Another River, Another Prayer

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe Ocean Calls Her Rivers Home. Oregon, 2014.

 Another Thin Place

Does fresh water, running towards the sea, stretch a place thin*?  I’ve written before (more than once) about Laity Lodge and the tranquility that inhabits the air on the campus along the banks of the Frio river.  Last week, my husband and I visited Oregon to watch our much-beloved cousin Marlaina graduate from the University of Oregon. (Yes, she’s a Duck. and yes, it rained buckets on her graduation ceremony.) We stayed at The Eagle Rock Lodge, on the McKenzie River.

My husband pulled our rental car into the lodge’s driveway and I felt the ambient tension that lives in my neck unhinge itself.  When my shoe touched the ground, a strange sensation passed through me.

It was the opposite of an electric shock. 

It didn’t zing through my body; it did the inverse of zinging, whatever that is, through me. 

This sensation has greeted me in one other place: Laity Lodge.

Along the McKenzie, the air felt softer and the colors hugged us. The trees poked higher into the reassuring sky. The water sang  her meandering  way to a reunion with the sea.

Inside the lodge, the great room, expansive and generous, beckoned with warm cookies and welcoming wine. Piano music bathed us as we stood at the window, watching the river slip by. I sent my ear after the song: Be Thou My Vision. Wherever I rested my eye, I saw fellowship: paintings and lamps and napkins agreed on their devotion to harmony.

I think you can see that it’s hard for me to dress these special places in words. I’m amused, both by the thinness of the places and the inadequacy of my vocabulary. And there’s something more.

Rivers mystify me. I grew up beside the ocean, not beside a river.  I know salty spray and bass-drum waves clobbering  the helpless beach. Rivers are different.

In rivers, the water drifts along like every day is Sabbath, then scampers through rapids like a schoolgirl chasing dandelion fluff.

In rivers, the water pauses to rest in silent pools, then hurls her drama-queen self over falls.

Special people work at these places. I told you before that one feels cared for at Laity Lodge because everybody cares. At Eagle Rock Lodge, I recognize what I see:

Debbie, the proprietor, welcomes us with the calm assurance that this sheltering place is good. She doesn’t boast, but she knows.

rabbit conga

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

Psalm 37:3 (ESV)


*A thin place is a place where heaven bends close, close to earth. Read all about it here, with my gratitude to Mark Roberts.


  1. I am so glad you enjoyed your stay in Oregon. It is a beautiful place and my home.

  2. My whole body quivered just reading this. Honest.

  3. Deanna Yeakle

    You know I am not religious, but I am so awed by nature and love to be respectfully in places where it thrives. I’m so pleased you had a wonderful trip. We will be in that area, Salem and Portland in July. I am so looking forward to the trip. I am always amazed when we pass the California, Oregon border at the intense change in natural beauty, which actually really begins around the time you hit Shasta. Also I love your description of rivers. Having lived in a county in which 3 rivers flow through, I have always found them calm inducing, meditative and a reminder of the almighty power that is nature.

    • Deanna, I am so glad you came by, and that we can focus together on the points we both embrace. We arrived at Klamath Falls at 8 am, so we were sleeping on the train when we passed through Mount Shasta’s region and the border.

      I drove once from Washington to northern Nevada (in January. In a storm. With my mother and two dogs, and my dad in his car calling periodically to chiding me for going too slowly.) and while we passed that area in daylight, the trip was so terrifying that I didn’t notice the scenery much. And it was also under snow, if I recall correctly. . .

      Have a grand time when you go. xoxo

  4. Sounds like you found some words, Sheila and wonderful ones they are. It feels like what you’re bumping up against here is the frustration of expressing something that goes beyond words, so you come at it from many different angle, tossing metaphors like spinning plates and the end result is that you DO convey something of it all. Makes me want to sit by a stream somewhere soon.

  5. This is just lovely, Sheila. So glad you had this getaway and that it became a thin place for you.

    • Thank you, Diana. It was a wonderful, and much needed, break from our routine. I’m beginning to think those thin places are all over–I just need the eyes to see. You’re on my heart, sweet friend.

  6. I am perusing your site and landed here, feeling the draw of the ocean upon the rivers. I shared a bit ago that I had lived in Southern California much of my earlier life, but also lived in Portland, OR for 4 years in the 1980s and 1 year in Bend, OR, loving Oregon very, very much. The green, the mountains, the rivers, the ocean…all are so beautiful and different from the beauty of California. I love God’s creations wherever they seem to be, especially out west.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • We just made our first trip to Oregon. Now I know one can have a state-crush. I’m swooning over Oregon.

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