I've always loved oxymorons...two ideas that do not really go together, words that are opposites. Some people joke and say "military intelligence" is an oxymoron, or "postal service." Painful joy is something like that. How can joy hurt? Do we have a different sense of pain when joy causes it than when short-circuited nerve endings do the damage?
Today, we drove to our bigger shopping town, across the mighty Columbia River. As we rounded a bend in the road, a vast panorama spread across a living canvas in front of us. We've seen this same scene once or twice a week for the last five months. Today, it was much the same as it had been every other day. I've always known this spot will greet me at this point in the highway. I've even had my husband pull over and allow me to take a photo here.
Mt. Hood, ringed by foggy clouds, reigned in the distance, awaiting new snows that will not deny the rugged peak much longer. Foothills protected its flanks while flowing below is an abundance of water that is hard to describe. This river abounds with so much water in spite of many dams that dissect its length. Columbia Gorge winds whipped up white caps beneath the railroad trestle far below our own track.
Hard tears salted my eyes and I had to squint hard to prevent an unexplainable and overwhelming instinct to cry. Not from sadness but from a momentary, fiery, consuming sense of Creation and beauty. Me, sitting there in the passenger seat of our little truck, imprisoned by the CTO vest, four aluminum rods keeping me from turning my head or lifting it up or down. These rods also keep me from becoming distracted by roadside diversions. Because I wear bifocals, my vision is blurred except for one horizontal segment through my glasses, for I cannot look up or down to find the right strength within the lenses like I can without the vest on. I can only see clearly looking out...straight ahead...and God brought into that narrow viewpoint a most inspiring scene. Perhaps more than some, I could appreciate with a deepness of soul, without distraction, that postcard setting and the burn of acknowledged blessing filled my throat and painfully moistened my eyes.
It was a good thing.