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The Trips We Take

Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 01:20

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The time will come, I suppose, when I won't be able to hike into remote back-country alone.  But it's not here yet.   So I got up early and headed up one of the highest mountains east of the Mississippi.

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It would still be a while before the sun actually rose, but the dawn light began to grow.

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The access point to this area  was closed, so getting to the creek meant bushwhacking down a mountainside.  It was worth it.


Beneath the falls there was a fish.

Ysp brook trout

Going higher,  a lush meadow came into view.


A stream ran through it.

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"The stream runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.," Norman Maclean wrote.  I listened closely.

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Eventually it was time to move on. 

Brookie beauty beauty

Fish on streams like this are not big.  But they are wild, and they are beautiful.


The wildflowers were too.

Upper falls

Yellowstone Prong upper falls

As were the waterfalls.

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And the stones beneath them.

Cougar tracks

Though I did not see any other people the whole day, that did not mean others were not in the woods with me.  Mud is interesting because it lets you know who some of those companions are.

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I will not always be able to do this alone, and then eventually will not be able to do it all.  So for now, I'm going to enjoy journeys like these for all they are worth.  The sun was setting for the climb out.  It had been over 16 hours since hiking in, but seemed like I had just left.


Father Rob's Blog - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 22:59

On our way down to North Carolina to visit my parents, Linda and I stopped at Cracker Barrel.   Making polite conversation, I commented to our waitress, "It's not too busy today."

"That's OK," she replied.  "We need a break. Yesterday was all the church people."

Something about the way she said "church people" let me to believe the experience wasn't particularly positive.

"Ah," I said.  "All the folks stopping in after church."

"Yep," she said flatly.

Lowering my voice, I said conspiratorially, "Church people sure can be cheap, can't they?"

She dropped her gaze and shuffled her feet.  A nice southern woman, it wasn't her habit to say anything bad about anyone. Softly, she said, "They sure can."

Almost whispering now,  I confessed, "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I'm a pastor."

"Oh," she said, warming up considerably.  "You know then!"

"I do," I said.  "I'm fortunate that I serve an exceptionally generous congregation, but from what I all too often see and hear, they are the exception rather than the rule."

A good tip is 20%.  We left her over 200%.    The best thing about having wealth is being able to share it freely with others.  Generosity is by its very nature a call to extravagance.

The Leftovers

Father Rob's Blog - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 12:43

The leftovers 185

I like deer.  I really do. But they sure can be a nuisance.

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My morning routine these days consists of examining the fencing for weak spots.  I fix what looks like might be a problem.  It hasn't yet worked.

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I'd be less than truth if I said I didn't find this distressing.  I very much do.  But it has been said that they key in situations like this is to focus on what is left, not what is lost. 

Don't know

Like this.




Or this.


True, the garden is not all I hoped it would be.  It is not what I wished it would be, or dreamed it would be in the long months of winter.

Dl ruby spider

But it is still beautiful.

Dl lav blue eyes


Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 10:57

Suet eaters 013

Nothing is too good for this robin's children.  She wants to make sure her children aren't missing out on anything they might need.  First she collects worms and other insects she finds in the yard.  Then she fills any empty spaces there might be in her beak with suet.  

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Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 01:14


Though I post a fair number of sunrise pictures, sunsets are pretty rare on here.  That's mostly because I'm usually home at 5AM when the sun is rising, but not at 8:30 or 9PM when the sun is setting.  Tonight, however, I was, and so I thought I'd correct the situation.

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Ironically, a couple of the day-lilies the deer left were the target of a large branch toppled in the big storm that blew threw a little earlier with wind gusts up to 75MPH.  


Still, the post-storm light was stunning.


A hummer stopped by for one last drink before turning in for the night.

Tested, Tried, and Found...

Father Rob's Blog - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 11:21

Summer sunrise 036

Well, how will I be found?  That's the question.

One of my favorite quotes, which I've posted here before, is from G.K. Chesterton:

  "Here ends another day, during which I have had eyes, ears, hands and the great world around me. Tomorrow begins another day. Why am I allowed two?"  

I take that to mean that one of anything, duly appreciated, is enough.  This is the key to contentment, the antidote to greed.   It's at the heart of gratitude,  and it chokes out self-pity.  Life is not fair; truth is, it's extravagant.

All that is good and well--in principle!  Actually living it is something else.  Take daylilies, for instance.   This year, the deer have found new ways into my garden.  They have eaten hundreds, probably thousands, of blooms.  But everyday I still have at least one (and frankly, considerably more).  Is that enough?

There is a challenge here, to be sure.  When I walk through the garden first thing in the morning and see all barren stalks, now void of blooms, my first thought is to be put upon, resentful, angry.  But then I look around.  Here grows another daylily, which sets a great multitude of blooms. 

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Each one is a marvel, a source of great delight in and of itself.

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Why am I allowed two?

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And that's not even to mention the turtles!

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Summer Sunrise

Father Rob's Blog - Sun, 07/06/2014 - 10:51

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The sunrise this morning was so colorful that the pinks, albeit more delicate the further one looked to the west,  stretched from horizon to horizon.

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But the most brilliant color wasn't in the sunrise at all...

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Sasha was unimpressed.  "Feed meeee," was all she had to say.

Sunrise Surprise

Father Rob's Blog - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 13:48

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I knew it was going to be a great sunrise when, even while it was still dark, faint streaks of red began to appear in the sky.  I went out into the field to take some pics, and found this guy watching me.

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There wasn't quite enough light to get a good shot, but you can still see he is a pretty unique animal.

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Back in the yard, this little girl joined me in greeting the new day.

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Then the sun rose, and it was time to go to work.

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Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 06/18/2014 - 14:28

I recently had a conversation with a man who had been sober for almost 40 years.  Then, through an unfortunate string of events, he sat down with a six pack of beer.  "The first three tasted like sh_t," he said.  "But by the last three, I just didn't give a d_mn."    He did not blame the circumstances, by the way, but fully acknowledged the choice he made.

Think about that a moment.  What do you next?    The great temptation is to say, "I've blew it.  I'm back to zero.  Why bother starting all over again?"  And then to keep on drinking.

We might think that a better alternative would be to minimize it.  Another choice might simply be not to tell anyone else, and go back to our meetings like nothing ever happened.  Except for a person who is in recovery, this isn't a choice.  Honesty is everything (truth is, honesty is everything for all of us, but we often don't admit that to ourselves.  That's what is called denial).  Something did happen.  To pretend like it didn't, to be less than truthful with those who love us and support us no matter what, is the path back into hell.

But to admit that after all these years--all these years!--we've thrown our sobriety away...   Man, what humility that would take.  What courage in the face of such formidable shame. 

But the next day, that's exactly what he did.  He was faithfully back at his meetings, starting all over again.  "I'm  two months sober," he said.

I told him that was one of the best stories I've ever heard.  And it was. 

Happy Family

Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 06/18/2014 - 02:16

Babe 003

Evening time.  Let's see if we can find anything to eat tonight.

Babe 013

Hey, where'd mom go?  Let's see if we can find her...

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There she is!  She's getting a drink.

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That looks like a good idea.  Come to think of it, we're pretty thirsty too...

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Dinners over.  Time to play!

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OK, play times over.  Now it's time for your bath.

Sweet Tooth

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 06/13/2014 - 01:24

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Any two legged varmints around?

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Nope, coast is clear.  Let's see what we've got here.

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Oooooh--that's good!

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Doesn't come out very fast though.  Time to get serious.

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Finished that one.  Any more?

Dawning is the Day

Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 05/28/2014 - 11:24

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This morning's clouds gave the sunrise its own unique beauty.

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As sunrise grew nearer, the greys began to turn into gold.


The mists from last night's rain were illumined as the rose from the fields.


And came through the trees.

Making Our Evening Song

Father Rob's Blog - Mon, 05/05/2014 - 22:11

I love the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my supplication,
*because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.

I was struck by the first line of today's Psalm.  It has not been my experience that God inclines his ear to me whenever I call upon him.  There are times when it seems like he is not listening at all.

I came to grief and sorrow,

the Psalmist continues. And then,

How shall I repay the LORD,
for all the good things he has done for me. 

Interesting.  While it may not seem God has always listened to me, there can be no arguing that my life, too, is full of good things.   I thought of this evening.  I sat with my wife as we both enjoyed a cup of hot tea--and, of course, Nike our cat.

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On the roof of the house, a robin sang.

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Then he flew to a tree where the sun caught the color of his breast. Oh my.

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A blue jay joined him, surrounded by white.  Only this time it wasn't snow, but the flowers of spring.

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The hummers made regular visits to the feeder.


And then I realized:  Maybe that is answer enough in itself, all the answer one ever needs.

Rainy Day Critters (continued)

Father Rob's Blog - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 00:50

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Sometimes on dark and rainy days it's animals who just like being wet who venture out from their hiding places.  Happy as can be, they soak up all the moisture they can--another day in paradise.

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Nom nom nom

Father Rob's Blog - Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:08


Sometimes on a dark and rainy day, nocturnal animals will venture out from their hiding places a little early.   Often it is to eat,  a pretty darn good strategy for coping with days like this (there's nothing like a little suet as a treat on a gloomy day).  But my big question is:  If it's dark enough for animals that are usually asleep to be awake,  does that mean those of us who are usually awake can go to sleep?  Is it time for bed yet?

We're Back

Father Rob's Blog - Thu, 04/24/2014 - 14:22

Feaster 002

Well, it looks like after being down for several days, DaddyRoBlog is back.  But even more importantly, it looks like the hummers are back as well.  This male has been visiting the feeder for about a week now.  So if you live in northern VA and enjoy seeing hummingbirds, it's time to hang those feeders back up once again!

Foxy Friday

Father Rob's Blog - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 17:19


If the fox looks like it is intensely focusing on something, it's because it is.  While Linda and I didn't realize it at the time, a squirrel was also making an early morning visit to the yard.


The squirrel will not be returning.  While the early bird may get the worm, the early squirrel does not always get the nut.  Context is everything.

Sunrise over the Sea

Father Rob's Blog - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 11:14

Israel 412

The Sea of Galilee, that is.

Dead sea sunrise

Or maybe the Dead Sea.

But of course, seeing a beautiful sunrise is not why people go Israel.  No, the reason they go is to see the lizards, like this one enjoying  a cozy spot in the Jerusalem wall.

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OK, so maybe that's not it either. 

No, I think the primary reason those of us who are Christians go is to answer anew, in a deeper, fuller way, the timeless question Jesus asked:  Who do you say that I am?

Spring Is Coming

Father Rob's Blog - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 00:14

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A fox is again making morning visits to the yard.

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Morning Cloaks have come out of hibernation and can be seen sunning themselves on warm surfaces.

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Turtles, too, are making an appearance.

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So are leeches, like the ones seen here on the bottom of the turtle's shell  (called a plastron).  The leeches I could probably do without.

The Birds of the Air

Father Rob's Blog - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 01:14


If Jesus was a man who knew how to weep, I believe he was also a man who knew how to let his heart be buoyed by the beauty around him.  Reading the Gospels, one can't help but conclude that he was a keen observer of nature, and that he duly appreciated the wonder of what he was seeing.  "Consider the birds," he says.   Having now seen some of the birds in Israel (like this kingfisher on the Jordan River), I can better understand why they made such an impression!