Friday, November 15, 2013

Healing is a Sacred Journey: Larch Mountain Fall Walk

Note from Virginia Pickles Jones:  I am a child sex abuse and date rape survivor who came forward in my 40s.  I was sexually abused by two teenaged boys when I was 4 and struggled with depression, low self esteem and anxiety through out my childhood.  Due to the lack of proper treatment, I was not able to protect myself from date rape at age 22.  And yet, despite the lack of support, I managed to endure through the one thing open to me -- time spent hiking in nature.  The very act of walking helps fight depression as when we move the feet forward, we also move the mind forward.  As an adult, I tried Prozac for depression.  I actually found prayer and meditation more healing and helpful than any medicine.  Prayer and meditation did not take my problems away.  They made me calmer and stronger as I coped with my problems, but depression and anxiety can make prayer and meditation difficult because it is hard to distract the mind from repetitive, negative thoughts.  Walking in nature, hiking and kayaking in beautiful places made the meditative state automatic.  For example, on Mother's Day 2008, I was struggling with depression but went for a walk by three Columbia River Gorge waterfalls with my children.  The waterfalls were so beautiful that I went from struggling with tearfulness to elation within two hours.  The beauty of the waterfalls and the movement of walking took me from repetitive, negative thoughts to thinking about the beauty of the place and the moment.  After all life is usually a mixture of good, boring and challenging even for happy poeple.  But we can create the opportunities for pure joy that cost us nothing -- by walking in a garden or in nature.

I experience this on Mother's Day 2008.  When my children and I arrived at our car at the end of the hike by the waterfalls, we found that the passenger's seat window was broken and our picnic lunch from New Seasons market gone along with the chocolate bar and Mother's Day gift my daughter had made for me.  Even so, I did not descend to the sadness I felt before the hike.  The high of the hike was so high, I just descended to an ordinary mood of neither depressed nor elated.

Whether we are high on the beauty of nature or merely "fine," we are able to move forward through prayer, mediation and learning new relationship skills much more easily than when we are struggling to keep sadness and anger and pain at bay.

One of my favorite places to heal myself by hiking is Larch Mountain near Portland, Oregon.  Multnomah Creek arises in the caldera of Larch Mountain below the peak -- Sherrod Point -- and then descends to world famous Multnomah Falls.  My favorite times to hike on Larch Mountain are June, October and early November when the mountain is often shrouded in mist creating a mystical atmosphere.

Below are photos from a recent walk on Larch Mountain along with my reflections and meditations inspired by my walk.  Soon a my You Tube (Healing is a Sacred Journey) site will include a slideshow with these meditations.  An older, less developed video can already be found there:Larch Mountain Meditation Walk ( ).

Larch Mountain Fall Walk

Rain washes the macadam road as we drive to Larch Mountain on a foggy Fall day.

The forest lines the way: Tall, spindly second growth Douglas Firs, Sword Ferns, withered bronzed fronds of bracken, leathery, green, holly shaped Oregon Grape, and Vine Maples, a few golden leaves clinging  to their branches before the final fall into winter.

The road winds around the mountain’s west side to......

The fog shrouded parking lot for the trails to Sherrod Point, Multnomah Falls and Oneotah Creek.

You cannot see through the mist from end to end....

Sometimes in life our path is obscured from us.  What can we do to find our path?

Larch Mountain has many trails.  Today we take the path to Sherrod Point.

The trail winds through the woods...

….and passes trees bent by many seasons of snow.

As with trees, we are bent and shaped by the burdens we carry.  But sometimes burdens nurture beauty ...  
What burdens are you carrying?  
What beauty can you nurture from those burdens?

Two tree grew intertwined, becoming one at the base.  

How is your life intertwined with others?  Do they help you grow or do they hinder you?

Further down the trail we see a tree clinging to the mountain, it’s roots laid bare by erosion.  Some windy winter night not enough soil will remain to support the tree through the storm, and the tree will fall.

Have your roots been eroded?  How?  

What are you doing to hold on?

Two paths meet in the forest, but we can only choose one .

How do you choose your path in life?

Rocky outcroppings. exposed ancient volcanic core, line our path in places.

....along with Bear Grass, which is not a grass, but a flowering plant the bears long stems of white blossoms in the spring...

Here the path becomes steep as we climb to the peak of Larch Mountain.

The soil thins; tree roots cling to the rocks like talons

Sometimes we must hold on to life tightly as our base of support erodes away..

On the steep, rocky slopes trees grow spindly and stunted


Do our circumstances leave too little fertile soil for us to grow straight and strong? 

Can we improve our circumstances?

The narrow rocky path leads away..

We return to the broad, paved path leading upwards into the misty abyss.....

A narrow boundary fence keeps us from falling

Boundaries keep us safe, but if they are too high, they can obscure our view, hamper our relationships.

Do you have careful boundaries in your relationships with others?

Can you think of a time when your boundaries were too low and you did not keep yourself safe?  What happened?  What can you do to keep yourself safe in the future?

Can you think of a time when your boundaries were too high and impeded your relationships with others?

Sometimes we fall into the abyss when we do not keep safe boundaries.  How do we heal our wounds?

I heal by coming to Larch Mountain....

I Pause where the rocky peak falls off into the unseen caldera below....

Life clings to the cliff face.  Each niche offers an opportunity for survival.

I lose myself in thought..

I lose my losses in awe and mystery and the myriad patterns, textures and colors of rocks and plants: Lichens and mosses, Buckwheat and Penstemon.

Then I continue on to the top, to the viewpoint.

the steep pitch of the peak drops off into the abyss...

Heading back down the path to the parking lot....

I find a dead tree, it’s bark peeling into piles around it’s base.

Sometimes life’s wounds lay us bare to the flesh..shedding the rough exterior that protects our core....making us vulnerable...

How are you vulnerable?

In the forest these trees offer homes to squirrels and woodpeckers and beetles...

Can we find new life and new growth when our wounds lay bare our souls?

Can you find a virtue or a strength in your vulnerability?

We come to the fork in the path.  I take the path not taken before

...and find the ghosts of a long ago Forest Service campground.....

Sometimes the ghost of our past haunt us.  What ghosts lurk in you mind from a past half forgotten?

I return to the path through the forest and follow.

........where it leads....

..full circle back to the beginning and the journey home.......

Copyright 2013 Virginia Pickles Jones, All Rights Reserved

This blog is being made into a slide show for the You Tube Channel:  Healing is a Sacred Journey

Check out these two slideshows already posted:

The Toad and The Princess -- about Rhonda "Trullinger" Madison

"The Toad and The Princess" is a story encompassing some of the great truths a certain princess has learned in her life lessons.

Some truths are from the great book, the Bible; other truths are the simple steps used by Twelve-Step groups.

Join a princess on her journey through lessons to serve her father while learning to keep focused on the tasks and moving forward in the face of friends who do not yet understand the truth this princess has learned. This story is about ending violence against others.
Rhonda has experienced many life-changing events, including the loss of a son in a drunk-driving accident. Rhonda has also had experience with violence, including domestic violence. It is Rhonda's desire to help the world see the truth about violence and the current attempts to change others.

When leaving a dangerous marriage, Rhonda experienced the attacks of well-meaning friends and community leaders. One day Rhonda wrote this fairytale to help kids of all ages see the importance of accepting people for who they are, not who we want them to be. This book contains powerful and valuable information.

Bullying is just another form of violence and learning the skills of inner strength and walking away from all forms of violence is the only way to stop all forms of abuse and violence. Bullying works because the "victim" believes the lies, this is true of all forms of domestic violence.

The world is domestic for it is our home. Any violence, anywhere in the world is domestic violence. Only when each person knows they are worthy of freedom from all violence will they call upon their inner voice and strength to stand against the attacks and walk in freedom and peace. What good is it to have life if that life is misery?

Please use the information in this book to take a deeper look at the words and deeds of everyone around you and decide to live differently.

Note by Virginia Pickles Jones:  Rhonda is a new blogger for the Garden of Roses: Stories of Abuse and Healing.  She is a domestic violence survivor from Wallowa County, Oregon.  If you want a copy of The Toad and The Princess, contact the publisher ( or order from a bookstore local to Wallowa County -- The Bookloft (107 E. Main St. - Enterprise, OR 97828 - 541-426-3351Email: or check out

If you want a EBook, contact the publisher. 

Or you can contact Rhonda by E-mail at with "your book" in the subject line so it can be retrieved if it is sent to spam.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

When Disease Strikes the Beloved Garden by Rhonda Madison

Dear Friends:  A new blogger Rhonda Madison will be posting to The Garden of Roses:  Stories of Abuse and Healing.  Rhonda is a domestic violence survivors from Wallowa County and the author of a book for children about coping with domestic violence -- "The Toad and The Princess."  Rhonda's post, "When the Disease Strikes the Beloved Garden" appears to me to be true on more than one level.  It is about gardening, but is also about us survivors.  We have trouble trusting when our trust has been so abused, but we may not have all the tools we need for healing all by ourselves.  We need resources and help with healing to flourish and bloom abundantly.  -- Virginia Jones

To treat leaf spot, mildew and scab diseases in garden plants begin with proper Ph soil. Test kits for Ph soil are available and a must first step in treating these disease. Soil Ph should be between 5 or lower or 7 or higher. Once this Ph is determined the gardener needs to treat the soil with the proper fertilizer to adjust soil to correct Ph. Commercial or organic fertilizers right the balance.

Once the soil is balanced there are both organic and commercial sprays to treat these diseases. Non-toxic treatments such as vinegar and water sprays, baking soda sprays and a multitude of plant based spray treatments made at home.

If the disease is severe a crop rotation plan is helpful in correcting the soil. Small grains, corn and alfalfa are all good crops to plant for rotation and cures for these diseases.
Correct watering and disease free seeds are the completion of the requirements for healing the soil and restoring the garden to healthy production.

Many organic websites offer a large volume of treatments for all plant diseases and many of these treatments are made at home using plants from the garden and flower beds as well as household items such as apple cider vinegar, soda, milk and certain oils.

Commercial treatments may require license or certification to purchase chemicals of some diseases. Being prepared to hire assistants if making the decision to use commercial treatments is a consideration for the gardener as this can add to the cost of treatments.

Gardening is fun and a great way to work out the body and raise food. Learning all the many ways to treat the soil and plants is a part of gardening and over time one becomes comfortable when a disease shows up. All disease stems from lack of proper care and treatment of soil and plants. Just as the human body requires proper care our plant world is at one with us in those proper care requirements. Happy gardening and may all your crops be disease free!

Copyright 2013 by Rhonda Madison.