Monday’s Meander: The Grotto in Early Spring

Another family gathering in March during a sporadic rainfall included a visit to The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother in Portland. Though I am not Catholic, I find it a lovely meditative expanse among huge trees. I do walk the labyrinth, designed after the one at Chartres Cathedral, from time to time.

It felt like a good choice to stroll about and share quiet talk.

The 62 acres upon which it was designed were purchased in 1924. A cave for a scultpure of Mary holding the crucified Christ was chiselled from a 110 ft. high mound of basalt rock. A stone altar was made shortly after. People come to pray, leave flowers and light candles for loved ones. The first mass was conducted in 1924. There is also a church and smaller chapels on the grounds, as well as a contemporary place of prayer that oversees some of Portland and across the Columbia River towards Washington.

Our twin grandchildren were fascinated.

This is a Roman Catholic sanctuary and place of worship, lived within and run by the Order of Friar Servants of Mary. Sometimes they are glimpsed moving about, but mostly they do their work on the grounds or in the monastery atop the bluff. In this area there were built the Stations of the Cross, small chapels and gardens.

Below, outdoor seating is seen for Mass in good weather and various family members (2 daughters, daughter-in-law, a future son-in-law, Marc and me, granddaughters) chatting before using the elevator to the top of the bluff. My son Josh and visiting daughter, Cait, are middle photo.

Shots below: a glimpse of the glass/cement chapel when disembarking elevator; entrance to walkways on second leve; 3 views of the contemporary chapel atop the bluff. This building holds a copy of the Pieta.

I am always stilled and deeply moved as I slowly make my way to the center of this labyrinth (see small areas above). When I arrive at the center unbidden tears flow. I feel the power. I became enthralled with Chartres Cathedral and the original labyrinth when I read about it and studied photos as a teen. I had hoped to one day visit. But, too, this sacred space of daily, intentional compassion and healing prayer of the Servites imbues the area. The quietude of the Grotto reaches and settles inside; towering trees tower over all as people walk and rest. I am reminded anew of my love of God and God’s love of us as we sort out life amid the pain and troubles of this world we live in for a short time. The labyrinth reminds me of the intricate design and mysteries of the universe, eternal Light, and the soul journey we each undertake to find or refresh hope and wholeness.

I wrote no poem last Friday. It was Good Friday, and I am Christian. And the following day was both the third birthday of our twin granddaughters, as well as the first anniversary of our 26 y.o. granddaughter’s sudden death last year. Yes, the same day. I could share nothing of it. Now it is noted and over this year, and I am grateful so many of our family were gathered together in love.

Monday’s Meander: A Favorite Place Shared with Family

It is a bit hard to believe it’s still spring, as last night we had a significant snowfall. It still covers roofs and grass as I write. Late last night as it descended, I pulled potted flowers close to the exterior wall, under the eaves, to better protect them. Thus far they seem alright today, amazingly.

Just a couple weeks ago it was light jacket weather. When daughter Cait visited from VA. we enjoyed our springy meanders, including one here: The Bishop’s Close Garden at Elk Rock. I truly adore this spot along the river. A spattering of others were on the paths–so good to see smiles. I’ve often posted pictures of this garden over the years. This time I’ll leave out its interesting Scottish origins and Portland history, and only share shots I managed while talking and walking. A few blooms had opened; it will become more lush and colorful. But Cait was enchanted. I’m happy we experienced this special place together, at last.

Marc and Cait at start of a trail
Top of the path, looking over Willamette River toward Elk Island.

Monday’s Meanders: An Awakening Springtime in a Japanese Garden

It’s been a couple weeks since posting, as our Virginia daughter visited our Portland family for 10 days. The time scurried by as we engaged in various family gatherings. We also sought out local destinations. Often it was gardens, a couple of which Cait hadn’t visited before. We appreciated the Japanese Garden with its brightened springtime finery. It is nestled in Washington Park, part of larger Forest Park at the edge of city center. Yet, what a world far beyond.

Many people were present, but many shots provided unobstructed views. There are not so many flowers but the simplicity and serenity of design with an abundance of trees, plants and water features were wonderful to behold, as ever. Please enjoy the meander.

The smiles of Marc, Cait and myself speak to a fine day shared; since a friendly person offered to snap a picture, we obliged.

A glimpse of downtown Portland from the Japanese Garden.

Monday’s Meander: Roaming Riverland

Not long ago, I took my still-sore knee and headed to the Champoeg State Heritage Area, an Oregon state park, after three months’ absence due to winter rains. A beaming blue day with temps in the mid-50s enticed us to ramble through woods, fields and wetlands that border the Willamette River. Campers utilize this park well and fishing is popular but we saw people only here and there that afternoon, with a few walking their dogs.

Spring is indeed stirring more in Oregon. Next visits will reveal even richer greens and brighter birdsong along the many rivers we utilize and admire.

Monday’s Meanders: Coastal Fun, Pt. 2

After visiting the small beach of Short Sands, we continued south to Manzanita, a town we’ve enjoyed for decades and the long beach. I’d hoped also to visit the independent bookstore, Cloud and Leaf Bookstore. It’s owned by Deborah Reed, an author I’ve enjoyed and who presented at a Portland writers workshop I attended. Alas, it was closed. We stopped, as usual, by Mazanita News and Espresso for delicious coffees and pastries for the beach walk.

Below, an important sign; some still choose to ignore it at their peril. It–like so many along the coast–is a tsunami area, also.

I love this beach in part because there are many sand dunes which I don’t often see along the mid-to-northern coast. But there tend to be higher winds here–hence, the sand swept into beautiful shapes–and walking can be downright painful. We had a good afternoon with calm wind. The smoky-foggy haziness seen on the way remained awhile, then cleared. There were such interesting vistas and activities that others were enjoying. As afternoon turned to dusk, the light was magical on dunes and water. Enjoy!

Someone had created a fantastic labyrinth, below.

Note the very faint emanation of a “light rainbow” effect of the light in photo below.

A beautiful end to another enjoyable Oregon coast outing. Have a lovely week!