Thursday, January 28, 2016

The News from Magruder 1/24-30

This week we saw yet another string of rainy days, but there were plenty of breaks. This week reminded us that the winter will not hold on forever. We saw our share of sunshine, and we are even beginning to notice the sun staying with us longer in the day. As I look out the office window, I can see beams of sunshine through the spruce needles, creating this magical green tint that sparkles in the rain drops left on the branches from morning showers. The sun is returning, friends. Change is happening, as it tends to do.

Monday was an absolutely glorious day, a day that felt straight out of August. It would be easy to be convinced you had fallen asleep for 7 months and woken up to the clear skies and sunshine of a different season. I caught myself several moments looking out the window like a daydreaming school boy, admiring the gorgeous painting that is the view through the glass on the Oregon Coast. This type of activity is stereotypically associated with idle pursuits, wastes of time, and procrastination, and for good reason.

I do think, though, there is some value to be gained when staring out the window properly. These momentary distractions can refresh a person. Just look at all those trees, see the light peeking through them. Listen to the ocean on its ebb tide just beyond the shore pines. Breathe in real deep. Do you feel that? Can you pick up on the appreciation flowing through your body? Isn't it exciting? Doesn't that make you want to do something important? Doesn't it make you want to give it some honor because you are one of the lucky who get to inhabit this? What are you going to do about that?

Out walking the grounds, I met Mark burning one of the brush piles that has accumulated from pruning and clearing along the beach access roads. These brush fires are deceptive sometimes--they don't necessarily look so big, because there is a pile of brush surrounding them. Don't be fooled, though, they burn hot. Mark was spreading the mix of leaves, branches, and wood chips making sure it didn't burn too slow or too fast. We watched the fire burn and swapped stories.

Mark told me about a time a sick Pelican was found on the beach and was dangerously chilled. They put in a call to someone in Astoria who rescues birds, and she said she would be there ASAP. Mark went to the bird with a blanket, not knowing how the bird would react to him. As he wrapped it up, he said it put its head on his shoulder. They stayed that way until the rescuer showed up. Mark said he wasn't about to leave the Pelican.

This week we hosted members of the All One Community for a prayer retreat. These are church leaders in the Portland area from different denominations gathering together to discuss the directions of their church and hold each other in prayer. We hope this has been a time of rest and quiet for them that sends them back rejuvenated. Who knows all the lives they will touch when you put their work together? I sat at the table with them for breakfast and listened to their thoughts, their concerns, their dreams. I hope for moments during their stay here that will stay in their memories. Something beautiful they saw, something they heard they will remember in some challenging moment in the future making them just a little bit stronger. These small things add up.

I walked the woods this week, bordering the beach. The ocean continues to scratch away sandy cliff faces. We saw high surf warnings this week, and the wind howled a few nights. There are places where shore pines will soon fall onto the beach and get washed somewhere else. There's very little we could do to keep the ocean from taking it now. The ground is showing cracks, the tree's roots are all that's keeping it up. Yet another change taking place just outside our windows. May we be drawn to the movement around us, may we be inspired by it. When we have a chance, may we go and touch it, hear it, let some of its smoke pass through our nostrils, let it rest its head on our shoulder. May we know it better, know ourselves better, see ourselves changed by it.

The News from Magruder will be taking next week off, but fear not. A regular blog post will be back February 12, just in time for Choir Camp.

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