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Looking to the Sky

The skies this time of year amaze me. When going about everyday tasks, I’ll turn around and say, “wow!” Somehow the blue seems bluer and the white seems whiter, and colors we don’t see at other times of the year dance furiously as the sun rises and sets.

Squirrel!

This was just a few hours ago. I got out of my car, saw this, and went back to grab my camera. Just last night I was listening to a lecture which mentioned God guiding the Israelites in the form of a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.

It amazes me how many others don’t ever look up or pause for a moment to enjoy spectacles like this. We just ping-pong from one place to another and rarely lift our eyes. Humanity could benefit from lying on the grass and watching the clouds go by.

It occurred to me that this started to look like an animal…

Is it a reindeer tossing snow with its antlers? We did get a little slushy snow in Seattle this morning. Or…

Is it an elephant? Now it looks like an elephant spraying something with its trunk.

The light coming from behind the tall cloud was blinding. You can see how abysmally dark that tall cloud had become, and somewhere behind it the sun was fighting back, all 27 million degrees in its core fueling the furious blaze.

כא  וַיהוָה הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם יוֹמָם בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן, לַנְחֹתָם הַדֶּרֶךְ, וְלַיְלָה בְּעַמּוּד אֵשׁ, לְהָאִיר

לָהֶם–לָלֶכֶת, יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה.

כב  לֹא-יָמִישׁ עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן, יוֹמָם, וְעַמּוּד הָאֵשׁ, לָיְלָה–לִפְנֵי, הָעָם.

21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; that they might go by day and by night:

22 the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people.

Exodus 13:21-22

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

2021 A.D.

Oh, for more time to blog. 2020 was, in the words of a 9 year-old quoted in the media, like looking both ways before you cross the road and getting hit by a submarine. There were many blessings; for those I am grateful. I also feel like 2020 added on an extra 10 years.

But it’s 2021 now! God is in control and I believe we will see mighty miracles, miracles we’ve waited a lifetime for. To those who pray, keep praying. Even if it seems like your prayers are having no effect, each one is a shock wave sent into the spiritual realm. Deliverance and healing are coming. Soon.

People are still so angry about 2020 that I feel compelled to post a few photos expressing gratitude. Above is one of the murder of crows who waits for me at certain times of day. They know I carry treats.

If you haven’t seen the NOVA special Bird Brain, it’s worth 53 minutes of your time. Corvids are astoundingly smart. They continually crack me up with their politics and personalities.

Okay, so because I couldn’t go grab the tripod before Jupiter and Saturn went beyond the horizon, this (hilariously) is the best photo I got of the Great Conjunction. Here in the Seattle area we experienced the Solstice Storm on the day Jupiter and Saturn were closest– sun, then wind, then torrential rain and flooding, then snow (!). So we didn’t get to see the main event except online. We had to go out and look the next day.

I was very blessed to actually witness these two monster planets so close together before Saturn was obscured by a band of clouds a few minutes later. In this shot, they are aligned with the towers on Queen Anne.

At the same time, Mars could clearly be seen to the left of the moon.

This time of year, I am thrilled to see sunrises like this. An ordinary morning can suddenly light up in a multitude of colors.

Christmas Eve, I was treated to a bonfire under the only clear skies that week. I ran by the store on my way there, and when the cashier asked what I was doing, she said, “I’m going to a bonfire too!” This year we had to get creative with our tiny gatherings, and I hope this becomes an annual tradition. There is something primeval about sitting around a campfire telling old stories and sharing future plans. For thousands of years our ancestors did the same.

The moon was out that night too, gazing down over a horizon of conifers.

So happy new year all! I hope to find more time and energy to post here. There is much value in service yet we can neglect ourselves and our personal interests when our jobs, paid and unpaid, take up the majority of what we have to offer.

In 2021, I want people to feel empowered to be themselves, to know why they’re here, to break free from whatever is holding them back. The world is changing and it’s time for all of us to fully become what our Creator intends for us to be.

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again.

Psalm 71:20

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

The Eyes of the Forest

Ambling along this damp morning, I was stunned to see two beautiful spiderwebs quivering between their anchor trees. This one looked like an extravagant theater curtain slowly being unfurled.

This arachnid architect is sure to catch breakfast, lunch, and dinner in its net. The water clinging to its many strands made this look like a glistening chandelier. But linger longer. The more you stare, the further in you go, its geometry pulling you to the center of the web and beyond.

This second web was above the first and to the left. Looking at it, I felt like I was being looked back at. Yet no one else was around save a distant Steller’s Jay and some Dark-Eyed Juncos.

Rotating the next photo, I realized that, yes, not only was I watching the forest, but the forest was watching me as well.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Luna Y Marte

Here in the Northwest, we don’t yet know if our intermittent clouds will allow us to see Mars’ closest approach to our planet for the next 15 years. This occurs before sunrise on October 6th, 2020. Mars has been blazing in the night sky and will continue to do so for weeks, but Tuesday is when the red planet and our home marble meet to shake hands.

It is difficult to find clear patches of night sky without light pollution so I have learned to embrace the trees. If you’re not near trees, you’re probably near a building or city.

There was nothing else shining near the moon and Mars at this time on this night, making this all the more dramatic. Since the weather may or may not cooperate Tuesday, I figured I’d snap some photos in the absence of clouds.

This last photo deserved some FX. Mars was far bigger and brighter than it appears here. Tuesday it will be a mere 38.6 million miles away. Be sure to look up on October 13th, 2020 as well, when Mars is at opposition to the sun.

The planet Mars — crimson and bright, filling our telescopes with vague intimations of almost-familiar landforms– has long formed a celestial tabula rasa on which we have inscribed our planeto-logical theories, utopian fantasies, and fears of alien invasion or ecological ruin.

David Grinspoon

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Smoke On The Water

Driving home from a friend’s house late the weekend before, I had to stop to get photos of a toasted cheddar moon and blazing red telluric Mars just above it. Little did I know that, courtesy of the fires raging in Washington, Oregon, and California, we soon wouldn’t be able to see the sky for a week or more.

The smoke began to funnel northward through the I5 corridor late in the week. At first it looked like fog. Then, on Saturday, September 12th, 2020, we woke up on an alien planet. It looked like Mars outside– yellow, hazy, dark, and foreboding.

This is the Edmonds ferry dock at Brackett’s Landing. The whole world looked like pea soup. You could barely see the ferry that had just left.

The ferry loomed like a ghost ship and was then sucked into a void. Normally you see an opposite shore. Today, there was nothing, just the edge of the world.

I zoomed in as the ferry plowed westward, but at best it seemed like an apparition in a sandstorm.

These photos have not been edited at all. This is how the beach actually looked that Saturday. You can see scuba divers coming in. I found it odd that people were still out diving, but does hazardous air quality affect visibility in the water enough for them to care?

Even the plants’ colors seemed off. Everything was saturated in this weird, otherworldly glow, like we had survived some nuclear horror and were slowly crawling out of our shelters afterwards.

As I snapped the photo of the famous orca, I mused how it appeared to be swimming in pollution. Then it hit me– how similar this is to the disgusting pollution our resident orcas live in. This is what we do to their world. This is a constant for them. Because we so callously pollute the water, each local orca could be considered a floating superfund site.

We used to rejoice when their babies were born. Now we just pray they survive the lack of traditional food sources and the industrial waste. They often don’t, and humanity goes on complaining about lack of entertainment during COVID, or rioting, or obsessing over the latest cosmetics, ignoring their cries.

I have stood here many times, but I’d never seen it look so foreign.

All day, no matter where I went in two counties, I noted an absence of birds. Far fewer birds than normal braved the rancid, tar-filled air. This crow and his seagull buddy foraged along the beach in tandem with few others in sight.

Yep. It was definitely Smoke Time.

Arriving at the north end of Lake Washington, this panorama seemed straight out of a sci fi movie. We were supposed to have temperatures nearing 80 degrees with near full sun, but last time I’d checked the temperature it was 58.

Walking out on the dock felt like walking out to the edge of a flat earth. You usually see land on all sides. Seattle, however, had disappeared. The middle of this scene had simply vanished. There was smoke, and then there was nothing.

Gazing down into the lake’s milfoil mass, I imagined one of those menacing merpeople from Harry Potter reaching up and grabbing me. No thanks.

These logs, although fixed, appeared to be swimming away from the yawing nothingness in the middle of the lake.

A gaggle of geese bobbed around like nothing was happening, the lighting exactly like the filters used to portray Mexico City in the movies. Ever notice that, that Mexico City always shows up in hazy brown or sepia tones on the big screen?

These old pilings looked like a pathway into another place or time.

Zooming in, no birds roosted here today. None flew through the air either. Aside from traffic noise, there was an eerie stillness.

One rebel Canada goose floated leisurely through the soup apart from the others.

As I was chatting with a local, we looked up and said, “what’s that?” It was the first time we’d seen the sun in a couple of days. It was a grapefruit-hued pinhole in the sky, barely piercing the blanketed glop of destruction.

The sun’s reflection in the water was just as bizarre.

At times there was a blush or rose color playing upon the undulating mocha of the lake.

While forecasters had originally said the smoke would start moving out earlier this week, that didn’t happen. The Seattle area was enveloped in a dense yellow fog again this morning… except it wasn’t fog. By afternoon we saw a bit of sunlight, prompting me to go to Juanita Beach in Kirkland to see what I could see.

Sure enough, there was the sun, sparkling down upon the latte-like lake. Yet it seemed to be a sun from John Carter, Pelelandra, or Tatooine.

The ducks were happy enough. But there were still no birds in the air.

It seemed like dusk, not afternoon.

Beyond the boardwalk there was just a fisherman and faux fog. No Seattle. No 520 bridge. Just empty space, because the west is on fire and we continue to pray for rain when there otherwise would have been summer through the end of September.

Smoke veils the air like souls in drifting suspension, declining the war’s insistence everyone move on.

Jayne Anne Phillips

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Part 6: Church Security

How does your church respond to domestic violence– and are they prepared for when it affects the congregation and church property?

Christian Coalition for Safe Families

Photo by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash

In February we began a series of articles regarding What The Church Can Do. In Part 1, we defined domestic violence. Part 2 advised churches to start by believing when they learn of abuse. Part 3 contained pointers on communicating with victims, and Part 4 discussed how churches can network with advocates and authorities so they are able to respond to domestic violence efficiently. In Part 5, we touched on training your staff and volunteers plus having a list of resources available that you can safely give to victims.

That’s where most advice to churches stops when it comes to this scourge that affects a significant part of your congregation. We want churches to understand what domestic violence is and who to go to, but it’s still commonly treated like a private matter between the victim, suspect, and maybe a church…

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Part 5 in the What the Church Can Do series has been published. Find out more about what your church can do to respond to domestic violence.

Christian Coalition for Safe Families

Photo by Andrew Pons on Unsplash

In Part 5 of our What the Church Can Do series we will tie together some concepts presented in previous articles to ensure that your church is ready to act when you hear of domestic violence. It is important to ensure that your staff is trained to respond and has appropriate resources at the ready. Without some basic training and preparedness, critical opportunities to help victims can be missed. Lives can be shattered and lost.

Many churches require their staff and volunteers to complete CPR and first aid training. Some mandate child protection training, some have their ushers and greeters meet certain standards before they can serve. But only a few invite a local domestic violence advocacy agency or law enforcement officials to speak at their meetings or training sessions, and even fewer do this regularly. Ironically, given that one in five American families…

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Continuing to Matter

The memorial to the fallen Bothell police officer continued to grow last week. Department employees and volunteers kept a watchful eye on it, removing spent flowers and pulling certain pieces to share with the officer’s family as more tributes arrived. Signs around the community show their support as well. The Yakima Fruit Market, espresso stands, Brooks Biddle, and grocery stores among others are boldly proclaiming their appreciation.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Last night a visit to the growing memorial to the Bothell police officer who was murdered resulted in the post You Matter. I visited the site again tonight and spent some quality time with both strangers and friends as we honored this brave man. The memorial continues to grow. People of all types continue to gather there to express appreciation to our area officers, including the officer who was wounded in this incident.

The world needs to see that the Northshore area respects, appreciates, and values the men and women who take great risks every day to keep the peace in our increasingly restless society.

Shortly after I arrived, the woman on the left burst into a beautiful operatic rendition of The Lord’s Prayer. It was another spontaneous moment that hushed onlookers and bowed reverent heads.

See her arms raised as she lifts her voice towards heaven…

A question has been asked at this site repeatedly: what can we do to show support like this on a regular basis? How do we ensure that they always feel that the majority is behind them?

Bothell’s chaplains are doing an amazing job. The support surrounding agencies are offering Bothell PD is phenomenal.

Note Matthew 5:9, above: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.


Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.

C.S. Lewis

The details of Officer Shoop’s murder are here. The circumstances of his death are horrifying. May peace blanket this agency and community.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

You Matter

This morning the greater Seattle area woke up to learn that a Bothell police officer was killed in the line of duty and another was injured. No, no, no, no, no. There has been widespread animosity towards police in our nation lately and this is exactly what we didn’t want to happen.

Like many of us, I have friends and family in the profession. Officers face dangers and split second decisions that most of us never will. It sounds like a traffic stop turned deadly, leaving a family broken and grieving for the loss of a young man of solid character– who was also a veteran.

LEOs, I want you to see the outpouring of support for this officer and his department. At Bothell City Hall tonight, people of all creeds and colors poured in to leave flowers, signs, write messages in chalk on the pavement, cry, talk, and express their gratitude to Bothell PD. I was there for quite a while and adults and children came from all directions to show their support.

This coming together, this show of strength and unity, is being posted here to show you that in your town, you matter. Never mind the hate and the calls to strip your funding, we are still with you and you matter.

I noted that the candle here is called “Seeking Balance.”

This deputy came all the way from Whatcom County. He was graciously stopping to talk to kids and give them badges.

This was a remarkable moment. I was standing near Bothell’s PIO when I saw this man walk up and introduce himself. Captain Johnson thanked him for his service. The man explained that he had put on his uniform and driven to the memorial to play Amazing Grace. That he did. Then he quietly left.

Unbeknownst to the performer, a man sitting behind him on the stairs raised his hands in prayer as the song was played.

I left about 6 P.M. Just as many people were silently walking up to the memorial from all corners and leaving mementos as when I’d arrived. It’s the hottest day we’ve had this year so far and few seemed to notice. They stood, they sat, they hugged, from babies to wizened seniors. It was an astounding show of gratitude.

Out at the corner of 522 and 527, close to where the incident happened, a crowd of Blue Lives Matter supporters were demonstrating. Many, many drivers honked their horns as they went past.

The woman waving this flag is a retired deputy who has a child entering the profession. While she had a successful career and fully supports law enforcement, she expressed concerns about those following in her footsteps given the increasing dangers officers face.

Nowhere were those dangers more apparent than in downtown Bothell, Washington the night of July 13th, 2020.


Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, and who is neither tarnished nor afraid.

Raymond Chandler

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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