An Edifying Snow Day

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES we awaken to another inundation. Limb-sized snow bombs roused us several times during the night, shaking the little cabin—and at least one large limb broke off and fell on the deck. But we arise this morning to sparking sunshine and a barometer that says the storm is past. Yesterday was The Caretaker’s first

Distressed Decisions on a Pleasant Morning

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES IT IS A FINE AND PLEASANT MORNING. In true Minnesota fashion we are grateful that it is 15 degrees below zero in March, and not 35 below. The snow is sparkling in the Churchyard, the stumps all have white, high-top hats on, the tall pines all reach for the heavens just like the

Quilt of Snow

Quilt of Snow

TODAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES, all things rest under a quilt of snow. It is a reminder that hardship is often accompanied by beauty. Squirrels bound along, leaving tracks in their wake. The Pileated Woodpecker flashes through the woods, a streak of red and black and white. The Pine Siskins have a one word, hymn, as always–“Sweeeeeet?” The

The Cheery Chickadees

The Cheery Chickadees

AS WE PLAN for summer trips and Road Scholar expeditions, we awaken here at the CHURCH O’ THE PINES to below zero temperatures. And news that at Lake Kabetogama—scene of our August National Park boat trip to Kettle Falls—the overnight low was 42 below zero! That’s 42 degrees less than nothing!! I have been at our little cabin on Fawn

Every day in a beautiful place is a beautiful day

HERE AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES a soft quilt of cloud hangs over the forest. It is not an especially pretty morning—no spritely sparkles or brilliant beams of light. But it is a morning full of promise nonetheless. When the boys were little I made up a saying and repeated it often: Every day in a beautiful place is

Gitche Manito’s Owl

Gitche Manito's Owl

ON THIS SUNDAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES BY THE FROZEN MISSISSIPPI, the crows are hollering and squalling wildly from the woods. Perhaps they have found Brother Great Horned Owl (or Sister) and are feeling outraged. Again. Crows love to bedevil owls. It is the smiling story of the Ojibwa that when Gitche Manito was creating things, on the

Soft and Far Away

soft and far away

ON THIS SUNDAY AT THE CHURCH O’ THE PINES the grounds are wrapped in cotton batting. The sounds of the world all seem soft and far away. Even the brash laughter of the crimson-capped Pileated Woodpecker is muffled. The first real snowstorm of the season has left the forest changed. Some of the big pines here have seen 120 winters,

Caretaker and the Cardinals

Caretaker and the Cardinals

AT THE CHURCH OF THE PINES the Sabbath is often a day of rest. But not always. And this beautiful winter day has found the Caretaker out among the Cardinals and Chickadees, still clearing downed trees and opening up trails from bad windstorms of the last few years. It seems an endless project. Hard work. But I don’t mind it.

Promise of a Fair Day

Promise of a Fair Day

HERE AT THE CHURCH O THE PINES, on our Minnesota stretch of the great Mississippi, the day begins with a cold, gray dawn. But along the horizon line there is the slightest pink cast, the promise of a fair day. Under the ice, Minn of the Mississippi sleeps; while above, the downstream geese, gathered at a last patch of open

December 2nd Church O’ The Pines

It is a bleak December day at the Church O’The Pines. The wind rushes and moans in the pine-tops, and they creak and groan with it. The river is all iced over and snow blows and gathers across the ice. The sky is gray and there is a damp and cutting cold. But the humble members of our congregation are