Psalm 95 and Oregon

For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.


The sea is his, for he made it,


and his hands formed the dry land.


Psalm 95:3-5….pictures taken along an Oregon adventure…………..

I love how nature continues to so eloquently illustrate the beautiful and most lyrical words of the ancient poems—the Psalms. Traveling through Oregon’s beautiful and rugged landscape last week I was sweetly reminded of Psalm 95…a psalm that we “sung” during the Morning Office, Rite I, taken from The Book of Common Prayer, each Sunday morning in church when I was growing up.

Back then I just went through the motions of the service… reciting prayers, litanies, psalms, kneeling, standing, kneeling some more, singing—thus is the flow of an Episcopal liturgical service. To a young person, such a service may seem, well, a bit boring, simply full of repetition…..but I found it’s rhythm soothing. I grew to love the wording of prayers, the way the Psalms were woven into this “King’s English” recitational service…and it is this rhythmical service that has stayed embedded in my very psyche all these many years later.

That is why, as we were driving, last week, for miles upon miles of shrouded green roadside, which was punctuated by spectacular sweeping vistas, Psalm 95 suddenly came rushing to the forefront of my consciousness… “the sea is His and He made it, and His hand prepared the dry land…” set to a chanting type of cadence, rising and falling, just like breathing.

As we were driving on these beautiful side roads, the familiar fir tree clad landscape suddenly disappeared, giving way to something extremely foreign—the landscape alien, harsh and very dead. We had stumbled onto Oregon’s Belknap lava fields. It has to be one of the most eeriest sites I have ever encountered. Pumice rocks–some the size of boulders,some very tiny, were scattered for miles and miles, measuring 1700 feet deep in most spots, all once liquid fiery red, ebbing and flowing for as far as the eye could see.

No life now but for a few dead skeletal remains of once majestic fir trees remind the viewer that life once existed in this foreign specter of a once vibrant landscape. The grounds are massive and dwarf any visitor who ventures out of a car, stopping at the various viewing points, making one feel almost claustrophobic, as the pumice “mountains” rise up to engulf any and all who walk along the pathway.

There is but a lone road snaking throughout these lonely fields. Snow continues to accumulate in the nooks and crannies, only adding to the cold barren emptiness. The last active lava flow was 1500 years ago—this area, this part of the state, resides in the infamous Pacific Ring of Fire. A visceral reminder of the tentative life we live on this very active, ever changing planet of ours.

All that we see—the earth, the stars, the heavens…all that is below our feet and above our heads…all that is at our arms reach, all that is seen and heard, all that is unseen and yet unknown…all that is limitless–that which is not man-made, as that equates to limited—the power of the wind, the energy of the lightening, the heat of the sun, the deluge of the rains, the clouds, the mountains, the deserts, the seas….the power of this universe of ours…which drawfs the mere “power of man”, is all truly humbling………all of this and even more than we can imagine gives way to the gentle cadence of a rhythmical lyrical breath….the breath of life giving way to the joy of a poem known as Psalm 95…