The Redwoods

Torb-Kat RW

 

My brother and his wife came all the way from Sweden to celebrate Thanksgiving with us last year.  I took them to the Redwoods.  It is always such a special place … majestic, peaceful, awe-inspiring beauty.

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The Oregon Garden

Gaillardia

 

This is the last of my Oregon Garden collection.  The Gaillardia above turned out to be one of my favorites.  They are so bold and bright.  It was definitely a  blessing having the early morning rain.

Oregon Garden in Silverton

 

Blue Unknowns_MG_5434

 

center lawn

 

This is the view of the main lawn from the Axis Fountain.  They have quite a variety of gardens from Conifers and wetlands to a pet friendly and children’s garden.

 

 

Pink water lilies

The Day Lilies were abundant.

Orange Day Lilies

Yellow Day Lily

 

There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet.

A Quiet Place

My favorite was the Bosque Reflecting Ponds, a central plaza featuring four brick ponds and 40 planter boxes, each planted with a single tree.

Reflecting Ponds

 

The Signature Oak is an Oregon Heritage Tree that is more than 400 years old.

Signature Oak

June was fortunately a perfect time to appreciate the bounty of color.

Oregon Garden in Silverton

 

Penstemon Red Riding Hood

 

Red Poppy Field

 

If you live in the Pacific Northwest and need to get away for a few days, I can easily recommend the Silverton area.  The Oregon Garden Resort is a very nice place and they have frequent deals through Travel Zoo.  They show movies in the Garden during the summer, in October scarecrows are displayed throughout.

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And Silverton is a Happening Place with loads of activities planned throughout the year:  A Bloom Quilt Show, Brewer’s Tasting Dinner at the Resort, Fireworks on the 4th of July, and a Car Show in August.  Silver Falls State Park with the trail of ten falls is just a short drive.  Here is a photo of Winter Falls (check out my earlier post:  All Creation Sings His Praises).

 

Winter Falls

 

 

 

So, just maybe I will see you there someday.

Fountain

 

Oregon Garden Resort

 

All Creation Sings His Praises

Winter Falls

John Muir exclaimed, “As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.  I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche.  I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.”

I recently enjoyed hiking in the Silver Falls State Park in my home state of Oregon.

To be the first human on the trail in the early morning … approaching a waterfall … the sound of it crescendos as you draw nearer,  causing an uncertain yet knowing anticipation … a reward difficult to express, …  but certain praise to the Creator … for a beauty so serene that melts “self” and it’s concerns away.   Time with my Creator is always well spent.

The “Winter Falls” is a 134 foot waterfall that relies on winter runoff and is its best in winter, spring, and early summer.

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  (John Muir, 1938) ….. I wonder if John Muir was acquainted with Saint Francis.  Happy Trails!

The Splendor of Bandon

Bandon Splendor-4388Here is a very fortunate moment in time when the sun, clouds, waves, plume of spray, the silhouetted rocks and the fishing boat were all lined up perfect.  Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good:)

Escaping to Bandon

Bandon Sunset_4378

 

We are off to the beach … Bandon By The Sea … where time slows down, salt is in the air, waves are crashing into majestic rocks, and the beach is made for long walks allowing for long conversations with the Creator about what’s heavy on your heart.

A New Command; Easter 2013

After Jesus identifies Judas as the betrayer and sends him out he addresses his disciples:

“Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.  If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son himself, and will glorify him at once.  My children, I will be with you only a little longer.  You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now:  Where I am going, you cannot come.”  

“A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”    (Jn. 13: 31-35)

The Embrace of Love

 

This is painting I noticed walking through the Vatican Museum last year while “Chasing Francis of Assisi”.  It caught my attention because I thought Pedro Cano was able to create the heart felt emotion of a loving embrace between two men, Pope Paul II and Cardinal Wyszynski.

I came from a family that never hugged or outwardly showed loving affection.  But with time well spent around my wife’s family and in our “Christian family” circle I have come to truly appreciate a hug.   We all need to be valued and accepted as we are.  And I believe that we as individuals are beginning to love one another … no matter what church we are attending … nondenominational, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, Franciscan ….

But what about our various church denominations and their leadership?  Are our churches really exhibiting the love of Christ?  Does the “world” know the collective “body of Christ” by the love we have for one another?  Are we working together in our communities to help the poor, feed the hungry, and house our homeless??  Could we not accomplish so much more for Jesus by working together?  


Jesus is alive!  “Peace be with you.”

Peace Be With You

 

Let us break bread together.

The Emmaus Meal

 

And love one another.  “The most excellent way.”

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”     (I Cor. 13)

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

St. Brigida Communion

 

“This, this is the God we adore, 

  Our faithful, unchangeable friend,

Whose love is as great as his power,

And neither knows measure nor end.”    Joseph Hart (1712-1768)

How can we understand such a deep, infinite, compelling, and transforming love?  I can not but only begin to comprehend it in the very same love He has lavished on me through my family and friends.  Thank you for your Living Word … may my will be washed in submission … yielding and rejoicing in Heaven’s best for the sake of others and for the glory of your name.  Amen

Have a blessed Easter.

Humble Servanthood: Jesus Washing the Disciples’ Feet

a chalk and grisaille on paper by Edelfelt from www.turnbacktogod.com

a chalk and grisaille on paper by Edelfelt from http://www.turnbacktogod.com

After his ‘triumphal entry’ to Jerusalem seated on a donkey’s colt Jesus predicts his death.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me.  Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?  ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name!”  

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”  The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said and angel had spoken to him.”   John 12: 23-29

Now Jesus and his chosen few withdraw to an upper room in Jerusalem to partake in the Passover Feast.   Here he institutes the “Memorial” of the Eucharist:

“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.  For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way , after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  Mt.26: 26-29, Mk.14: 22-25, Lk.22: 17-20.

He then makes hints of being betrayed by one of them at the table and they question each other who it might be.

It seems absurd, amidst this setting, but it is presumed due to Jesus’ indication that the coming of his ‘kingdom’ is imminent, some of the apostles begin to discuss which of them is the greatest.  How can this be?  After walking with Jesus throughout his ministry, listening to his teaching regarding the nature of this ‘kingdom’, how can they not understand?

Of course, now, this is so easy from my current perspective.   I am not being persecuted under the power of the Roman Empire longing for a new ‘earthly kingdom.’  So what does Jesus do?  He begins to wash the feet of his disciples.

Painting by Ford Madox Brown 1865; from www.turnbacktogod.com

Painting by Ford Madox Brown 1865; from http://www.turnbacktogod.com

“A dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest.  Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.  But you are not to be like that.  Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.  For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?  Is it not the one who is at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves.  You are those who stood by me in my trials.  And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  Lk.22: 24-30

a painting of Jesus washing feet at Last Supper; from www.turnbacktogod.com

a painting of Jesus washing feet at Last Supper; from http://www.turnbacktogod.com

“Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.  The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”  Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”  Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”  “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”  Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.  And you are clean, though not every one of you.”  For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.”

“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.  “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  Jn.13: 1-17

I can only wonder how long before the disciples fully discerned the incredible intensity of Jesus’ love for them and the nature of his humility toward them.  He, their Lord and Teacher stooped to serve their needs, and they (we) should do the same for one another.  This example of humility in servanthood is what we “followers of Jesus” are to show one another.  I find this very convicting.  Our western culture is so ‘me first’ oriented that I will truly need an extra measure of grace to not walk in the path of least resistance.

A contemporary painting of Jesus washing feet; from 'Words of Life-shadowlilies.wordpress'

A contemporary painting of Jesus washing feet; from ‘Words of Life-shadowlilies.wordpress’

The sovereignty of Christ from the cross is a new sovereignty.  It has destroyed forever the formula that might is right.  It has put to shame the self-assertion of false heroism.  It has surrounded with imperishable dignity the completeness of sacrifice.  It has made clear to the pure heart that the prerogative of authority is wider service.  The divine King rules forever by dying.       Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901)

My dear Jesus, Lord and Teacher, this example of humility and service … preceding the ultimate humiliation of the “Way of Suffering” …. crucified for all humanity … Even though you possessed the very nature of God, you claimed nothing for Your own advantage but emptied yourself taking the form of a slave.  Thank you for coming to serve and giving your life as a ransom for many.  I fear that I am too self-centered and selfish.  Help me to become more like you.  Show me how to humbly wash the feet of my brothers and sisters, bringing glory to the Son of Man.    Amen

 

 

 

The Cathedral of Assisi

The Chiesa di San Rufino is the Duomo or the Cathedral of Assisi.  The cathedral is the seat of the local bishop.  Rufino was Assisi’s first bishop, it’s Patron Saint, and was martyred and buried here in the third century.  It was inspirational to be in the same church where St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized.  It was also the bishop blessed Francis’ “spiritual awakening.”  It is still the official baptismal site for the village of Assisi.

The Romanesque facade is believed to have been completed in the early 13th century.  The interior is Neoclassical.  It was beautifully restored after a 1997 earthquake.

The facade is divided vertically into three sections and horizontally into three stories with a row of blind arches between the the first two.  All three portals are richly sculpted with red marble relief in the lunettes and geometric designs and figures around the entries.

Two lions stand guard at the central portal, with one eating a Christian martyr and the other clutching a ram in its claws.

Over the central portal the red marble relief depicts Christ enthroned beneath the moon and a star, with the Madonna del Latte to the left and St. Rufinus to the right.

The central rosette shows symbols of the Evangelists surrounding the intricate rose which is supported by three extraordinary figures standing on unidentifiable animals.

As I entered the rear of the church my eyes were immediately drawn to the two fine statues of St. Francis and St. Clare by Giovanni Dupre in 1888.

artistically edited due to poor lighting to an ‘antique’ style

artistically edited due to poor lighting to an ‘antique’ style

The next attraction was actually the floor.  Large glass panels exposed parts of the ninth century foundation.  Apparently after the 1997 earthquake inspectors discovered graves under the paving stones.  It was a common practice to bury people in the churches.  I have seen this in ancient Scandinavian churches as well.  It is also likely that this church was built upon old Roman temple ruins.  A cistern is also visible from the rear of the church.  The Diocesan museum is underneath the church as part of the foundation of the early church of San Rufino where the saint’s sarcophagus and ancient art can be seen.

The floor also displayed large red marble reliefs, one with the Franciscan Tau and the other with “abba Father.”

The baptismal font has a black iron gate around it and a terracotta cover over it (installed in 1882).  It is here in the San Rufino that Francis was baptized circa 1181 and Clare was baptized in 1194.  Eighteen years later it was here that Clare heard Francis teach and decided to dedicate her life to following Jesus.  Emperor Frederick II is believed to have been baptized here in the early 1190s.

Above the entrance to the chapel to the right stands a fresco by Giovanni Andrea Carlone, The Sacrifice of Elijah.  It depicts the contest between the prophets of Baal and Elijah.  Each prepared to sacrifice a bull and called on God to light the fire.  Elijah’s prayer was answered the prophet of Baal was not.  The people consequently returned to the one and only true living God and killed the prophets who had attempted to lead them astray.

There is also a beautiful Processional banner from the early 16th century which is variously attributed to Berto de Giovanni or Dono Doni and was incorporated as the altarpiece of the  Altare di San Giuseppe in San Rufino in 1670.  It depicts St. Joseph showing the Virgin’s wedding ring to an audience of kneeling men and women with a landscape of Assisi behind.

The predella (the base of the alterpiece) contains three panels depicting the Holy Family with SS Antony of Padua (on the left) and Bernardino of Siena (on the right) by Dono Doni.

The slide show has photos of Pope John Paul II and of the rose window looking from the inside with filters to appreciate the detail.

As always, with any visit to an inspirational setting such as the Chiesa di San Rufino, all the photos in the world can not capture the “Holy Spirit’s” touch on my heart or soul when sitting in this cathedral … all alone … in absolute silence.  I can hear Him “calling me” … “Come follow me.”

I can only answer with the simple prayer … Here I am Lord.  Show me how.  I am willing.  Help me stay on your path.

For Marge and the Dealy family, with all our love.

This world is not my home.  I’m just passing through.

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know I have no friend like you.

If heaven’s not my home, then Lord what will I do?

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

They’re expecting me and that’s one thing I know

My Saviour pardoned me and now I onward go.

I know he’ll take me through, though I am weak and poor

And I can’t feel at home in this world any more.

Just up in Gloryland we’ll live eternally.

The saints on every hand are shouting victory.

Then the songs of sweetest praise drift back from heaven’s shore.

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

I have a loving family just up in Gloryland

And I don’t expect to stop until I shake God’s hand.

They’re waiting now for me in heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you.

If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do?

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

 

 

 

Keeping Watch

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“STAY  HERE  AND  KEEP  WATCH  WITH  ME.”

Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane

“Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.  “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?”  he asked Peter.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.  Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting?  Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us go!  Here comes my betrayer.”    (Matthew 26: 36-45)

This passage has always been a sobering one to me.  I can so easily identify with the disciples.  “The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  If ever there was an area in my spiritual life that needed improvement this is it.  Becoming like Francis and shirking all possessions, wealth, and position would in some ways make this process easier …. but what a price!   Certainly there must be a ‘middle road’ of sorts for a “post modern Christian” like myself.

As I embark on this ‘pilgrimage’ I am hoping that I will be able to balance the role of “photographer” and that of “pilgrim”.  I hope to find (perhaps I will need to “make”) time to spend in prayer and meditation.  I have set a goal of attempting spend all such time NOT thinking of ‘self’ but rather waiting in silence for what God puts on my heart.  This will likely be very difficult.

We ‘pilgrims’ that are “Chasing Francis” all desire to become more and more like Jesus as we follow him.   “Stay here and keep watch for us.”