Friday, May 28, 2010

A Solid Foundation

Last weekend I went to a conference with 170 other folks. (The photo here is my favorite scene from the conference grounds.) I had met just two of them beforehand, but didn't know either of them well at all. Unlike many of the other conferences I've attended, the purpose of this one was not relationship-building, so I met a lot of people but didn't form lasting bonds with them. It was easy to focus on the training, so I learned quite a bit and it was well worth my time.

On the personal side, I learned a few things, too. According to all the tests I've taken in my life, I'm an abstract-random learner, a Golden Retriever personality, and have strong co-dependent characteristics. All of these traits come together to make me generally very patient with other people. In fact, I can be tolerant to a fault, but I digress.

The conference was populated by folks from all walks of life, and from all parts of the state. Some of them probably have a spiritual outlook similar to my own, but many of them come from very different traditions and perspectives. That's okay, and I like to hear about others' life journeys, but last weekend I ended up feeling quite alone. I needed to know that my God was there, and I needed to be reminded of the depth of relationship I have with Him.

It has become my practice to read a Psalm on Saturday night, to help prepare myself for the Sunday morning worship service. The passage last weekend was Psalm 51, and I felt drawn to a topic that I usually shy away from: my sin and God's judgment.

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,
And done what is evil in Thy sight,
So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak,
And blameless when Thou dost judge.

It was totally comforting to contemplate the absoluteness of God. He is holy and will not abide by sin. He punishes transgressors. And yet... He has extended His loving compassion and mercy to all who ask. The Father sent the Son as Savior of the world, not to condemn but to claim. What struck me last weekend, in that very beautiful setting, in the midst of some who are working out their own opinions of god, was the solidity of my faith. The foundation of my spiritual journey is the God of the Bible, who has set forth His expectations and has punished sinners according to their due. But the hope and joy of my faith is that this same God condescended to make a way for sinners -- especially me -- to be near to Him now and forever.

I am so very thankful that this is not my opinion, but my belief and the rock on which I stand.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sunny Day at the Locks

One of the advantages of having my car serviced on the other side of town is that I get to go to the other side of town once in a while. When I was up there a couple of weeks ago, I decided to spend time at the Chittenden Locks in Ballard.

I saw sculpture...

...and water (from the fish ladder viewing room)...

...and an interesting bird...

...and other interesting subjects.

I don't like being a tourist, a visual consumer if you will. But there I was, next to a class of Asian preschoolers on a field trip, gawking at the sailboat as it came up to the level of the lake:

From this angle, you can't even see the boat -- only the mast and some lines. But as the water lifted the boat, there was a young-ish couple on board who were rather amused at being the center of attention. The lady and I exchanged shy smiles, and she waved politely at the children. I didn't want to include her photo on the blog, as I have no idea who she was and I don't like to post images without permission. You'll just have to imagine her little inflatable life vest (more like an elongated collar), the bandanna holding her dreadlocks, and her gentle manner. The boat was registered in Alaska. Imagine that! It's only May -- do you suppose they made the trip down already this spring, or was this a practice sail on Puget Sound to train for the return trip up the inside passage?

While watching the boats come up, I overheard a little chatter about a log boom on its way from Lake Washington out to the Sound. This was a few days after opening day of the boating season. As part of the festivities, a temporary moorage* is anchored out on the lake. Pleasure boats can tie up to it to watch everything from their own front-row seats. When the party's over, the boom has to go. Very interesting. I didn't stay to watch the log boom go through the locks, though. I had another place to visit, and I'll post those photos in a few days.


*P.S. Blogger wants to correct this word to be "moo rage". Yep, if cattle were forced aboard yachts, there would be moo rage indeed!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why I Was Tired This Weekend

Or should the title be, "Where I Went This Weekend"? Or maybe, "What I Ate This Weekend"?

Our bi-annual church women's retreat was terrific. We had wonderful accommodations in Leavenworth, Washington, great speakers from Arizona, and delicious food from Bavaria. Want to see some photos? First, here I am with three of my four roomies:

There were fun activities, good photo opportunities (scenic ones!), but for now I'm skipping to today's lunch at the Tumwater Inn:

German sausage, bratwurst, und sauerkraut. Ausgeseichnet! And then we had to try some dessert:

Do you recognize my friends from the first photo? Yep, all the same gals. Yep, we were very polite and didn't stab each other trying to get to the cake.

There was a lot more to this weekend, but this is enough to post for now. I think it's time to vegetate.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

We... are... exhaust... ... ... ed...

The big deal today was a hike up to an amazing viewpoint on Rattlesnake Ledge with one of my very favorite guys in all the world. Four miles total, but the equivalent of five miles straight up (well... actually, only 1000 feet elevation gain) and two miles down (the actual distance). Wet, sometimes rainy, cool, but the trail was still well-populated with hikers and dogs.

Rufus had a marvelous time, except that Andy keeps him on a much shorter leash than I do. He learned pretty well, though, thanks to Andy's supreme strength and persistence.

I had a fantastic time with my son and the dog, but MAN did I get winded on the uphill climb. Poor Andy had to adopt a snail's pace so I could keep up, but he was ever so patient.

And when we finally reached the top...