Saturday, August 7, 2010


Today I used my second day off while at Fort Lewis to head up to Olympic National Park and go for a short hike before spending the afternoon studying. The Olympic Mountains are one of the few places in Washington and Oregon that I had never been to - until today. This morning I headed up to the southeastern edge of the park - the Staircase entrance west of Hoosdsport.

As I drove up the 101 along Hood Canal I was struck by the Ocean scent. I've always heard that a scent was one of the strongest reminders of past places and events and this proved true today. As I drove along the canal I was taken back to the numerous holidays I spent with my family at my grandparent's house in Ocean Park, Washington. It took me back to going clamming early in the morning on the beach, taking a walk into town with my family, and waiting for the fresh clam chowder my grandma would be making for dinner that night. I think the reminiscing from the sea-scent set me up for an even more powerful association shortly thereafter.
I made it to Hoodsport and turned inland into the Olympic Peninsula. It was a drizzly, cloudy day but I paid the entrance fee at the park gate and set out on the Staircase Trail. Shortly after beginning the hike, after crossing over a foot-bridge into the woods, I was struck by an exhilarating scent which took me back to innumerable lazy days of childhood spent with my brothers exploring the woods and creeks around my home in Southwest Washington. It was that fresh, sweet, slightly musty scent produced by thousands of tons of decaying wood overlayed with a carpet of deep, lush moss and ferns damp from the light rain and mist. It took me back to those days of building forts, catching frogs, salamanders and crawdads and fishing for native rainbow trout that we would fry up later that day.
As I hiked along the North Fork of the Skokomish River this morning, taking in my surroundings with much joy, I was reminded that any beauty or glory here only points to an infinitely greater, stronger and eternal beauty and glory, the glory of the One who made this place. The lyrics which came to mind as I hiked this morning are below:

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul's glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heav'n can boast.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine.


Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

I remember learning slightly differently lyrics to 'Beautiful Savior' as a child, but the message is the same. Since it is so old, there are bound to be many translations. Right now my favorite song is 'Sing Along' by Sixteen Cities.
Somehow, being human, creation is a means by which I feel I can in a small way comprehend the Grandeur of God. Many other miracles seem so intangible, yet feeling the warmth of a sun so large and so far away, and standing on the shore or an ocean watching its tide be moved by a moon so far away, and know that this is all in God's command, is somewhat comprehensible as to how truly Great God is.
And yes, we are very blessed here in the NW to have so much beautiful creation around us--Olympic Rain forest has to be one of the most beautiful places in this country. I am fortunate to have regular access to your wonderful photography--and poetry for that matter. You really have a way with words, Matthew.

I hope the rest of your time at Fort Lewis goes well.

~Scarlet Pimpernel

Matt Perkins said...

Hey SP,

I'll have to check out that song you mentioned. I think that's a very exciting thought to think that we can only comprehend the grandeur of God in very small ways now - to think of the joy that brings, and then to think about the fact that we will be comprehending His glory, beauty and grandeur for all eternity and there will be no end to gaining an ever increasing comprehension of His glory. I don't think any other conception of heaven would be truly heavenly. I think I've also sung slightly different lyrics to Fairest Lord Jesus. When I searched for the lyrics this version came up and I liked it so I used it. Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Matt, I agree. Nothing is more relaxing than going out into nature and taking time to breath when most days are hectic and as super-stimulating as yours have been. Great pictures, thanks for sharing. ~A.J.

Rich said...

matt, just stumbled onto your blog as I was doing some research. excellent hymn for a hike. another one is Watts' "I Sing the Mighty Power of God"

I tried to find another way to contact you but looks as if this is the best way. Me and my family will be moving to the Olympic Pen. in the next couple of years to start a church...likely in Port Angeles, but we are open to God's leading. Anyway, after looking through your blog I see that you and I see pretty much eye to eye theologically, so I feel comfortable asking, What's your opinion/observation on the spiritual condition of the Olympic Peninsula? I can tell from some cold research that it is in much need of the gospel, but I don't have many first hand accounts. Any info about what the people are like/your opinion on what it might take to start a church, etc would be great.

Just taking a shot in the dark here but I can tell from your blog that you love Washington and Jesus.

Anyway, feel free to email me a response if you don't want to load up your comments!

sounddoxology AT gmail DOT com

(I also have a blog about worship at