, Moses…

— The steady thread of being a foreigner: Abraham saying “I am a stranger and an alien residing among you” (Gen. 24:4), Moses “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land” (as he names his son “Gershon”) (Ex. 2:24), “There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you” (Ex. 12:49).

— The resilience shown in Joseph’s story — despite being sold into slavery by his brothers, apart from his family in a strange land for more than a decade (including years in prison), he says afterward to his brothers, “And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life … God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.” (Gen. 45:5, 7)

What do you think? Wanna join us? What are you noticing?


Trees, poetry, beauty, sitting

Aspen Trees, Matanuska Glacier

Feeling my way through these days, I’m grateful for trees, for wisdom, for beauty, for listening, for poetry.

Today, that wisdom comes from Wendell Berry.

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight./What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

May we find a way beyond fear. May we continue our labor for a just world where all are welcome. May we hear our song and sing it. May we take the time to go among trees and sit still.

And tomorrow I’ll return to the beautifully diverse hospital where I work. Where I’ll stand ready to listen, to companion and comfort the suffering. Where we’ll work together at healing, caring particularly for the poor and vulnerable. Where I’ll continue to speak justice and hope. And I’ll stay close to the trees, and find ways to be still.


I Was Here…

I was here.

I was here yesterday. I am here, in North Bend/Coos Bay, Oregon. My roots, my growing up, my innate sense of place, is here.

And as I walked the trail along the cliffs at Shore Acres State Park again I thought about the connections between the landscape and geography of my home, and the landscape of my spirit.

Ruggedness. Resilience. Windblown. Stormbeaten. Beauty. Tenacity.

I grew up in this coastal logging and fishing community in economic decline in the 70s and 80s. I was well loved, by family and church community.

I biked and played in the woods. I read so much I got kicked out of the library at recess in elementary school.

And I mostly didn’t feel like I fit in. Maybe because I was “the smart one.” Maybe because I didn’t yet understand about how drawn I was to women. Or maybe because I’m human, and which one of us always feels like we truly belong, like we’d truly be loved if we were really known?

And I love the trees, spruce and pine, still standing despite the strong winds and eroding cliffs, bending rather than breaking, storm-carved bonsai. They teach me about long, wide roots. Finding sustenance where you can, even when it isn’t obvious. Being willing to take risks, and surviving against the odds.

I was here. This place also reminds me of the cycles of life, of resurrection, of the way a fallen tree births new life and creates homes for critters, becomes a new thing.

And the beauty.

I woke up this morning having dreamt that a wise woman noted my persistence, that I wouldn’t let “no” stop me. And this morning I’ll run and walk the Prefontaine Memorial 10k, in honor of another runner who was persistent. That I could get to this place of calling myself a runner (yes, slow. yes, occasionally injured. yes, a runner), the girl who came in last in every swim meet and regularly got cut from the JV tennis team. The hills (Oh, the hills…) will remind me of how necessary persistence is in the face of challenge.

And tomorrow I’ll return to Alaska, the rugged, beautiful place that has been my home for 16 years. Seeking beauty. Loving. Helping others be resilient in the midst of challenge.

I am here.