Sunday, August 15, 2010

Better Church


I assume large numbers of people spent an hour or two at church this morning, but I did something vastly better: I got out of bed, drove roughly 20 miles east to Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, and ran the mile-long trail of switchbacks to the top. Then I ran back down and did the same again.

This is not only a challenging training run; it is a singularly rewarding experience if you get there early enough. Multnomah Falls is the kind of place for which the word and the idea of the sublime was developed by Burke, Kant, and the English romantics -- beautiful, yes, but also menacing in its manifest power. Whatever the word for it -- I decline spiritual, as it is too flabby and vague -- there's something especially powerful about Multnomah Falls when experienced as the only human being visibly present.

Buoyed by that experience, I continued along a trail roughly a half mile west to Wahkeena Falls, and am I ever so glad I did. The set of three images below were taken there, albeit during a return visit a short while after my run.




I have undertaken this same sequence of actions in these same places a handful of times before today, but it is no less uplifting each time. My Sunday morning never reached or grasped for any reality beyond the one we find around us. It was deeply reverent and profoundly beautiful -- these images only hint at the reality, and the paltry words I've added barely get closer.  

6 comments:

larryniven said...

Awesome - very nice post.

Dale said...

Thanks!

shane said...

sagan, dawkins and i agree...

John Carter Wood said...

It has often occurred to me that I have felt more deeply looking out at our garden -- the plants, the birds, the occasional mammal -- than I ever have in a 'place of worship'.

Obviously, we don't have a waterfall this awesome, but still....

Thanks for this.

Sheldon said...

Aaahhhhhh Greeeeennn..... Coooll Refreshing....Very nice!
(I am in southern Arizona at present, so I really appreciated your photos)

Dale said...

What the photos can't begin to approximate is the sensation of arriving at the spot where the last of the posted photos was taken -- it was a pretty warm day already, and of course I had been running, so I was *hot.* But right there, as you stand on a pedestrian bridge, you feel a wind coming off the moving water and a glaze of cold water. It's all the better if you're all alone there, as I was, so you don't have to think about getting in anyone's way or about looking like some kind of hippy basking in the beauty and coolness of it. But I was that kind of hippy and I can't say enough for being that.