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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Days Crammed with Heaven?

Some would argue that the Earth (indeed the whole Universe) is so carefully fine-tuned for life that it makes the existence of a creator a foregone conclusion.

It is an easy argument to buy into when a warm rain is falling and an untold number of small mouth bass are volunteering to jump into your canoe.

But Douglas Adams points out,

"This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in - an interesting hole I find myself in - fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for."

sentient puddle

In other words, (as Wikipedia kind of phrases it in their article on The Anthropic Principle) ...the universe may appear to fit us perfectly, while in fact, we simply fit the universe perfectly.

While I have my doubts that the universe was perfectly fine tuned for me personally, (as I am daily reminded at the 10 o'clock scheduling meeting) I will admit that some days seem to be better designed than others.

Sunset at Cape Kiwanda    March 30, 2013

Sunset at Cape Kiwanda     March 30, 2013

Evidently, the air has been designed to hold up our sails.

A benevolent day at Cape Kiwanda

Monday, March 18, 2013

...a sound of sheer silence.

I'll be honest with you.
I've tried to pray.
But I don't think I do it right because, while my part of the conversation can often be lengthy and verbose, I find that I'm always ending up supplying God's end of the conversation too...through fairly creative attribution.

I can remember back to my college days when I got the phone call that informed me that my dad had finally succumbed to cancer and how I ventured out into the freezing cold night and climbed to the top of the bleachers at Lindstrom Field and beneath a heaven of harsh twinkling stars, concluded the conversation I'd maintained for several years regarding a possible healing miracle. I don't know what I was expecting...maybe an apology... maybe a pat on the back, or a hug.  I had to settle for the usual ambiguous silence.

I'm always jealous of the Old Testament characters who actually got to talk to God.
Here is part of a story about Elijah who is on the run (in fear for his life), and seeking a dialogue with God on the top of the mount of God.

He (the Lord) said (to Elijah), "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
1st Kings 19:11-13 (NRSV) 

"...a sound of sheer silence." was another candidate for a possible theme for my photo exhibition. I have to admit, the story above doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Elijah and God evidently talked all the time, before and after God's theatrics on the mountain. I guess what I resonate to is the idea that it isn't until Elijah hears the sheer silence, that he is drawn to stand at the entrance of his cave and...listen.

I suck at prayer. I can't stand before a court and honestly say I've ever heard God's voice. But I have heard the sheer silence...and here are some of the places I listen.

Kansas Cemetery 

White oak in a labyrinth

Moon-rise on Bybee Lake

Goldendale on the way to the observatory

In-between storms in the Columbia Gorge

Wahkeena spring

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I've struggled a long time trying to articulate a theme for pictures I take.
I take pictures of landscapes, but I'm not a landscape photographer. I take pictures of nature... but that's so vague, one might as well say, "I take pictures."
I take pictures because I want to be able to share what I've seen. And the pictures I'm most proud of are the ones that reveal something about how nature works.

If this fellow is re-productively more successful than his counterparts, might our descendants one day share earth with bipedal beavers?

An early candidate for a photography exhibition theme was a phrase that my friend Bernadette shared with me. She's a big fan of 'river dancing' but her enthusiasm for Irish step dancing, in particular, has gradually generalized to all things Celtic and the phrase she shared was, 'thin places'.
"Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter." (See the article by Eric Weiner, Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer)

Saturday I hiked in the snow along Cold Spring Creek with the intention of seeing Tamanawas Falls. I suppose I could get all poetical and pretend like I was enraptured with the spectacle of the world waking up from winter, or marvel at how snow sits heavy but tranquilly in surrealistic configurations, unconcerned about its inevitable demise, or surmise how the hydrologic cycle and seasons contribute to erosion on the sides of a strato-volcano...

...but really I was freaking out because, as usual, I had timed this hike close to sunset and the snow that had been melting on the way in was spitefully turning to ice, and the Yak-Trax traction devices that had (at first) served me well on the way in were rapidly disintegrating, their rubber components evidently long past their optimal flexibility.

Heaven and earth may be three feet apart, but here it was beginning to feel like heaven was as close as my ability or inability to make a snow-cave with my bare hands and survive overnight if it turned out I wouldn't be able to walk out of here before dark.

The golden shafts of light that had dappled the cold blue snow on the way in were long gone by the time I set up the tripod for this shot. The traction devices were wrapped around my shoes in a fashion unintended by their designers. I rushed to make some exposures before I grew too chilled. Sadly, the mist that correlates with most waterfalls quickly turned what was supposed to be a lens into something more like a special effects filter. Many of the images were unusable. 
And so, there behind my tripod, I briefly kneeled before a scene that I found both beautiful and threatening. I realized I was in a situation where one misstep, one unforeseen circumstance, one bad decision, could change a short pleasant hike into a really embarrassing way to die...  

...which counter-intuitively, made me somehow grateful, just to watch...and listen...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

July Photo Exhibition


"Earth's Crammed with Heaven."
Showing at
The Academy Theater Lobby
during the month of July, 2013

7818 S.E. STARK ST. PORTLAND OR, 97215

See a movie for $4.00 and as a bonus,
see scott's themed exhibition...


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