Edited, where ‘xxxxxx’ is inserted, to comply with a Court Order
I am a man.
I am a man who is still standing.
I am a man abused.
I am a man who was abused first by the church.
That’s not uncommon, but sinfully common.
I am a man who is still standing, but standing in the face of what has been done to me, I am standing only by the Grace of God.
I am a man.
Last night we sat and watched Antwone Fischer, the movie, by Antwone Fischer, a true story about living with abuse as a man.
It was painful to watch, and see another man survive, be given opportunity to tell his story, and to work to heal.
This is not offered and possible for many men xxxxxx.
Perhaps it is more palatable for our culture to see a man deal with abuse suffered as a child, to watch him adapt, survive, grow and flourish as he comes into adulthood, with his whole adult life ahead of him.
It’s pretty painful no matter how you cut it,
Painful to know if we switch just the genders around in true stories of men xxxxxx, the outcry of shock and dismay is almost without limit; but when the story is told with the genders as they are, xxxxxx, there is no outcry, just a concerted effort to make the man pay, with his honor, xxxxxx, with everything that can be taken from him.
And he is fair game for any lie that can be told, any attack that can be posted to social media.
Tonight we sat and watched Antwon Fischer, by Antwon Fischer, a true story about living with abuse as a man.
And I cried to know that someone else suffered …
And found someone who would believe him
Someone who kept him from being destroyed. For all the men who are still standing: May the Blessings of Christmas (Of unconditional love, of scapegoating ended, of the promise of wholeness) and May the Promise of the New Year (of prosperity, truth, justice, grace, and hope) Be yours.
We wait, taking in the celebration of light, looking through the lens of Grace that Jesus makes clear, hoping that this time, especially this time, God will come to us and set things right, before there is no more time to set things right,
That truth will be heard, the lies uncovered, life reset before the twilight zone came to visit my world.
But the world always resists Grace, since Grace comforts those disadvantaged, and disadvantages the comfortable.
There are things to see.
There are things to say.
There are truths which are being played with, and in the end the next generation learns that the lies are better than the truth.
It is like photography, everything is simple, even beautiful: until you realize something is being sacrificed: something precious; something basic and fundamental; something that seems …
Something so fundamental that there is nothing left if this is sacrificed.
We visited the mountains, to help me recover from acute bronchitis that just would not go away.
In the parking lot, a brand new camper compared to the ancient one we were using, having to fix it so it did not kill us.
There is something refreshing about breathing the mountain air.
But when it’s full of CO it puts a throbbing headache in the way and had I not opened the door so often that night ….
So this seemed a better option but not possible for us.
There were beautiful things,
beautiful light and snow on pine trees and clouds,
if you raised your head, which is always really hard to avoid.
On the way I caught the fog, again and again, and coming out of the fog is marvelous, for photographers, because the light … the light plays with reality to make it seem different, special.
It’s not always special; sometimes it’s just ordinary.
And then the sunlight hits the fog while the road flies by.
But then … then
It hits you.
And there are lots of shots that show its beauty that just hit you.
As you stop the light hits the trees.
And all that can be played with making it even more …
It looks great, even if it is not real.
But the picnic table is real.
Simple real in the early, early morning hours just as light starts to peak around the mountain air.
And Pyramid Mountain never looked so good, as the camera pushes through the darkness and the software reveals what the human eye could barely see.
And the software can make it look more than surreal, more than a cloudy mountain top with pines and fog, but how can more be really more when the reality is quite enough plus some?
Even if you have to wait a few hours for the sun to shine clear amid the clouds and shadows of late afternoon.
Simple skiing, now that’s real with the real mountains and clouds and snow laden pine trees … and the clear mountain air healing the bronchitis.
And that makes the waiting of Advent a waiting for truth, the truth God revealed on Christmas.
John the Baptist knew crazy but he never knew crazy, not crazy like I’ve had to suffer since ….
Snow by the Athabasca
Waking at the fresh hour of 9 the light snow falls everywhere around dampening the sounds, covering the views and clearing the mind … and making the photography some of my favorite: not cold at -2, not too wet, and diffused, specular light everywhere!
Quite often in life, how you orient yourself determines what you see, how you perceive it, and what you can do with it.
The same path, with a different perspective, is … enticing.
See the world as God’s invitation to engage and enjoy and provide care and beauty to others, all others.
And sometimes, taking a better view of the same thing produces a whole new understanding, and perspective.
Early Morning Mountains
Kathie needed something besides the ground to sleep on so she found this for a weekend to the mountains.
On the way it became obvious that a sway bar hitch was needed. As the roads became skating rinks at Hinton, traffic slowing to a crawl behind a smart semi driver, more than one slide and slip gave proof that this hitch more than paid for itself: without it we would have seen the ditch spinning out of control.
The unit had all sides, but the fantastic piece is this time of year the campground is deserted for the most part, and even after all the delays, we arrived, the third vehicle only in the campground. It’s mountain air, fresh, cool and quiet, next to a flowing river.
And me, the put it on your back or leave it behind, suddenly had on my back, well the back of my truck, a camper, not mine, to provide electricity, and warmth and comfort needed at these advanced years. And the freedom, freedom relative to the shakes, fatigue, weight loss, insomnia, and fear of the previous years … well the comparison is like night and day; death and life.
It took an awful lot of hard work to get this borrowed trailer ready for the trip, for use after being in moth balls for the last three years plus.
But here it is: all comfortable and well, pristine air in no short supply. And in the morning light, the views as always prove renewing. That’s something I’ve needed after the last 3 years. That was a darkside.
This post was delayed, due to to a memory error. I’d tell you about it but I’ve forgotten what it was, something to do with WP Memory Limit.
Yesterday, driving in the early morning heavy fog, the sun started to poke through just ever so slightly and this flew by.
I stopped, pressed for time or not, to catch the light.
Can you catch light, really? Waves or particles, with bare hands, and hold it tight to own it?
Never, but one can take the light of the world through the yuck of crude meanness and, as Leonard Cohen taught me to say, celebrate the light that gets in just because of the cracks. Actually Chet Hoversten taught me to say it, in more Lutheran theological language, which has served me all my life: the Grace of God is not earned, but enters our lives, in spite of and just because we are broken people, and this Grace and favour given as a free gift, never earned, not even for believing the right things, transforms our lives, sets us free, establishes that God is for us no matter what, and then this Grace allows us to surrender and ask: so with this absolute freedom, given by none other than God, what am I going to do (what are we going to do) with this … this freedom, this life, this Grace, this unconditional forgiveness:
Are we going to try to control it and foist it on others: That is to create our own hell out of it, just saying.
Are we going to try to codify it and foist it on ourselves and others: That is to create our own hell out of it, just saying.
Are we, am I, going to simply ask each morning and each moment, how can I extend this Grace unmerited to as many people as possible this day, this moment?
Photography is easier, and more difficult: you can capture the light, and then share it. And as many know the worst weather often creates light that is the most spectacular, by being specular, and it makes possible some great photography.
Now, I was running hard, and just had fun, so this is not the BEST photography, it’s just fun, to be enjoyed:
The fourth and final … and I had to jump out of the freezing, fingers throbbing cold, without even time to put everything back in the cases and move on, hoping there’d be another take for the light. But within a few km the sun broke clear through from 2 hours in the sky and all that was left was to make the next deadline.
And later that night, falling asleep in my chair more than once I put the exposure bracketed files together with HDR and tweeked. So this is light and software and playing around with reality.
Not suggested to be done with God’s light in our lives. It already had endless exposures bracketed for us to see, and assembly by software or however is simply not helpful, nor needed to notice the awesome, amazing Grace …
For each of us.
This second entry then is simple: these things I have helped to create, with labour and love, to help make my wife’s townhouse a place of beauty.
These are views of what is precious and dear, and to be optimized for function and effect, to become beautiful in design, economy of resources, elegant in its use, and wondrous in the juxtaposition of the required and the hoped for, the vertical and the horizontal playing to their fullest and the stunning emotional effect of good craftsmanship applied to wondrous materials.
If you are our friends or trusted acquaintance you will be invited to enjoy this space, these sounds, this light, this air, this efficient and effective use of humble and limited space.
This is made as a tour for Kathie’s mother, now in an assisted living apartment, not easily able to get out. She may yet make a visit, but for now you get to share in her virtual visit.
And of course it is made for our family and friends who have not yet visited and may not be able. We do not have world-wide contacts like our internet savvy and active sons; but quite a few of our friends will not likely ever set foot in Kathie’s townhouse.
So we begin:
At the entry
Moving inside the door on the new tile floor.
Stepping left to the half bath.
And a peak up the stairs, a farewell gift, Luke Rafin’s print.
Further up the stairs to the corkboards for unframed photos.
A close up of one pinned photo from Yellowstone National Park.
The garage, with new shelves and insulated to allow winter work in warmth. – The new shelves over the old freezer.
The side shelves and one bike hung, with Kathie’s tools well organized.
The kitchen, a new stove vent that vents into the garage to keep it heated in the winter.
The new kitchen floor, antique and bluish wood look linoleum laminated click flooring.
The corner with transitions and the tile baseboards.
The living room with Kathie’s sound system that allows one to feel the orchestra, or heavy rock or whatever the boys listen to when we are not anywhere around.
Set on a shelf built especially designed to house it and the old TV.
An orchid by the African mask.
One of my older sunset photos.
The stair pantry that makes use of otherwise lost space, accommodating the relatively smaller kitchen compared to the home I had built us, with enough space to allow gluten free baking items to be stored completely separate from others.
Further down looking up to all the storage gained on the walls of the stairwell. Not fancy but thoroughly practical, and within easy reach, for the table leaf and the gate for when the small dog comes to stay for a few days.
Dorothy’s paper tolling going further down the stairs.
The new shelves in the laundry room, for supplies …
And for sorting laundry.
And more storage.
The boys’ area in the basement, where friends come to visit and play and watch and listen and discuss.
Upstairs Kathie’s computer desk and work space, with vertical set of shelves, and a side shelf for her printer and filing cabinet to behind her dresser.
The shelves and photos on the walls.
One more, one of Kathe’s many favourites, an old pantry and a view out the window to the white of winter.
And an old shed.
Kathie’s closet with double rods, long clothes space.
And shelving …
And shelving around at the ceiling.
The deck from the kitchen.
Some of the new area more than three times the original, one new planter, and fencing replaced with the neighbours helping this past summer.
The new deck, step, one planter, and new fencing in the other direction.
The old space with the old BBQ and one of three planters for vegetables and flowers.
The two sheds that miraculously changed places one afternoon, after the fence behind the larger one was painted. (Miracles sometimes require an awful lot of work from human hands. But Kathie thinks its just ordinary for the sheds to fly to a new location. J )
The second planter on the old area, the table on the new.
The deck table, the last view until one comes to help mow, or weed or plant or enjoy the sitting.
The tour can only be better with more photos, perhaps some day added. Or by making an appearance in person. Teleporter terminals are not installed so plan on hours and days and weeks to get here, depending on which quadrant you’re reading this in.
There is little that marvels anyone anymore, and much that blows the socks off anyone who is willing to notice.
Life is …
Life is a complex series of time, space, particularity and inspiration.
Life is the most despairing series of events anyone can witness or experience.
Life is the most awe inspiring series of events that anyone can witness or experience.
Others determine so much of life, yet 90% of life is determined by our responses to what happens to us, and what others do to us, good and bad, and both good and bad simultaneous.
If you have never experienced that you are like the pastors who reported that their congregation had no alcoholics among the members, had not … and you can fill in the blank.
The truth is their congregation had its fair share, some said 1 in 10, but the pastor was too ignorant and proud to know the truth.
Ignorance does not determine that something is true. Perception by ignorant masses, small or great masses, does not create reality; it creates a falsehood built out of ignorance; and that is something to be feared more than fear itself.
Life in the face of all this is simple. Not simple on this side of complexity, but simpler on the far side of complexity. What is simple is that beauty is a given, and an option to participate in … or not. Just as Grace, Amazing Grace, is a given, and an option to participate in … or not. I consciously have chosen again and again to embrace beauty, grace, and Life as I trust it was given to be lived.
Beauty comes washing over us in so many forms, visual, in the dance of light and shadow, colour and surprise, drawing in, renewing of value, and a sending out to embrace the world, and therein to permeate others and situations with … with the essence of life: grace.
Dance the light, dance through the darkest valley of death that grips us all in the vice of fear and denial, dance in the detail and the relationships between waves and particles, between inanimate and animated, between the found and the created.
Beauty is also what one makes of space. My travels from North America to Europe, mostly Germany, and my childhood in Tanganyika, have left me desiring space abundant and a knowledge that space is often limited, precious and to be optimized for function and effect, to become beautiful in design, economy of resources, elegant in its use, and wondrous in the juxtaposition of the required and the hoped for, the vertical and the horizontal playing to their fullest and the stunning emotional effect of good craftsmanship applied to wondrous materials.
This first entry is a simple view to what and how I see my surroundings.
Simple homes in a simple neighbourhood, development at a standstill by the oil bust.
The view from up close to out there.
The quiet simple calm that comes between ferocious tempests.
This is my view … yet so much cannot be published.