What's Tony Thinking

Early Morning


It’s early now, just past 5:00. I love the early morning time. The quiet. The dark becoming light. The shapes emerging out of the shadows. What will this new day be, what will it bring?

Years ago, I committed to memory Emerson’s lines for ending a day and beginning a new one.

“Finish each day and be done with it; Tomorrow is a new day;

you will begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit

to be cumbered by your old nonsense.”

I guess Emerson was also a morning person, as the phrase goes.

Another of the quotes I committed to memory along the way came from Erik Erikson. “Do not misuse one of the strongest forces in life — true indignation in the service of vital values — to justify your own small self.”

The Occupant, as one friend refers to the President, specializes in that, the misuse of “true indignation.” But not only him. Lot’s of “righteous” indignation going ’round.

We head back to the Lake, Wallowa Lake, today for one final week at the cabin. Time to close up. “Winterize,” is the term. And in the spring when you see people in Wallowa County for the first time, after the winter, they will ask, “How did you winter?”

It is getting colder over there in the Wallowas. Night time temperatures in the 20’s. Daytime in the 50’s. We will be relying on our little wood stove to keep us warm.

There was a good program last week from the Josephy Center for Art and Culture in Joseph, Oregon (the small town nearest our cabin) about changing usage patterns in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. Such areas were established by the 1964 Wilderness Act, which intended to preserve them as wild with no trace, or the least possible, of human activity and presence.

But the number of users is growing (not just in this COVID year) and we don’t always behave well, creating semi-permanent camps, cutting down trees, leaving trash behind. In August when I went backpacking with our son Nick and his son, Levi, Nick made a big point to Levi about “no trace camping,” and about picking up even “micro trash.” Apparently, those messages haven’t been heard or heeded by many of the growing number of visitors.

Levi’s sister, three-year-old Olive, the youngest of our grandchildren, spent the day with us yesterday. I told a story about Olive in my sermon last Sunday. I was talking about the anxious sense of scarcity that has come to pervade our society.

I had been at Olive’s home the week before. She and I were playing bean bag toss. As the game wound down, and seeing her five-year-old sister coming our way, Olive gathered all the bean bags, maybe 7 or 8 of them. She wrapped her arms around them and said, in no uncertain terms, “Mine, all mine.”

I was preaching about grace and observed that what was kind of cute and funny in a 3-year-old, isn’t at all cute in a 50-year-old. A theology and morality of grace, teaches us to be gracious. We have received far more than we deserve.

A wilderness area is like that, a gift we do not, cannot own. And maybe life is like that too.






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