Monday, November 29, 2010


You care for the land and water it; 
you enrich it abundantly. 
The streams of God are filled with water 
to provide the people with grain, 
for so you have ordained it. 
You drench its furrows and level its ridges; 
you soften it with showers and bless its crops. 
You crown the year with your bounty, 
and your carts overflow with abundance. 
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; 
the hills are clothed with gladness. 
The meadows are covered with flocks 
and the valleys are mantled with grain; 
they shout for joy and sing. 
~Psalm 65:9-13 

This Psalm is a harvest hymn of thanksgiving, likely sung during the Jewish autumnal festival of Tabernacles. After our national (USA) feast day of Thanksgiving last week, we’ve had opportunity once again as a people to consider the good gifts of home, family, friends, food, feasting! What a sweet joy it is to raise our voices and sing songs of thanksgiving together as a people!

Psalm 65 celebrates “streams of God filled with water”. Translate that as the gift of rain. On the north Oregon coast, it is a favorite pastime of locals to complain about rain. We certainly have an abundance of this gift! We average 76 inches (over six feet) per year. God has ordained rain as a gift given to all creatures to remind us of heaven’s abundance. Next time it rains, go outside, turn your bare face skyward, and soak in the gift of God’s presence in the “streams of God”. Offer a silent prayer of thanks for the wetness of grace.

If you’ve ever traveled to an arid climate, you’ll know what a gift rain is for people, land and animals. The meadows, the fields, the valleys, the mountains, the flocks, and the people all sing for joy at the sight and sound of falling rain, the “streams of God”. Psalm 65 offers a beautiful vision of creation “singing for joy”. The Bible tells us creation sings for joy. See for example, Job 38:7, describing this celebration at creation, “while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.”

According to the ancient songwriter, God’s goodness is so abundant that all creation flows forth with the song of God’s goodness, as rains fall from heaven, drenching furrows newly plowed and planted by farmers. The “streams of God” level the ridges and soften the land with showers.

A decade ago, we hiked by a gushing spring coming out of the side of a mountain ridge in Olympic National Park a mile above sea level. This spring emerged just below the top of the ridge, sending pure water cascading down the mountainside, watering the valley below, allowing myriads of wildflowers, shrubs and trees to prosper in the gift of water. I’ve been deeply moved by that single spring, evidence to my soul of the abundance of water pushed a mile upwards within the heart of the mountain by the upwelling water table of God’s goodness.

May the streams of God fill our life this Advent season, softening hearts, leveling our ridges, filling our hurting furrowed hearts, and germinating the good seed of God’s Word planted in our hearts, overflowing our lives with God’s gift of abundance!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mountain of Gratitude

Tusind tak ("two-sen tak") is the Danish phrase for a thousand thanks. Thank you for following this blog and all the encouragement along the way. A Tusind Tak.


I think my thought, and fancy I think thee.--
Lord, wake me up; rend swift my coffin-planks;
I pray thee, let me live--alive and free.
My soul will break forth in melodious thanks,
Aware at last what thou wouldst have it be,
When thy life shall be light in me, and when
My life to thine is answer and amen.
~from Diary of an Old Soul, November 22, by George Macdonald

George Macdonald (1824-1905), Scottish writer of fiction & poetry composed a 366 stanza poem known as Diary of an Old Soul, each stanza containing seven lines of iambic pentameter, with a fixed rhyme scheme (ABABCBC, though the rhyme scheme of the final three lines varies from stanza to stanza). This book length poem offers an insight into Macdonald's faith and theology, as each stanza is written as a daily prayer, often a cry for help, a confession, a lament, a struggle or striving with God in prayer. Known simply as A Diary of an Old Soul, this poem's full title is A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul. This poetic work had a profound influence upon C.S.Lewis in his conversion to Christianity as seen in his letter of October 1929, where he declares he had been "slowly reading ... Macdonald's Diary of an Old Soul....I strongly advise you to try it. He seems to know everything and find my own experience in it constantly" (quoted from "A Brief Analysis of the Content of George MacDonald: An Anthology by C. S. Lewis", by Paul F. Ford). For an online version of Diary of an Old Soul visit

We offer our "melodious thanks" to all you who have taken time this year to visit CANNON BEACH LOG to enjoy photography and read spiritual thoughts from the north Oregon coast. 

With our gratitude!  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wave and Haystack


 Excerpt from The Screwtape Letters, chapter VIII
" . . . Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation? Humans are amphibians—half spirit and half animal. . . As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it. 

"Now it may surprise you to learn that in [God’s] efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily good; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which [God] demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of replicas of Himself—creatures, whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. . . 

"And that is where the troughs come in. . . . Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all . . . supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. . . . He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. . . . [The Devil’s] cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do [God’s] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."
 The Screwtape Letters (1941), by C.S.Lewis

Monday, November 8, 2010


The monks are praying Psalms at this dark hour,
Their vigil chant awakening the dawn,
I too this night am wakened by the power
The will to live to see the morning sun.
Our cat has caught a mouse with vigil care,
From some unknown dark corner down beneath,
With mouse in mouth she prays her vigil prayer,
Her prey still praying, begging for release. 
Survival beats a drum in every heart,
The cat and mouse, the lion and the lamb,
We all desire another dawning start,
To raise our praise to Abrams' captive Ram.
I caught the mouse to set it forest free,
With beating grateful heart for liberty.

(Sonnet written by David Robinson, November 8, 2010, at 4:30a.m.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Universe in a Pond


In a society so often driven by productivity and profit, it may seem counter-intuitive to view resting as a beneficial way to live. Nature tells us otherwise. On this first day of November, as we head into late Autumn, we turn once again to a time of less activity, learning the hard lesson of our need for rest. John Keats described Autumn as a "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness".

This Fall, while hiking in Olympic National Park, we came upon the sign in the photo above expressing succinctly our soul's need. The beautifully crafted, weather-worn sign was placed next to a former campsite along Hoh Lake (4500 feet elevation).  Occasionally, the national park service will close a campsite for a season due to overuse, allowing a site "rest". The rain and snow continue to fall; the sun and moon continue to shine; the deer and black bear continue to wander through (we saw both at Hoh Lake this year). Life seems unchanged.

Yet, something vital is happening while "this site is resting". Boots, backpacks and tents are absent. The small, wild things are allowed to spring up undisturbed without being trampled underfoot. The snow falls, burying the site for months. The late spring sun melts the snow, overflowing the lake, running off the mountainsides into the great Hoh valley below. New shoots of life spring up from soil once beaten down by campers.  New life springs forth, and bare soil is replaced with alpine meadowland glory. Mountain blueberries cover the ground, along with John Muir's favorite wildflower, Cassiope, white heather with her luminous bells blooming in late summer. 

None of this would have been possible without the gift of rest. The prophet Isaiah invited ancient Israel to come back to a time of rest. In returning and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it (Isaiah 30:15). Often, people today will have none of it as well, preferring the well-trodden paths of productivity and profit-making. Nothing wrong with being productive or earning a decent living. But all campsites, like all people, need their times of rest. In this gift comes the saving grace of God, quietly renewing our soul, strengthening our frame, and bringing back the beauty of meadowlands to our inner world.