By Dick Duerksen
The weather prognosticators predict rain for Friday, maybe even snow in the high country. However, today is calm, cloudless, 90 degrees, with the promise of an orange and blue sunset.
Winter is wheezing its last gasping breaths, and Spring is just beginning to poke up from the soggy earth.
I thought about rain, snow, and the reflections of tall Mt. Hood on Trillium Lake. I have photographed the lake reflections many times, usually during Summer when the winding 2-mile road to the lake is dry, the campgrounds are full, and the stony peak of Mount Hood towers above the lake without snow.
Tonight would be different.
The road might be closed and the lake frozen, with few open spots for reflections. And, my aging legs might not be up to a 4-mile up-and-down hike at 3,600 feet of elevation. However, I would love to see a reflection of Mt. Hood while there was still ice on Trillium Lake.
“Jacket. Snacks. Backpack. Tripod. Two cameras. Boots. Hat. Cell Phone. Petrol. Hurry.”
The road was closed, covered with up to 3’ of dirty snow. Bad walking. Heavy camera. Just me and Sheba, our 120-pound Kuvasz dog.
Sheba was eager to start, so I joined her, a song in my heart.
A tall dark forest snuggled close along the snowy road.
We walked for an hour, stopping several times to rest. How is it that a “downhill” road can require so many “uphill” steps?
Two people passed us. First “Zinger,” and then “Joe.” They waved and hurried on.
An hour later, Sheba and I arrived at the old picnic table beside the lake.
Mt. Hood’s reflections were all I had dreamed, except for when a curious beaver lifted its head and etched circles into the lake’s mirror.
I celebrated thirty minutes of photography before the light died.
The two-mile hike I had been dreading now stretched out before me and Sheba.
No longer young, my knees creak and my breath sometimes comes in huffs and puffs. The road back looked longer and the snow deeper, but Sheba pulled on her leash, leading me back toward the parking lot high on the hill above us.
Twenty snowy steps, and Joe slipped in beside me. We talked about the sunset reflections, and then Joe asked if he could carry my heavy tripod and camera.
I gave him an automatic “No,” then reconsidered. The tripod is heavy and the camera makes it a true burden. “Maybe, if this kind young man is willing to carry my burden, I ought to allow him?”
Joe hoisted my burden as if it were a pack of feathers.
Joe’s from the state of Illinois where he’s been working in a hardware store. He’s visiting Oregon to help celebrate a friend’s wedding, and is at Trillium because he read that the reflection is beautiful.
“What do you do, or what did you do before retiring?” Joe asked me.
“I’m Storyteller for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Oregon,” I answered.
“Wow. That sounds like fun.”
We walked on, stopping regularly so I could catch my breath.
“Seventh-day. I’ve never heard of that. Is it a denomination, a church, or a group somewhere?”
I explained about our 16 million members world-wide and 160 churches in Oregon.
“Wow. What do you believe?”
“We believe that Jesus Christ is Creator, God’s Son, and Personal Redeemer for each human being. We are His children, and He is returning soon to take us home with Him to His home in Heaven. His favorite activity is forgiving sinners and transforming our lives with His love and joy.”
“And,” I continued between breaths, “Since we believe that the Bible is God’s Word, we worship on Saturday, as the Bible says.”
“Wow. Sounds good.”
Joe was quiet for several minutes.
“I am a born-again Christian, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. About four years ago I left a relationship where my girlfriend’s values and mine conflicted. I began reading my Bible more every day and learning how to live His life.”
Sheba laid down in the snow.
“Something odd’s been happening since I gave my heart to Jesus,” Joe continued. “I feel I need to pray for people around me. Not always, but often. I sense that someone has a special need, and that I am to pray with them.
“One day I was delivering cleaning supplies to a business near the hardware store, but the man who was to open the gates for me was late. I called my office and was told I’d need to wait about ten minutes.
“There was an older lady sitting on a bench nearby, and another woman leaning on a walker. I sat down with them, asked their names, and began listening to their stories. Then God told me that the lady with the walker needed me to pray for her knees.
“May I pray for your knees? I asked her.”
“Would you, please!” she answered.
“Before long I was praying for knees, shoulders, feet, children, grandchildren and husbands,” Joe told me.
We walked on, now more interested in the conversation than the walk.
“How do you know when to pray?” I asked Joe.
“I’m not sure,” Joe answered. “but if I start the day with God, it’s easier for me to hear when he has something for me to do.”
“One day, a few weeks ago,” Joe spoke again. “I saw three people walking down a street knocking on doors. One of them, an older man, left the group and sat down on the side of the street. I drove on by, trying to ignore God’s voice telling me to stop and pray for the man’s hip. I finally gave in and stopped my car.
“It was several blocks back to the man, but when I arrived, he was still sitting by the road. I sat down beside him and asked if I could pray for his hip.”
“No,” he answered. You are not of my church, and I cannot have you pray for me.”
“How about if we make a trade?” Joe asked the man. “I’ll take one of your tracts, if you’ll let me pray for your hip?”
“He agreed to the trade,” Joe said. “And then asked me how I knew about his bad hip.”
“God told me about your hip,” Joe said, “and also told me to come back and pray for you.”
“I prayed,” Joe told me. “I prayed for his hip, his marriage, his children, and his friends. It was a long prayer, well received.”
We stopped again on the snowy road, moonlight now painting our path with a golden light.
“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Joe said. “When I gave God my life and accepted Jesus as my personal Redeemer, everything in my life shifted from dark to light. Since then my life has meaning.”
The two miles passed too quickly. When we arrived at my car, Joe handed me the heavy tripod and camera, and then thanked me for the privilege of carrying them for me.
“Let’s keep praying for each other,” Joe said. “I’ll be praying for God to continue to bless you.”
I love the reflection photos I took Thursday night, but even more I love the reflection of Jesus I saw in Joe.