Faith & Amazing People


I hate when you get a hair cut and no matter how much the hairdresser blow dries your neck, and even if you go home and strip down naked and brush yourself completely off with a towel… it always feels like you are wearing a turtleneck made of human hair.

This post is not about hair cuts, or wearing clothing made of human hair.  It is a brief thought on faith.  My thoughts on faith.  If this essay were about Catholic faith and takled about the saints, most specifically St. Francis of Assisi then yes, we could talk about turtlenecks of human hair.   St. Francis had a thing for wearing garments made of human hair.  That was his way of saying “I love you” to God. 

I am nervous to write about faith since I have spent my whole life doubting God exists.  I grew up secular, not a hint of religion in our family.  On top of that – my grandfather – the most influential person in my life, was a scientist.  He had a very pragmatic view of the world, in his mind if it could not be proven scientifically, it did not exist.


Like every other person on earth, excluding some monks living on a mountain in Bhutan.  Check that – all the people living in Bhutan.  The rest of us fear death. Which is totally ok.  It’s scary to think about not existing.  Apparently religion helps you live with that fear.   Believing that a) God will take care of you or b) God has created this awesome after life place for you to go to, where you get to meet all your deceased family and friends.  And you can eat all the pasta you want and not get fat.  (I stole that from Albert Brooks).

I have no idea why I am here, or where I am going.  Like my grandfather, I have not been able to grasp the concept of a singular God.  Maybe religion is not for all of us.  For me, faith feels bigger than a singular God.  Faith, spirituality seem different, and less likely to get people to start a war.

My faith is people.  Faith in the fact that no matter who you pray to or even if you do pray, that there are some amazing, giving, loving, caring, compassionate people in the world.  There doesn’t seem to be one religion that owns all the awesome people.  

bandonsunsetThese amazing people run into burning buildings, jump into rivers to save kittens, or simply smile and acknowledge a homeless person. Maybe for all these people this is their way to say “I love you” to God.   I don’t know.  Do you know?  





Sunrise from Rowena Crest, Oregon.

For a couple of Sundays now I have been getting up early and heading east into the darkness of pre-dawn.  The camera and tripod loaded up to catch sunrise pictures in the eastern Columbia Gorge.  Being outside, far from the city, as the day begins and the sun breaks the horizon – that is my happy place.

One of my creative inspirations is the YouTube channel by Thomas Heaton.  He is a photographer from England who produces fantastic videos about his adventures in photography, near his home in England and all over the world. 

Silent except for the cry of the hawk.

He is collaborating with the BBC on a project called #realhappiness.  In a nutshell – encouraging all of us to get up early and get out in nature.  Thomas’s involvement is soliciting photographers (that means you) to submit sunrise photos from their happy place to the instagram hashtag #realhappiness.  Check out this short video and be inspired.


Catherine Creek – Wildflower Mecca

There are some iconic wildflower hikes in the Columbia Gorge and Catherine Creek is at the top of that list.  With its dry climate the wildflower season comes earlier to Catherine Creek.  It’s a great time to head east to the Old Highway 8 turnoff.

Old Highway 8 between Bingen and Lyle, Washington.

In early Spring – the landscape on the dry side of the Gorge is greener than it will ever be – especially this year when we had a long wet and snowy winter.  There is a lot of anticipation for the wildflower season.

Sunrise at Rowland Lake – near Catherine Creek.

The Catherine Creek area has several options for hikers – from easy and all access to more challenging and longer hikes up into the hills.  The view of the Columbia River cannot be beat no matter where you go.  Looking east you see the Rowena Gap and the town of Lyle. 

Looking east from Catherine Creek.

But we are here for the wildflowers.  A couple of days ago the Camas were everywhere putting the rolling hills in a sea of purple.  Making the bees very happy!

Bee works a Camas bloom.

And on this day – I found a rare albino Camas.  This flower really stood out amongst his purple kin. 

Rare albino Camas flower.

I came early but soon the parking lot was full and I was joined by many others.  It’s fun to be able to see others out enjoying the early wildflowers.



It’s trillium time

trilliumraindropsMy recipe for happiness begins here with this flower.  The trillium.  Three white pedals, three broad leaves.  So simple yet so perfect.

Their peak bloom time is brief.  Walking in Forest Park, here in Portland, Oregon – they are busting out all over.  And each one is lovelier than the last.


Yesterday I interrupted my routine – stopping in the woods for a walk instead of commuting with thousands on the freeway.  And that made all the difference.  Yes this is a nod to Robert Frost.  And William Stafford – “is there a better moment than now?”



Walk with Thee


As we enter these last few days of 2016 – I have been thinking a lot about the strange year we are ending and wondering what is to come in 2017.  As I write these words – people around me are wrapping up their to do lists, making resolutions perhaps, taking this week of down time to recalibrate.  Some just look out the window.

Where do we find comfort in these troubled times? The words of great writers? The creative vision of artists? The gospel? 

There are few voices in this world sweeter than that of Patsy Cline.  I am not Christian but this refrain as sung by Patsy keeps playing in my head.

Just a closer walk with Thee

Grant it, Jesus, is my plea

Daily walking close to Thee

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

Let us quietly end this tumultuous year and bring in the new year with hope and goodwill and love for each other.