Ahhhh … Finally

To wake one morning finally and have a reasonable workload, deadlines met, and still looming, a job still hunted for … but for today … to know what today requires and know I can accomplish these things.

And have even an hour, amidst the tasks, to enjoy beauty, and the creation of and sharing of where life has taken me and us, unexpected and delightful.

Perhaps the hour really is not mine to claim, but that will only be known later so for now the joy of life relived.

On a week to a conference, prohibited from attending by a lay-pastor full of spite, I relaxed in the mountain views out the door, and the joy of working … for it was too cold to ski Sunshine, a gift from a friend and a life-long love of mine. I never was ever too keen on skiing when the valley temperatures are below -30C. Somehow pain and frost bite just take the joy out of gliding free down across and through the snow on telemarks skis.

So I was inside, though able to see beauty each day.

Bustling Beauty

Bleeping Cold Steam Rising From Frigid Flowing Water

The day we left the conference the temperatures went wildly warm, up to just below zero and then above.

The big snow fall sat on slopes barely intact and the helicopters flew to bomb the snow loose before nature decided to pack it all at once down on top of the valley inhabitants or wanderers. As if back in Fort Ripley with the constant bombing and shelling practice shaking the earth with loud ominous thunder echoing across the clouds invisible.

 

When a day later we headed north to traverse the icefields and dry camp at the new un-serviced Whirlpool campground we knew the road likely would be closed from 11 to 17 for three hours, yes the math is off, for snow bombing (avalanche control).

The previous and falling snow made a quiet wonderland, traversable still, though just deep enough.

We pulled off to breathe, and to take photos, and to marvel.

The trees held the snow, on the steep slopes off the roadway.

To no surprise then the flashing signs at Lake Louise, and the barricade closed at the Saskatchewan River Crossing. The surprise was that at that rather major junction there is a summer only hotel and service station, with fuel and everything else … in even the telephone line to the pay phone is disconnected and dormant for the winter. And that I checked by walking through the deep snow because for miles (okay Canadian Kilometers with a long o J) there is absolutely NOOOO cell service. So we had no updates and no way to notify friends and family that we’d decided to simply wait for the road to open.

Cloud draped Mountains around the Barricade Closed

We tried driving into a trailhead parking lot, but the snow was too deep and the truck simply not high enough nor powerful enough with enough traction to pull through all the snow up to mid axel. It bogged down and I stopped, and shovelled, and shovelled and shovelled and … finally it did not just spin in place but backed out.

Stuck it had serendipitously leveled the trailer to so close to perfect, that considering our options, we just shoveled some more and put the camper right back where it had been stuck, though now with ample area around to walk and service everything needed should we stay overnight and now after 1700 it looked like that was going to be necessary.

Dry, private camping, waiting

And it was. And there was no news even as a few trucks arrived, trying to get to Prince George, unaware of the closed road.

We finally met a park ranger returning from the far side of the barricade. The news was they’d closed the road at 11 ish, and at 12 ish the day before an avalanche had crossed the road. A path was punched through the snow and debris, but the helicopter snow bombers could not fly because of the high winds and the forecast did not make that likely for another few days, Monday at the earliest.

So we settled in not wondering if or when, because by Monday I needed to be home in Cold Lake.

Where the snow had fallen and was melting warmly into the ground, in drops by drops even off the deck railing out my door.

Home Free

And we sort of celebrated Valentine’s Day, early in the mountains and late at home with roses.

Traditions

Now faded in the late stages of colour and life.

Dark and Light

Dark and Light

The light

Is

Visible

Only

In the Dark.

When it is Dark you see the Light clearly –

Only at night can you see the beauty of the dancing northern lights.

Only in the light can you see the love of people you love as so precious.

My wife loves to ski, again,

after years of not being able to.

The bright light

On the cool snow

In the warm air

 

The Lake View After Dark

 

The Lakeview After Dark

Or

When it really does get above freezing in January.

With a view to health we’ve found a quick outing to the quiet wilderness

Is just what the doctor would have ordered.

Years ago we sought out the backcountry with backpacks, sleeping bags and a small tent.

Now that’s a bit more than the old bones can handle, but the wilderness is nearly there,

When one exits the highly traveled areas and revisits what is popular in summer

Yet in Winter become

the deserted places far from civilization, yet accessible by road still,

become

A temporary wilderness

For the season

Just right

For

Recovery

From being controlled and abused and vilified and …

It is a dark sky

It is a beautiful sky

 

It is a beautiful life when one gets to  take this in.

When It Just Keeps Getting Warmer Below Zero

When It Just Keeps Getting Warmer Below Zero

Or

We made it through the superstition of Friday 13th.

The sun is up and the weather report says -7 climbing by mid-afternoon to -3.

Hurrah!

The thermometer says:

Looks like -9 or -10 to me.

But…

That’s just fine and warm with the highs for the next 5 days all out of the minus temperatures!

So the sun rises to light the world golden

And we plan to be outside.

What will you do in this warm wave of winter?

Friday 13th: When -11 is Warm

When minus 11 C is warm

The right to be at peace, not to have people lie about who you are or what you’ve done, to not be at war, to know through and through that God loves you, to have a small plot of land – say 20 square miles, or even 164 acres, or 23.5, or 9.7, or 5.3 … and be able to live in peace, and greet people with a smile, stay warm in the cold, and cool in the heat and fed in the famines, and to drink water clear each day, and to breath fresh air.

For me it is to find the snow crunch cold a delight, and the view on top a mountain that points you in all directions so high, and to turn the wing among the clouds or loop and roll under the popcorn spotted blue sky, or between the crags of the mountains, or to sit beside the rushing river … safe

From the natural power of all that which can kill, most of all the tongue that does not know how to speak from reality because fear has tossed wild emotions and swings into the face of grace and love turning it into a dance to avoid the landmines and explosions and having yet something else taken from one.

To be in peace, to give peace, to meet fears and lies with grace … this is the promise yet to come to be.

For small things, like biking the ice, breathing clear air, basking in the warm sun, contributing to making the world a better place for everyone and carrying a camera to catch the wonders of light playing the broad ivory of ice and snow, quaking beneath to remind one that also this is not truly solid, but for now (post -30) it is sufficiently safe and solid.

 

The wonder is that more would not venture to bask in the warmth.

What is -11 after -30, but warm.

Where is light, after the dark, but across the horizon to the nearest step.

What is

Peace

For

You?

For now home will have to be this and enough.

Until the light of grace guides us home.

It’s a Little Colder Out

It’s a Little Colder Out

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
without extra
measures
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.

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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.

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Another attempt was also ok, if you don’t mind almost ok.

 

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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

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.

 

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These are dedicated to my little sister, who made photography for me a shared joy.
She was always better than she knew.

Copyright Tim Lofstrom 2017

Epiphany in the New Year

Epiphany

This is the day that we remember that

The light breaks in wondrously

In the darkness

That over

Whelm

S

All

That

Is and can be

Until

 

As in 1930 in Savanah Georgia

In the darkness of the Great Depression

As real life shrunk

So small

The lines for soup

Kept millions alive

As

A game of golf provided hope

And a shell shocked Captain Junuh

Was lead into the light

To see the field by a caddy

Baggar Vance

Who for $5

Knew it was not beginning to be embarrassing,

No sir, it’s been for quite some time now

And

Knew that for a purpose

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

To see

Mystically

What

Is

There

But

Others

Cannot

Know

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

is loss.

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

Charged

Ruined

Left as good as dead

In the dark

Alone

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

Through

All

That

Is broken

Spreading against all fears

Especially the imaginary ones of abandonment that haunt

Those

Who attack at all costs to save themselves from imaginary enemies projected onto their scapegoat.

So we remember

The Light

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:

Big Horn Sheep Looking
Big Horn Sheep Looking

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

That

There

Is

Light.

 

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

Within

The

Holy Ones

Saints made by grace from Sinners, yet always both simultaneously.

This we remember

Is

How

God’s

Grace

Is

For

Everyone

Even those

Who ruin

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,

To be Saints and forgive us the Sinners.

Beneath This Sky

Beneath this sky

Warm Sunset

Warm Sunset

One can stand

Or

Move

And take what is

And what is not that ought be

And what definitely ought not to be

And

Join them

Either with force and violence

Even if polite

Quiet

And manipulative

 

OR

Red Oncoming NIght
Red Oncoming NIght

By Grace

With frank words that may relieve the comfortable of their abusive power

And bring comfort to those abused by being relieved of all power

And

Set right what is wrong,

Bring light to what is hidden in darkness,

And bring hope to those daring to expect, and hope, against all the evidence of this world.

Clouds Dance at Their Time
Clouds Dance at Their Time

Here it is quiet

As snow and ice eat all waves

Of water

And sound

And one walks without miracle

On water,

Miraculous that one is still able to walk,

With or without the blessings of holy

Water

And

Being.

And the time to leave

Crawls up on the interloper
As the sun wanes, and is blown down the side of the side to its depths of hours long
Awaiting its rise
As
A
New
Last
Day
Arrives

Wide Sky Cold
Wide Sky Cold

And
Departs once again.

 

I am

Edited, where ‘xxxxxx’ is inserted, to comply with a Court Order

I am.
I am a man.
I am a man who is still standing.
I am a man abused.
xxxxxx
I am a man who was abused first by the church.
That’s not uncommon, but sinfully common.
xxxxx
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.
I am.
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.
xxxxxx

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 …
Fought through,
Survived,
Flourished
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.