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My Gaze – A Reflection

May 15, 2019

It began this morning as I looked out of my office windows and down to our Columbarium. I visited with and helped our cleanup crew of volunteers as they cleaned up the winter debris. Later in the day my gaze returned to the site and I took a contemplative walk with my phone camera. As I walked down the path, past the outdoor Chapel, my gaze expanded and narrowed… almost as if it was breathing.

As I looked over the area, my eyes were drawn to the downed tree and upturned earth which are remnants of the 2013 flood which destroyed about a third of the Meditation Trail our church has on the property. As I looked to the destruction… I also saw the beautiful mountains in the background. Estes Park has been hit by floods before. The 1976 Big Thompson River Flood was caused by a storm system which stalled over the mountains and our Valley. The church was downtown back then in its original location. I believe that it suffered water damage. The 1982 Lawn Lake Flood was caused by the rupture of a natural Moraine dam in Rocky. Much damage was done to the town then as well. The church was moving from its original building to the current building and all of the records had been moved from a building that would be flooded out to the new church mere hours before the Moraine ruptured! This church and town have also survived fires in Rocky and in the town in the 100+ year history of the church and town.

All of this played out in my mind as I gazed out from the bench in the Columbarium. It also reflects, for me, the tenuous hold we have in this nation and world on sanity and a hope for peace. Breathing in and out as in a prayer, I thought of places that I have been as a Military Chaplain… I thought of places where members of the congregation are right now (Gaza, East Bank, Palestine, Israel)… I thought of the insane rhetoric coming from Washington, DC where sabres are being rattled by men who don’t have a clue what horrors war unleashes upon innocent civilians as well as military members who are NOT toy soldiers for politicians to play with.

Again, my gaze returned to the portion of the Meditation Trail that I was on. As I headed back to the church and my office, I once again returned to the focus on my breathing. And in that focus, my breathing became my prayer… somehow, O Lord, somehow… Dona Nobis Pacem… Grant Us Peace… make us instruments of your peace…


The picture is from the bench in the Columbarium where I looked out upon signs of destruction, new life, and new possibilities… I will lift up my eyes to the hills. Where will my help come from? It will come from the Lord, the creator of the heavens and the earth (Psalm 121:1-2)


This reflection is from the Online Course Denise and I are taking through Abbey of the Arts ( The book we are studying is Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice by Christine Valters Paintner (Eyes of the Heart)

  1. Cheryl Anne permalink

    Prayers for you, Gentle Padre. You are truly a Brother of the Beatitudes. ❤

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