"Before you can search for truth, you must be interested in finding it." -Miroslav Volf

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Did You Feel the (Belated Easter Meditation) Tremble?

Did you feel the mountains tremble? Did you hear the oceans roar?
When the people rose to sing of Jesus Christ the risen one

Did you feel the people tremble? Did you hear the singers roar?
When the lost began to sing of Jesus Christ the risen one

And we can see that God you're moving, A mighty river through the nations
And young and old will turn to Jesus
Fling wide your heavenly gates, Prepare the way of the risen Lord

Open up the doors and let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring your hope, Songs that bring your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice

Did you feel the darkness tremble? When all the saints join in one song
And all the streams flow as one river to wash away our brokenness

And here we see that God you're moving, A time of Jubilee is coming
When young and old return to Jesus
Fling wide your heavenly gates, Prepare the way of the risen Lord


I know it would be highly unoriginal of me to critique the worship music of a Sunday church service. It seems easy for people to pick apart what they don’t like about the music at church and how it could be more to their liking. Actually, I’m probably more inclined to critique the reasons others critique worship; I’m often more uncomfortable with the nature of these criticisms than what it is people are critiquing.

So here’s a praise, a praise that will likely have some indirect critiques laden within. Now I'm smiling. This seems like the kind of thing I’d be teaching my ESL students—discerning the implied critiques of the opposing side of an issue when an author is not directly critiquing but rather praising the virtues of his or her own side. Last week’s lesson. J

Some of you church-folk probably know (or remember) the song “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?” It was one of those songs that, when it arose to church music prominence in the mid-90s (yes, it’s that old, sorry to disillusion anyone), I liked the sound of but as a worship leader had trouble leading it. This probably also reflects my changing tastes. For a while I did enjoy leading songs that, bizarre as the lyrics may have been, had a cool sound—that were in the key of E for example.

But then I grew uncomfortable with words that were a little too horizontal, too us-centered…like “here we are, singing about Jesus, look at us” or “give me stuff Lord, I’m your child and that makes me awesome, yeah.” Caricatures, yes. But some of you may know what I mean and may share my sentiments. So then I eventually preferred songs that were a little more direct and less poetic or cryptic, songs that got right to the point. “God is holy, God is love, my life is yours, you saved me,” etc. But sometimes these songs can be a bit simplistic or too narrow in scope.

Songs that, for example, express the Christian experience exclusively in terms of one theory of atonement (usually penal substitution). Or are exclusively about our emotional-feely, almost romantic-sounding feelings toward God (not necessarily bad but can be overemphasized). Or maybe songs that are repetitive and don't challenge the intellect or stir the imagination. Or just musically uninteresting or unoriginal or overly happy (there are seasons of lament in the Christian life too!).

These are my struggles, and I don’t mean to project them onto others. I often enjoy the worship experience on a given Sunday at a given church and find myself taken into a contemplative, worshipful place. But I also often find myself considering what might be misguided about the message we’re sending to Christians and non-Christians about our theology, values, and Christian experience through the lyrics of many of our worship songs. I understand if that sounds arrogant or judgmental, even if I feel I could justify the noble, pastoral concerns of my criticisms. I may need to do some more heart-checking on this one.

That said, I find myself very excited about being a part of the Christian Church and hopeful about what a prophetic (prophetic as in critical and energizing/empowering, not as in fortune-telling), love-filled, God-fearing, and hope-bringing community we could be (and often are). I guess singing “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble” on Easter Sunday in Portland last weekend was one of those experiences in worship that left me inspired, in touch with the Divine (so I think or hope), and thinking, “yes, this is it. This is our message.”

Why? I used to dislike songs that weren’t personal enough, about me and God. The pendulum has swung extremely far for me, to where I am very uncomfortable with how overly individualized the Christian experience is often made out to be. “Did You—” is a song about us, all of us, not just me and God or you and God.

Also, I believe one of the goals of eschatology (end times study) is to seek a better vision of the future of humanity that gives us a sense of hope and mission now. For me this song is a spectacular vision of what I believe God has promised—the reign of God and the reconciliation of all people.

And the song is theologically rich. I think the song is certainly open to interpretation, and you can feel and think whatever you’d like when you sing, whether your faith is a private and personal or a more public and corporate matter, whether your salvation theology is more exclusive or inclusive, or whether your theology is more liberal and social or conservative and “spiritual.”

I sing this song and see beautiful portraits painted of Biblical and theological themes such as the resurrection of the dead. I see God’s love of a very much alive creation. I see the hope that many, in this life or the next, may eventually acknowledge Jesus for who he is, not necessarily abandoning their sacred religious traditions, but seeing them perhaps fulfilled in Christ. (I know that last statement potentially causes discomfort for both Christians and non-Christians for different reasons. Apologies.)

I see in this song God’s present activity in all nations and cultures, Christian or not. I see the recognition of God’s concern for injustice and the prayer that we would be a community that “dances against” or addresses and fights injustice in all forms, in light of the hope that God will one day use restorative justice to make all things well. I see the call to unity of the various “streams” of the Christian faith for the sake of peace and God’s glory. And I see “Jubliee,” an Old Testament concept that has social implications for the economically hurting as well as being an allusion to God’s universal pardon and forgiveness of sin.

My purpose in writing all this is not to glorify a single song; I’m sure there are more thoughtful, profound songs being sung by churches. I’m not writing about a song, but about an experience I had on Easter Sunday in which the message of Easter was presented to me afresh, filling me with hope not just for my own personal “resurrection” but for the future of humankind, a future made possible by a God filled with love and who is love, a God who desires justice, who intends to make all things right and “re-create” us into a unified, reconciled, diverse human community.

And, also, a God who I believe has charged myself and others to provide a glimpse of this hopeful vision to the world now. And not just by recruiting more people to our cause, but by more boldly and effectively living out our cause with the people we already have (though all are welcome!).

Thank you God, for reminding me of who I am and who we are and who you are; may my life and the life of the Church be more and more in line with our true calling in this world, which I understand as a call to be a source of light, love, hope, reconciliation, justice, healing, acceptance, and peace.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Field Trip!

The weather in Olympia was gorgeous Thursday and Friday, which helped create a lively and summery feel for Olympia’s Arts Walk and also enabled me to run a new personal best 19.5 miles. It also made my first field trip with my students all the more pleasant and lively.

We spent much of the last couple weeks discussing health and nutrition, focusing on such things as diseases related to bad eating habits, what constitutes a healthy diet, and a project that required students to design their own restaurant with high standards for healthy eating.

The main goal of our program is English language learning, of course; though it’s fun, especially with the advanced classes, to get into some more interesting topics that allow students to grow in understanding of more than just language.

What I’m really saying is that I like using my students to help me learn about things in which I’m interested. J

The standard serious-followed-by-silly pictures (at the market):

We took the bus from Evergreen (my first bus ride since China…made me a bit nostalgic) to the New Moon CafĂ© downtown, a restaurant that markets itself as having a lot of healthy options, especially for those with very specific dietary needs. I required my students to write down the ways the restaurant was health-conscious in its menu choices, values, methods, etc.

Then we wandered over to the Farmer’s Market, where I gave my students a sort of scavenger hunt requiring them to find specific vendors and ask questions about their products related to food regulations, health standards, nutrition, etc.

We then walked down to the waterfront and “frolicked” there for a few minutes before catching a bus back to school. Students seemed to have enjoyed the experience. I was a little worried about it not being educational enough, despite my efforts to give them “work” during the trip. I have since realized that students would be perfectly happy with nearly every class being a field trip or a game day.

I’m undecided on the highlight of the morning. Highlight number one had to have been the fact that two tiny Thai girls each ordered more food than I did (and ate nearly all of it).

Highlight number two was observing the growing camaraderie among the group. It’s always special for me to observe a sense of togetherness grow in a community, and I really do believe there is a noticeable change in the quality of the classroom time that occurs as my students continue to become more comfortable with and trusting of one another.

Sadly, there is a lot of turnover at EF, with new students always coming and other students leaving, depending on the length of their stay. Lots of goodbyeswhich several of my students, in light of their impending departure, are dreading.

By the way, that’s a pretty authentic reaction of fear from Chloe (Taiwanese, being “strangled” by me) in that second picture.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What To Do About Those Bad Influences?

Passage 1: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Passage 2: “Now all the tax-gatherers and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’" (Luke 15:1-2)

Maybe not an obvious juxtaposition of Scriptures, though I do sense a tension here.

I recently had a conversation with a high school student I’ve met a couple times before but never conversationally gone past casual, light topics. What I expected to be a brief exchange of pleasantries turned out to be a one-to-one, heart-to-heart outpouring of feelings about identity, spirituality, and friendship.

The student does not consider himself a Christian. That detail is important because of what happened. Apparently one of his closest friends, who is a Christian, recently participated in some kind of mega-youth-rally-type-gathering that had some kind of profound effect on him.

I don’t know the details of his experiences or process, but apparently the conclusion he reached was that he needed to tell his friend (with whom I spoke) that he could no longer be friends with him, because he wasn’t a good influence on him or was harmful to his “walk” or something along those lines.

This kid was hurt by his friend (obviously) and obviously felt like there was a disconnect between being a professing Christian and, in his opinion, unlovingly disowning one’s friends. We talked through it a bit, trying to figure it out together. I jokingly asked, in pondering the ways this student might be a bad influence on his Christian friend, if maybe it was his pot-smoking. He laughed and clarified that it wasn’t that. In trying to encourage him to feel good about himself, I also tried to help him see what his Christian friend might be thinking, regardless of the validity of his actions.

I’m guessing he heard a preacher/speaker that told him that to be a better Christian or love God more that he needed to cut out bad influences like non-Christians that “bring him down” or something like that. While I don’t recall that any of my Christian mentors growing up encouraged me in this way, I remember this sentiment.

Maybe it comes from good intentions—a philosophy that, considering how impressionable teenagers are, to become a greater disciple of Christ one needs to be surrounded by like-minded people. This will increase the likelihood that conversation is more Jesus-y and less, um, potty-mouth-y.

I certainly have some concerns about this philosophy, as I’m sure many might.

I worry that the wrong message is sent to Christian youth about the role of the Church in the world, one that fosters a sense of exclusivism and separatism that I’m not sure is really our call. I worry that we are suggesting that swearing less or making fewer “suggestive” comments is the goal of the Christian life, rather than growing in one’s ability to love well.

I question the assumption that youth group kids are necessarily holier than non youth group kids. I question that the perhaps well-intentioned, parental desire to protect our youth might have the effect of making them intolerant, judgmental people as they grow older.

I’m nervous about what seems like a lack of love shown for those disowned and judged by a one’s desire to avoid the “evil” in others. I worry about the potential of becoming very inward, seeing your spirituality as something isolated from the world around you, something you can do in a box, disconnected from the real world.

Maybe I’m overreacting, assuming this is a more widespread problem than it is. Though I suspect that this isn’t an isolated incident. And, I don’t really know the Christian kid in question, though I’m not really critiquing him as much as a philosophy that I sense many more youth than just him (and in some form, adults?) are exposed to.

But to be fair, maybe the kid knows himself well. Perhaps he feels like he’s at a point in his development where certain influences are detrimental to his overall health as a person and a follower of Christ. Perhaps he knows that for this season in his life, certain ties to need to be cut so that he can more fully become who God wants him to be, eventually making him better able to re-enter those relationships with more grounding, able to retain his identity when in community with those very different than him.

Maybe he knows his faith is weak and needs the support of an environment that affirms the behaviors and values he wants to have. He might have seen unhealthy behaviors in himself and, having traced these behaviors to the influence of a particular individual, had to painfully make the choice he did.

Or maybe an adult Christian with powerful, emotionally-charged rhetoric manipulated him into a bad choice. I don’t know the situation fully, other than what I can assume based on what the non-Christian student I talked to expressed. This student seemed open-minded, willing to consider his life, even suggesting he is currently reading about different religions.

He didn’t seem overconfident in his current non-religiosity, and he even liked a lot of what some expressions of faith seem to value. I talked about the Quaker denomination at one point while talking about my own Christian faith, and he got really excited about that, knowing a little bit about Quakerism himself. Sounds like a kid who is searching for Truth and Meaning and very aware of that search in himself.

Anyway, I was glad to have played the part of comforter, and tried to be supportive while being as non-partial as I could, even trying my best to defend his ex-friend’s actions as reasonable. But it honestly bothered me a bit, probably because I’m extra sensitive about the message we Christians are sending with our actions—be we teens or adults—about who God is and what the abundant life of being a Christian is all about.

I know these things are to an extent situational; not every kid will act in the same way in every situation, just as some Christian adults feel comfortable drinking alcohol while others, because of its connection to their own “dark past,” do not.

I guess I just hope that youth leaders today are training up youth to be disciples that are on the path toward being people like Jesus, in the sense that they are able to immerse themselves in the world of people who are the most “wretched” of them all, who challenge their words and actions, who tempt them, and yet able to retain their identity, their sense of confidence in who they are and in what they believe, and their sense of calling to love and communicate grace to people who need it most.

WWJD? He would probably not need to separate himself from others out of fear of being corrupted by them. Then again, Jesus was an extraordinary person, certainly possessing greater discipline and self-awareness than myself or anyone I know. So, I don’t really know. I do know that I talked to a kid that felt burned and devastated by a Christian. That I find disappointing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Talking About Religion Well: A Recent Success Story

This past Thursday I gave a school-wide lecture (about 160 or so students) as a part of our weekly lecture series at EF International School at Evergreen State College. The lecture series is generally focused on some dimension of American culture. One of our veteran teachers traditionally has given the lecture, though it’s recently been opened up to other teachers. So I decided to sign up, and present on a particularly challenging topic—religion in America.

Challenging not just because religion can be a taboo topic in the U.S.; challenging because I would be speaking to a room filled with Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, atheists/agnostics, likely several other faiths, and likely many who are generally disinterested in religion. And challenging because with a language barrier, sometimes people hear something that isn’t said or fail to hear something that is said, in which case people can become defensive and accusatory. Plenty of risk involved.

And yet, religion is what I know, where my interests lie. More than that, my interest is in talking about religion in a way that is meaningful, fruitful, productive, respectful, clarifying, illuminating, reconciliatory, and hopeful.

I was pleased with the results of my lecture and the extra hours of research and preparation that went into my talk and slideshow that were unpaid (Research is its own reward, right?). I spent the time tracing the development of the various religions represented in the U.S. I first opened by encouraging the students that this was not a time to defend your faith, but to learn and listen.

I also comically modeled some appropriate and inappropriate ways to ask questions of one another, favoring questions asked with genuine, warm inquisitiveness (in wording and in tone) and discouraging questions that are more accusatory or mocking. I was a little concerned that some students would, for example, mock atheism as foolishness rather than as a credible way to understand the world, and vice versa—the atheists belittling the religious in the room.

I presented some of the minority religions in the U.S, than did a sort of “top five countdown” in order of least to most represented religion in the U.S.: Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity. I talked about the U.S. history of each faith and tried to present some of the basics of each faith. I was especially apologetic about this, trying to make clear that I am not an expert on non-Christian faiths and creating several moments during the lecture for students’ response in correction (no one corrected me, for whatever reason).

I guess it went as well as it could. Students were fairly responsive during the brief discussion times I created between each section of my presentation (e.g. “tell someone next to you something new you just learned about Islam.”) There were of course students talking, sleeping, staring at me having no idea what I was saying. But I guess I figure if even 10-20 students heard me and learned something, even simply realizing that talking about religious faith in a pluralistic community can not only be done respectfully, but is worth doing...then it was worth it.

I asked students at the end if they felt there was any value to interfaith dialogue, any point to it. I got a few short responses that all pretty much summed it up. “Respect” said a student from Spain. “Tolerance” said a student from Venezuela. “Peace” said another student from Spain, to which I believe a Saudi Arabian student added “no more fighting.” I only added that there are serious crises in the world that could be common causes for differing faiths. I was pleased that they seemed to "get" my message.

I was really tempted to go fishing for feedback afterwards, mostly to give me peace of mind that I hadn’t upset anyone. Not that upsetting someone is inherently bad. I know I can’t always control that. But I didn't really do any such fishing. However, a few comments were made to me. One student told me he expected me to be preachy or condemning and was surprised at how respectful and honoring the lecture was. Another thought it was a bad topic because talking about religion is taboo, but essentially said that I did it in a way that worked. Another was inspired by all that she learned that day and seemed to find it valuable on her own spiritual quest.

A potentially sticky situation came right after the talk. A Muslim student asked me why, if Jews are supposed to be peaceful people, the Jewish people in Palestine something, something (I didn’t catch his words, but I got his point). Knowing this student, I’m not convinced it was total sincere curiosity instead of a leading question, but I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. I told him I didn’t know why any better than he did. I asked what he thought. He said he didn’t know and was just really confused.

To avoid any hint of accusation, I just told him that in Christianity we have this same problem of people doing “violence” especially with their words, when our faith is at its heart a peace-centered religion. I told him maybe it’s because we can’t live up to our ideals, or we’re scared and threatened and need to be in control, or that extremists in our faiths shouldn’t represent the heart of the faith…just what came to the top of my head. We didn’t really resolve the question, though I don’t think he expected resolution.

I am pleased with the outcome of the lecture, and I guess feel like I should probably trust that God used the time to plant seeds…seeds of reconciliation, of a deeper search for Truth, for understanding, for God. Hard to know for sure what good, if any, will come of it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mariners Opening Day 2011 and Wisdom From Andy Dufresne

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” I had to remind myself of the famous Shawshank Redemption line last night and will likely replay it in my mind repeatedly throughout the year. Joann got me tickets to the Mariners home opener last night, the first opening day game I’ve ever been too. What a sweetheart.

And she’s trying so hard to understand what intentional walks are, why the home team bats in the bottom of the inning, and why the whole stadium stands up during the 7th inning for their ritual singing as if they were at a church service. What a sweetheart.

Anyway, it was fun to be there, despite the horrible baseball taking place before us. We were one of the few who stayed all through the game along with the other true, devoted baseball lovers as well as plenty of drunken fans. The Mariners gave up ten runs in the fourth inning, losing by a final score of 12-3.

Everything before the game was great—a celebratory introduction of the team and a nice tribute to the late Dave Niehaus, famous Mariner broadcaster. Then it was all downhill. Yikes. What an ugly, painful game. At least I had my gal to cuddle with…and the hope that you can only improve upon such a horrible game. I hope.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Four Stages of Culture Shock: Applicable to Dogs, Too

Back to class and rain after a sunny weekend in Bend, OR. Joann is on spring break and wanted to see old friends and indulge her nostalgia by returning to her former home of three years. It was 70 degrees Friday, and was in the low 40s Saturday. Quite a different world from the 1-5 corridor.

We recently discussed the concept of culture shock in one of my ESL classes, using a four-stage model to discuss the process an individual goes through in learning how to “be” in a new cultural situation. These stages are: the “honeymoon” phase, the “shock” phase, the “balancing” phase and the “integration” phase. There are other workable models as well.

One could probably guess the essence of each phase, but to briefly elaborate:

Honeymoon—The newness is fascinating; everything seems a bit surreal, magical, intriguing; one has a basically positive and maybe glamorous view of the new culture, eager to discover more and experience everything

Shock—the rose-colored glasses come off, and the negatives emerge; some of the habits or traditions of the new culture become annoying or frustrating; homesicknesses can set in, a longing for familiarity; a phase of disillusionment

Balancing—a person gets used to the new culture; the positives and negatives of the culture are recognized as one gains a more realistic perspective, not being overly idealistic nor overly critical or dismissive of the culture; one begins to see how to balance one’s own customs and values with that of the new culture, learning how to function well in a foreign setting

Integration—one feels at home in the new setting, having somewhat mastered how to live normally and participate well; a sort of harmony is found between your own worldview and habits and that of the host country; one becomes more bicultural than mono-cultural, feeling at home in two worlds

Most of my students get the gist of this movement; learning to articulate in English these concepts in addition to their own experiences is really our primary focus. And as I was attempting to explain this process in class, I realized a striking parallel to being a newlywed. And actually, in the past few days, several examples of culture shock, taking on a variety of expressions, have come to mind:

Marriage. I might be projecting and generalizing here. Most experience a literal honeymoon, of course, spending several days traveling in a brief season that will not be representative of normal life. Shock seems to happen upon realizing that it doesn’t work to be as selfish as you used to be, and that your spouse has to put up with you in your more wretched, unpleasant, or even just plain, ordinary moments.

Perhaps balancing comes upon learning how to be yourself and to express your preferences, wants, and needs while recognizing your responsibility to be looking out for these same things in the other; it may also involve gaining a proper perspective on your spouse—cherishing what’s lovely in him/her while being sacrificial, accommodating, or simply redefining “annoying” as “endearing.”

Integration may not be arriving at the perfect marriage, but perhaps at least having processes in place that allow two people to grow together knowing how to celebrate one another, accept one another, challenge and be challenged by one another. (I’m no expert…it’s not even been eight months yet for me. :) )

The Mariners. I watched the Mariners opening game, which they won. It was a fun game. But they’re not a great team, and the “shock” will eventually come as they start losing more than they win this season, I’d guess. Balancing will probably mean accepting that this season is about developing young talent and enjoying those victories while bearing the growing pains. Perhaps integration involves actually measuring success not by wins-losses but by player development. I’m a nerd.

China. Aside from the initial grossly hot and humid weather, my first days in China were definitely a honeymoon. I don’t know that I experienced the kind of “low” that might be characteristic of culture shock, though I certainly had to get used to the unpleasant realities of life in China, be it the spitting, dirty streets, unpleasant weather, inability to communicate well, being a spectacle, feeling constantly not in control, and being separated from friends, family, and future wife. Balancing came over time, for sure, and I might not have fully realized my integration until I returned to the U.S. and felt slightly homesick for China while finding aspects of U.S. life lacking.

Church shopping. I don't care much for church shopping. It’s so hard to get a feel for a church just by a few short visits, at least considering what’s important to me in a church. I wish someone would just tell me where to go. We haven’t been consistent church-goers since we left the church plant in November, but we’ve found one that we occasionally go to. I suppose I had a sort of rapid honeymoon phase with a church in Olympia. The honeymoon lasted only a few minutes, as I found I really liked the worship space and the location of the city.

The “shock” then took over on Sunday as I must have made a mental list of ten or so things I didn’t care much for during the worship experience. I’m not promoting being critical of church. Critical in the Biblically prophetic sense of calling out the church for its shortcomings so that it can find its way again—yes, I think that’s important. I suppose I walk a fine line here between prophetic and cynical.

I noted everything from the shortage of older generations, to the overly individualistic and not-communitarian-enough worship lyrics, to the way communion was done, to the simplistic sermon, to the fact that no one talked to us and instead seemed to stay in their familiar social groups (as I feel like is common, maybe especially in churches heavily dominated by younger people?). I think I’m fairly aware of what comes next, actions probably paralleling the latter stages of culture shock—distinguishing ideals from reality, giving people more grace, celebrating what good is being done, finding ways to be a part of the solution rather than simply pointing out the problem. Or go to another church. Not that similar challenges won’t emerge. :)

Dogs. This is actually what inspired this post. I was chatting with a man outside my hotel room this weekend who had a labradoodle. She was quite jumpy, though he had her restrained fairly well (the dog, not his wife). He made some comment like “she thinks she’s invincible and hasn’t figured out how the world works yet” (again, the dog), explaining the need to keep her on a leash so that she doesn't, in her eagerness to discover the world, run out into traffic, for example. Perhaps a stretch, but my mind went there: the honeymoon of being a puppy in a new world will wear off as she faces the “shock” of rules and limitations; maybe a “balancing” will come upon recognizing the benefits of having an attentive caretaker and owner contrasted with the downsides of not being fully “free,” paving the way for integration of learning how to hold in tension the reality of being both an animal and a pet.

Other possible parallels:
• Starting a new job
• The aftermath of a religious conversion
• An impulse buy you’re now stuck with
• Beginning a book that turns out to not be what you expected
• Something to do with flavored coffee

Any other ideas?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

To All Ye Bend Lovers

I understand the beauty and appeal of Bend more fully now. Joann and I are visiting for the weekend; she lived here for three years. I set off at 6:40 this morning for Pilot Butte, a little "mound" in the center of town. I jogged/hiked to the base and up to the top, to arrive at a spectacular view of the Cascades, glistening in the morning sunlight. The Sisters, Jefferson, Bachelor, Three-Fingered-Jack, Hood, and others.

This is not my photo, and it doesn't capture the lighting nor all the mountains, but it's a start. What a sublime sight, especially in the quiet and light of the morning. And as a runner, it's even more rewarding to "earn" such a view having trekked a ways to get there. A nice way to end our weekend here. Nice work, glaciers.

Related: why does it seem like we often look at something like the Golden Gate bridge and applaud the brilliance of humankind, then look at a mountain range and applaud the brilliance of God? Should we applaud God for both? Or maybe for neither?