God’s Own Country

I was in Oregon a few weeks ago for my Spring Break, spending time with my family and enjoying the spectacular natural beauty of the state whose name, by the way, rhymes with dragon (not lawn). DSC01889

This view takes in downtown Portland, the green hills, and snow-capped Mt. Hood presiding over it all. I saw this mountain just about every day during my childhood. What a blessing! It rises in crisp detail, always feeling close enough to reach out and grasp. I’m definitely a beach girl, but I miss seeing the mountains. While the ocean gives me a glimpse of God’s vastness, the mountains speak to me of His majesty and His proximity.

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Here’s another view of the hills around Mt. Hood. Do you see the pine trees? Tennessee has plenty of rolling green hills- for about six months out of the year. Oregon has hills that are ever green with ancient, towering trees covered in moss; steady and unchanging like the nature of God. When I look up into their branches I think about time stretching up and out and on and on. Oh, and I love the smell of pine. That smell combined with the clear, clean air just makes me breathe more deeply and slowly than I do in other places. Each breath is an invitation to relax and receive peace.

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This is the Columbia River gorge, and the picture doesn’t really do it justice. There are places where you can look in either direction and see for miles- the turns in the river, the cliffs, the folds of the hills. I loved to cross this wide river as a child. I would look west and feel that if I could just get past that next bend, I would see it meet the sea. Rivers are all about possibility and adventure, right? Check out this Emeli Sande song for a profound message from the River Himself.

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Of everything I saw on my trip, the waterfalls gave me the most joy. As you drive up the gorge there are many, from the famous Multnomah Falls (611 feet!) to the one in the photo above, Horsetail Falls, to slender little streams. Here’s the thing about waterfalls: they never stop flowing. The water never runs out. With thundering abandon they continually pour out, a picture of what extravagant, abundant love looks like.

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I didn’t even get to talk about the moody, gray Oregon beaches or the fact that the eastern half of the state is desert… I’m just gonna end this by telling all you nature lovers to start planning your trip to Oregon! It’s perfect for those who want to be active (hiking, biking, skiing, windsurfing, etc.) and those like me who want to observe, ponder and be inspired. Yes, I’ve waxed (maybe a tad bit too) poetic in this post, but gosh darnit, Oregon does that to me. It’s what I like to call God’s Own Country.

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