My first several years of Oregon life was relatively fire quiet. One fire a few miles away quickly contained.
Then 2020 lit the skies.
I scrolled Twitter under hashtags for the Oregon fires. Any account asking for prayer received a like from me.
Then 2021 lit the skies.
That year, it came nearer to my home. The smoke was thick in the air. I package taped my front door with garbage bags. My Twitter account gone, I opened the #firemappers website every day and prayed over Oregon. Rainy season started early, on Sept. 1, and I rejoiced at the clear blue skies.
Then 2022 lit the skies.
Oregon has a few conflagration fires this fire season. Prayers again supplicated the skies.
Accumulated weariness and stress seeps into our homes like the thick smoke the fires produce. Three years of devastating fire seasons is hard to bear, especially for those that have lost much.
The disciples had lost Jesus, and they were hiding from the Jewish leaders.
There is another fire blazing above the heads of the apostles. This visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit would equip them to spread the gospel. During times of calamity, it is a chance to get right with God. Or as C. S. Lewis writes in The Problem of Pain: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Several years ago, I ventured to David’s Tent in Salem to pray for Oregon. I went inside the white tent staked in the parking lot across from the state capital building to pray. Before I left, David’s Tent placed an invitation to write the name of the town that you came from (I think it was a small piece of wood) and I did. I wrote the name of my town and said a prayer over it too.
Inside the state capital building is a small gift shop. I bought a few things, among them a plague that had the state motto written in Latin and English: Alis Volat Propiis or She Flies With Her Own Wings.
The motto has not always been so. In 1854, Supreme Court Judge Jessie Quinn Thornton translated the Latin phrase and added it to the Oregon territory provisional government seal. It symbolized the independent spirit of the Oregon settlers outside both the British and United States government.
In 1957, it was changed to The Union, showing that Oregon was no longer divided by the issues of slavery from the Civil War. Finally, the motto She Flies With Her Own Wings returned home in 1987.
Oregon has been avant-garde in national legislation. Some laws include the recall of public officials, state-wide voter registration, and one dear to me, public access to the beaches.
Though I have lived in the Midwest most of my life, I have found a kinship with the spirit of Oregon – the beautiful vistas, the potential of her independent spirit.
Five Oregon counties are, for a second attempt, trying to join with Idaho since Salem does not represent conservative interests, and has a statewide super majority in all branches of government. I am torn. I desperately want Oregon to stay Oregon, but with draconian bills possibly being passed, living here would be miserable, to say the least.
Not only did I pray in Salem that day, I have walked the local beaches praying for my local area and beyond. I believe my prayers, and the prayers of other Oregonians, are stored in Heaven waiting for the right time to be answered.
Beside the scenic Marshfield channel, resides the Coos History Museum on the historic Front Street of Coos Bay.
As I entered the museum, Steve and John greeted me and made me feel comfortable.
The gift shop is located right inside the door, so no fee is necessary to enter. The shop contains a variety of items attractively displayed in a small space. The items are all Oregon-related, either here in Coos county, or spanning into the state of Oregon, or beyond. I purchased The Lewis and Clark Journals, a book on my reading wish list. T-shirts, souvenirs, and many other beautiful items grace the walls and shelves.
In the short corridor leading to the museum resided a beautifully crafted and polished myrtle wood desk, dated 1900. I would love to have written this post on that desk. A myrtle wood-dipped scented cotton ball released the scent of a wood found in the Oregon SW corner. These items foreshadow the five sensual delights about to unfurl. Though signs ask the visitors to not touch the museum pieces, they are attractively and minimally placed. A little imagination helps here, which is encouraged with signs starting with “hmm… points to ponder.”
Plaques speak and translate the languages of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw. One plaque displays the Lord’s Prayer. One greets you with Dai, Niishanax, meaning hello.
Speakers played the rhythm of ocean waves breaking on the sand, and painted seagull footprints walked me throughout the main part of the museum. The wall and floor colors of gray, blue, and green reminded me of the colors of the ocean and the pine trees.
The displays divide by the areas of Coos county: tidewater, seashore, and uplands. These wall dividers’ colors of blue and green corresponded to the area they represented.
Further subdivided by area are the towns that reside in Coos county. As a resident of Bandon, I focused on its history. Bandon holds the title for the best life-saving station on the river bar between 1868-1914. In juxtaposition, a display cites Bandon as being cursed by fire.
Several photos are on split canvases, giving them the illusion of 3D. Photographs were in both color and black and white.
Larger-than-life items arrayed the floor and ceiling areas. A tuba hung from the wall so you could picture someone inhabiting that space around it with music. Or a chain saw so you could imagine a logger high up in the treetops cutting them for wood. The Roosevelt ferry wheel – as tall as me – steered transportation before the bridges were built. And a Fresnel lens lit the way for storm-tossed ships.
The All Things Cranberries case included Cranberry Cola. Would it be bittersweet?
Two lynching sections, one inside and one metal plague freestanding outside the front door, display the dark side of our county.
Community involvement in the museum was encouraged during the building and remains today. A Bay area short film plays on a tablet before entering the museum, courtesy of the North Bend Boy Scout Troop #156. During the building of the museum, a call went out asking for artists’ contributions. Beautifully painted flying glass birds hang from the ceiling. A display case holds knots and information to join the Knot Club. Volunteers participate with their time.
Building of the museum was completed in 2015, with the grand opening on September 9. Governor Brown cut the ribbon at the ceremony, and entertainment was provided throughout the day. The Coos County Historical Society, which began in 1891, operates the Coos History Museum.
The museum is a packed sensory experience, built with love from the people of Coos County.
But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; Hosea 13:4-5 ESV
Farming in an arid climate? Congress said yes in 1902.
The Klamath Reclamation Project started shortly after Congress passed the federal Reclamation Act. When completed, water traveled through 185 miles from reservoirs, dams, and canals from the Upper Klamath Lake to the farmland.
Veterans from both World Wars received homesteads. Drained lakes and marshes carved out the 200,000 acres of new farmland. Wildlife’s homes were preserved using water from reservoirs and recycled irrigation water.
Currently, a few groups rely on water for their cows and crops. Klamath Basin crops include potatoes, alfalfa, horseradish, and mint. Cattle ranchers need water for meat production. The Klamath Tribes believe sucker fish are sacred.
As well as sucker fish, salmon need adequate water levels. Flows of rushing water keep salmon from bacterial infections.
As huge as the Upper Klamath Lake is, at twenty-six miles long and six miles wide, the lake is only six feet deep. The geology and hydrology, or the study of the earth’s components and the movement of water over that earth, does not allow for any carryover water or soil storage of rainwater. And what water does accumulate is subject to toxic algae blooms. Draining the marshes left phosphorus and nitrogen levels high. This mineralization allows algae to grow and deplete oxygen.
According to a state water department, the groundwater levels have dropped about forty feet in the last couple of decades.
Klamath Falls felled a giant sequoia tree in Kit Carson Park this year. The news story reported new life through new projects from the dead and dying tree.
An article from Klamath Falls newspaper, the Herald and News, published a couple of short stories describing a dystopian answer to the conflict between all the parties needing water.
The farmers and ranchers have voted to access water, despite the possibility of putting their federal drought funding in jeopardy.
These are desperate times for those living in the Klamath Basin, and it affects all of us due to the loss of ranching and agricultural products they provide.
When times are desperate, the best answer are desperate prayers of heartfelt repentance to the Creator who made the beautiful Klamath Basin. Just as the people of Klamath Falls found ways to reclaim a dead and dying tree from arid soil, so can we reclaim water through our prayers before God. Only He has the wisdom and ability to bring the rain and how to bring life to all.
Joseph’s brothers realized what their father’s death could mean. So they thought, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us? What if he decides to pay us back for all the evil we did to him?” They sent a messenger to Joseph to say, “Before your father died, he commanded us, ‘This is what you should say to Joseph, “I’m begging you to forgive the crime and the sin your brothers committed against you. What they did to you was very evil.” ’ So now, please forgive our crime, because we are servants of your father’s God.” Joseph cried when he got their message. Then his brothers also came and immediately bowed down in front of him. “We are your slaves!” they said. Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I can’t take God’s place. Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it. This was to keep many people alive, as he is doing now. Don’t be afraid! I will provide for you and your children.” In this way he reassured them, setting their minds at ease. Genesis 50:15-21 GW
Oregon has a political party super-majority. Our state, like many others, consists of rural conservatives and urban liberals. The division between these two philosophies runs roughly ten percentage points in the liberal’s favor – though during today’s climate it may run lower – with several independent parties. Due to the minority party not using legally available means to resist overreach, the conservatives have little recourse.
The Founding Fathers structured our national constitution so that no one branch of government had absolute power — this is true of the states also. Oregon is finding out the hard way.
If one party can call all the shots, then the other party can feel hopeless. Conservatives’ many needs are not met. Short-term solutions can involve civil disobedience or peaceful protest to garner the attention of the supermajority. Convoys in some localities this weekend are an example. A few long-haul solutions mean solving gerrymandering issues, the eastern and southern counties ceding to Idaho, or voting in more local elections.
This week, leading up to the convoy at the capital today, Oregonians are praying for a return to a lawful government.
Joseph was rent from his family for approximately twenty years. His brothers were jealous of him and sold him as a slave. They convinced his father that Joseph was dead when presented with his coat covered by animal blood.
After Jacob died (his family reunited before he did), his brothers came before him starving and humbled. Just as he had dreamed metaphorically of unhealthy wheat stalks and cows many years before. Evil had been done, but God had a plan to save his family and descendants from decimation.
Just as Joseph reunited with his family, Oregon can reunite under the hand of God.
Prayer should be our first, middle, and last response for redress. Wisdom comes from petitioning the Lord for redress. He hears the cries of conservative Oregonians who come before Him in humility. Only He can give us the strategy to return us all to working together. It is a given some will not want to work together, and God will have wisdom for that too.
Division can be healed. Just ask Joseph.