Friday, April 19, 2019


"On a hill far away stood. . ."

Lyrics I remember from "The Old Rugged Cross," Evangelical United Brethren Hymnal. I frequently sang this song in worship decades ago. If you were Methodist or Baptist or a whatever, you sang it too.

Back to today: I'm now at a stage in which I can break away for a one-hour walk almost every day. Where do I walk?

Generally, I walk around the on Gettman Loop Trail, a Yamhill County heritage trail which  snakes around the beautiful hill-and-dale perimeter of the Chehalem Glen Golf Course

But: here's a Problem: the rain. Not just that it rains. I live in the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A., alias duckville, so I don't mind walking on a rainy day. But I don't like mud on the trail. Much of the Gettman Loop traverses a grey clay surface, so the Gettman Loop trail isn't safe when wet. Very slippery. Plus, if I walk on that mud I'm bound to come home with clay mud clinging to the soles of my shoes and the cuffs of my jeans.

So, for rainy days I had to find an alternative to Gettman.

Solution: go up a hill instead down into a canyon?

Yes. So. . .on a walk a couple of weeks ago I found myself walking on a Newberg hillside street. Housing stretched out to the west but a grassy-and-forested hillside rose steeply from the east curb.  And just above the curb, a park sign with a map. I read: Schaad Park Loop Trail. Maybe a fantastic find for me! It led up the hill.

Up the trail I went, exploring switchback after switchback. No clay mud! Wonderful. The spectacular view to the west improved as I climbed. I saw my own community a mile away to the west, and beyond it the wide valley, hillside vineyards, the forested hills of the Coast Range, and finally, the Pacific Ocean. Well, I couldn't see the ocean, of course, but I imagined it.

What I saw from the Schaad Park Loop Trail, looking to the west

As I climbed, I gave attention to the remaining trunk and limbs of a burned-out tree. Here I was--on a day late in Lent, standing before a burned-out tree that formed a charred, darkened cross.

"The 'Natural' Cross of Christ": front view, 2019
"Jesus cried with a loud voice, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'"

 "Dear God," I thought. "Isn't this snag like the cross of Christ?" I grew solemn. I teared up. I bowed. I crossed myself. Deep, deep memories: Bible readings of the devilish Roman cross of Jesus. 

I walked to the other side and the snag now appeared as the empty cross after Jesus' death--an empty cross silhouetted against the grey sky.  

"The Empty Natural Cross of Christ", 2019 
a natural replica

A deeply moving experience for me during Holy Week.

Mistletoe clinging to the branches of Oregon oaks (quercus garryana)

Then, further up the trail at the crest of the hill I entered into another experience in a stand of  ancient Oregon white oak trees. I love Oregon white oaks. Around me at this moment: huge old trees, now wooden skeletons because the new leaves had not yet appeared. 

No oak leaves that is, but up in the bows hung enormous clumps of mistletoe. The mistletoe turned my thoughts to Life. Continuing life. Life-laden clumps of mistletoe, the plant that symbolizes love. 

Why do I walk? One reason among others: it's a spiritual exercise teaching that Life Prevails.

Postscript: it's helpful to know that persons in other religious traditions find inspiration "on the trail."  I recommend a read of a review of  "Zen On the Trail" by Professor Chris Ives, then get the book.

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At April 19, 2019 at 3:20 PM , Blogger Kate said...

As always DR - you delivered not only an informative naritive( re: your walks) but a truly meaningful experience. No MUD on the shoes and cuffs of your pant legs really got me ...that gray mud can be hard to remove (as you well know). Walking is not only great exercise but it provides the "step-er" with a good look at the smallest of things ...things a person would never see from a drive in their automobile.
The Segue to the burned -out tree on the day of Lent and what it meant to you was moving...a stunning experience on Good Friday... as Easter quickly approaches.
BTW - I absolutely love mistletoe...I know you might find this odd (given my age) but I had no idea it grew on oak trees until just recently when a friend of mine cut a clump and brought it to me as a gift. What a thrill that was! He explained where it came from and how it was formed. After that I was convinced I had been sitting in a closet somewhere. So amazing ...natures discovery...but you know all about that!
In closing I'm going to say ...Blessings to you my is now 3:02 and I can resume my daily activity. Thank you for your "Soliloquy" On Good Friday: What's Hidden On That Hill So Far Away" -I think we know what that is don't we! Really GREAT Read DR!!!! Your friend on the other side of the mountain- Kate in Farmington

At April 19, 2019 at 5:16 PM , Blogger Darrell Reeck said...

Thank you for your lovely comment.

At April 19, 2019 at 7:33 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you, Darrell, for sharing your walking experiences - always a blessing to read how you are ministered to and in turn minister to others. Keith and I couldn't get to our Good Friday Service this evening, so I decided to check on our emails and FB and there was your "gift" to your readers. May God bless you and Lucy this weekend; may God bless us all as we experience the joy of
Easter. He is risen, He is risen indeed! Keith and Patti


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