The year that I lived in Portland, Oregon, my favorite place to go for renewal was the Columbia River Gorge. Whenever the intensity of my ministerial internship became too much to bear, whenever my spirit was exhausted, I jumped in the car and drove thirty minutes to one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Waterfall after waterfall after waterfall. I’d park the car, hike a short distance, and sit on a rock watching the water cascade down from a high cliff, land in a pool, swirl into eddies, and flow down a stream. The gentle touch of the mist on my skin was refreshing. The feel of the solid rock below my body gave me stability. The sight of moving water reminded me that “this too shall pass.” But it was the sound of the waterfall that renewed my soul. I could listen to that sound for hours, even though it usually only took one hour to get renewed.

I had not been a big fan of waterfalls before that year. Growing up in the Midwest, waterfalls were small. But everything in nature is big in the Pacific Northwest. The waterfalls are awesome, the trees are huge, and I connected to water in a way I never had before. You don’t have much choice, with all that rain!

“Don’t say, don’t say there is no water to solace the dryness at our hearts. I have seen the fountain springing out of the rock wall and you drinking there,” wrote poet Denise Levertov, “And I too before your eyes found footholds and climbed to drink the cool water.”

Wherever you go this summer to renew your body, mind and spirit, remember that First Church holds worship every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. to hold you in whatever intensity, exhaustion, sorrow or joy you may be experiencing. We will welcome member Rev. Bowie Kling-Garcia on June 9 and reunite with our former Assistant Sabbatical Minister Rev. Jim Foti on August 18. Far flung member and former staff Cheri Taylor will speak from our pulpit July 7. And three members whose proposals were accepted, Andy Agacki, Amy Wilbourne, and Barbra Lancelot will speak on a variety of topics August 4, August 25 and September 1.

“Don’t say, don’t say there is no water. That fountain is there among its scalloped green and gray stones, it is still there and always there with its quiet song and strange power to spring in us, up and out through the rock.”

Be like the poet, go to the fountain for renewal, and have faith it is there in you, always.

Rev. Dena McPhetres, Associate Minister

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