More About the Author
I was born in Hobbs, New Mexico and moved to Roswell while an infant. I lived there until I was 16 when I moved to Austin, Texas where I attended high school and college. While a freshman at the University of Texas I met Christ and two years later my future wife, Cindy. Before my spiritual birth I believed God, unlike Santa Clause, was real, but like Santa Clause, couldn't be known. That led me to conclude nothing mattered. And then the paradigm shift. Jesus flipped my world view upside down. Suddenly I realized God could be known and nothing else mattered. I mean nothing else mattered compared to knowing God.
As a writer I try to look under the rock to see what's hidden. Once I see something I have fun writing about it. I especially enjoy discovering how each puzzle peace fits into the picture. I'm a tenacious editor. I suspect I've edited almost every page of every book I've written thirty times . . . or more. I only wish I had more time to make each line better. I love wrapping sentences with God's grace.
I live in West Linn, Oregon with my wife, Cindy. We have three sons and two grandchildren, a chihuahua and a golden-doodle. I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, scuba diving with my wife and working out with my sons and the Golden-doodle, who runs on the tread mill while I ride a stationary bike. I've posted four pictures and here's the story behind them. The fallen tree I'm standing by fell across my yard. The one where I'm wearing a cross was taken by my youngest son, Paul, in Jackson, MS. Cindy and I had just finished dinner at It Rains Fishes, a restaurant in Bonaire, NA. The two girls live at a Lifesong for Orphans orphanage/boarding house in India. Sharp kids who are doing very well in school.
Below is the story of the tree that fell across my yard.
The old growth Tree towered over a hundred feet into the air. It was bigger at the base than two men with outstretched arms could reach around. Decades ago its top had been hit by lightning and snapped off, leaving a snaggle tooth tip that pointed up.
The first time I entered our home, twelve years ago, I gazed at it in wonder. The house rests on the side of a ravine in the Pacific Northwest. Below it a creek carries water downhill when it rains. On the other side of the creek, at the base of the V shaped slope, stood the Tree. Like a prehistoric sentry, it was too old and tired to nurture branches and needles. But had a wonder of its own. Later I would learn that its dead limbs served as perches for eagles, turkey vultures, woodpeckers, and sparrows. Squirrels made homes in the tiny rooms inside the holes that marred its side like battle wounds. This magnificent Tree captured the scene so completely that everything around it faded away, like a picture frame holding a Picasso.
Since that time, I've spent hours enjoying the wonder of that tree. To the left of my desk is a large window that offers a view of the ravine. With binoculars I've watched squirrels chase each other around its giant trunk. In the summer I've watched as many as six turkey vultures resting on its smooth sprigs with outstretched wings, like feathered solar panels, soaking in the sunshine.
I've seen it withstand blasts of wind and torrents of rain. I've seen it dressed as an inverted icicle after a coating of winter snow. Through all of this, it stood tall and sturdy, a constant over the years.
Last summer, my two grandchildren and I hiked down the steep slope to visit the tree. Standing at the foot of its massive trunk we looked up and uttered the only word we could find: "Wow." Viewing it through a window or from our deck didn't showcase its massive size like standing beside and beneath it.
Two weeks ago one of my sons mentioned that the old tree was leaning. "Have you noticed, Dad?"
I walked to the window and inspected it. Then I checked it out from the deck at the back of the house. It did seem to be leaning. Or, had it been leaning all along? If I had compared it with pictures taken over the years, I would have seen that not too long ago it stood straight. I didn't make the comparison because I assumed a 100-year-old tree wouldn't fall in my lifetime.
A few days ago, early in the morning, I looked out the window by my desk. Something was different, something was missing. And then I saw it. Like a picture erased from its canvas, leaving only the frame, the forest looked empty, naked. The old dead Tree had disappeared - fallen to the ground, probably while I slept. Initially, I didn't believe it. I mean, I didn't want to believe it.
Had it really fallen? Even now, I lean back in my chair and look out the window. It is gone.
Later that day, I climbed down the ravine to see its remains. It had fallen with force, taking with it trees and branches and anything else that tried to soften its landing. The snaggle tooth top and everything thirty feet below, shattered when it hit the ground hurling shrapnel of bark and rotten wood in every direction. The remaining fifty feet of the trunk rested where it fell--across a small stream whose water could barely squeeze under the behemoth.
I realize I'm sentimental, but I wish I had seen it fall. As I thought about that I recalled someone asking me a silly question one day: If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it fall, did it make any noise? Absurd thought. The Tree surely made a thunderous sound. Hopefully, the squirrels woke up and leaped to safety before it hit the ground. Surely the birds that dozed within its walls winged away without harm.
If I had known it would fall while I lived, I would have visited it more often and taken more pictures. I would have showcased its height by capturing its image from the ground looking up. I would have saved forever an image of the vertical furrows marking its bark like a patriarch's face, wrinkled and worn.
Had I know it would fall, I would have stood sentry watching so I could be with it in its final moment of glory. I would have been there to see gravity bring the tower to the tipping point. I would have heard the cracking sound when the last tethering roots finally snapped. And I would have watched in awe as it did what it had never done in more than a human lifetime.
A crashing roar surely accompanied the fall as it raced, with deadly force, through trees and branches, followed by a ground-jarring blast, momentarily sucking all sound from the air. And then the groaning earth, falling dirt particles, twigs and branches and the excited screeches of jays, screaming in confusion - because the Great Tree had fallen.
As I said goodbye to the Tree last week, standing by its side, I recalled the words of Solomon: "Whether a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie" (Ecclesiastes 11:3.