Just a day or two ago the forecast used to say it was warming up and then it all shifts just a bit, the jet stream moves further south until the winds come from straight north of the North Pole
where not even Santa
takes a short walk
to cover for the temperature that is supposedly at its lowest at -32 and a wind-chill of -42.
Supposedly because we still have 4 hours until sunrise, and the temperature usually drops as the dark hours wear on and then as the sun rises so glorious to beat back the dark the temperature usually DROPS at least another degree or so.
But this is not usual. And it could easily hit -40 to -45 with a wind-chill of -50 or less, which usually bites a bit,
and is dangerous not to protect oneself correctly against.
The air is crisp clear with a full moon.
At 4:29 I tried to not have to open the deck door to get a shot of the view. Which worked sort of okay.
Another attempt was also ok, if you don’t mind almost ok.
So I stepped out into the Cold
It’s a little colder out, colder than I like being out in in the middle of the o-dark-30 hours of the morning.
The oil will be stiff, the tires square, and without a block heater, the engines will likely not run. I’m not running outside either.
And by Sunday it’s forecast to be -1, Monday plus 3! Will that come to be?
Or is it like promises made that just never are kept?
At 6 am it’s still only -33 with a windchill of -37.
And a short walk and a quick photo reveals that it is tolerably terrific if one puts on a good jacket over aa good sweater, over a good vest, with a good hat, hoodie and jacket hood, all sealed up around the neck to cover it all well, and good gloves and boots. Well the gloves leave a bit to be desired but they allow me to feel the buttons on the camera, soft and pliable deerskin thinsulite gloves.
It’s a Little Cold Out
As I write this the temperature has dropped to minus 27 Celsius and it’s going to continue dropping says the forecast until it’s minus 30.
I did survival training years ago NW of Hinton. We mimicked what it would be like to be downed in an airplane with passengers needing to survive for 36 hours. Tea, the first medicine after the physical injuries were tended to, and then build a shelter for the night. Minus 20 the first night with a partner. Minus 30 the second night, solo. Third night was an all-natural shared shelter for everyone except the instructors, who slept next to a wood stove in a full shelter.
After the last night, of smoke from the shared fire, and little sleep, the thermometer was pegged below minus 40 on my rotary thermometer the next morning a few hours after sunrise.
So yesterday at minus 21, with camera in hand, with a down parka zipped up, a wool hat, simple jeans, warm boots and light enough gloves to feel the camera easily … and a great tripod, I simply enjoyed the ventures out from the warm vehicle to capture these precious photos, a profound beauty and reminder of days before the current hell I’m caught in and working to save others more vulnerable.
It’s not that it was terrific then, it’s just purgatory was decidedly not like this, and despite any temperature, what I’m working to set right, who I’m having to work to keep safe, or at least mitigate permanent damage to, the vulnerable, this kind of hell just does not seem to know beauty or truth or faith or love or hope or … well in a word, this hell has no place for the beauty of grace, the grace that saves us all.
So here they are in the same silence that I encountered them, absolute silence, with only the squeak and press of snow stepped into and upon, and breath … o precious breath that only now I have again … o precious breath that now again I have so that I can speak … well sort of.
Enjoy the beauty: for this cold is not hell, it is simple beauty, without flies or bites, a beauty that permeates everything.
Enjoy the beauty: for this as God created it and us to be; still standing, even through the hell and the cold.
These are dedicated to my little sister, who made photography for me a shared joy. She was always better than she knew.
Each one entered a simple game to surrender to what cannot be forced against a ball and a pin with a club
But like in life one surrenders to what one is called to be and do
Profound or not
For it is what one alone sees
The Light of Grace
Yet there was for so many so little
So little that can be done when all that is
So we remember.
For generations there were always many who suffered at the hands of others looking to move ahead
At the cost of
Those around them …
And who betrayed those closest to them in order to get ahead as their loved one is left vulnerable
Because the beloved could not face the reality of the world that they created out of a profound fear of the light leaving them alone
So they attack
And whip others into a frenzy to attack their loved one for fictitious events
And the loved one is
Left as good as dead
In the dark
Once again paying the price for being the one that loved unconditionally, and loves unconditionally.
So we remember.
Fortunately the darkness will not continue to overwhelm and leave one to die
For this day we remember that the Light breaks in
Spreading against all fears
Especially the imaginary ones of abandonment that haunt
Who attack at all costs to save themselves from imaginary enemies projected onto their scapegoat.
So we remember
Loves unconditionally and inspires
Simple statements of truth:
“The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.”
“Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.”
Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, Brian Kolodiejchuk, 2007
While seeking health and hope and renewal this was possible to capture the light from:
To what do you aspire?
Where are you looking this day?
What hope carries you
Through the darkness
Into the light
That arrives through the cracks of life and being and love itself?
So we remember that
As for me and my household we will serve the Lord,
For by grace alone are we able to stand when we are alone in the darkness waiting for the Light of truth and justice to arrive.
So we remember
Can you remember?
Can you see?
Do you remember the light of unconditional love?
It is Epiphany,
The day we remember
That the Light of Grace, Truth and Love
Illuminates every darkness
From the spark
Saints made by grace from Sinners, yet always both simultaneously.
This we remember
Their loved ones betrayed.
Can you remember this in your darkness?
What makes up your darkness this day of Light?
Whoever you are, the Light shines in the darkness,
So dance a dance of hope.
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Saint Mother Teresa: Something Beautiful For God, Malcolm Muggeridge, 1971
And what is between you and God is not that you need to think, believe, speak, write, do or not all that is right for God,
But that because God has long since done everything right with you,
And made you
A Saint always, even as you remain always a Sinner
And not having to earn God’s unconditional love
What will you do this day? Or any day,
Other than to respond to the greatest news
That the world has or will ever hear
How will you approach each day?
Why other than
To seek justice when it is impossible, for it is already given to you.
To speak truth when it will never be heard, for even before you were born it was heard from your lips, between the cries that wrack your life unpredictably, unwanted, to not be denied.
To offer grace even though the response is cruel, for only by grace are you still standing.
To love unconditionally even though those loved are inseparably exiled from your love, protection and security, for already unconditional love met you and carried you each day past, present and future.
To find joy even though it has been ripped from your heart by jailers and rules, for the Ruler and Jailer has already met you with a joy in you, specifically you, and all that makes up you.
For you have been accepted as you are, equipped as a Saint, a person through which the Light shines.
So Shine even when it is declared that Darkness will not be denied.
Justice, truth, grace, unconditional love, joy, and shining Light:
This is what we are made to be made of.
This is our Game, no matter the goals we take on, this is our Game,
Which cannot be won by other than surrendering to what is,
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.