This Ash Wednesday the Old Testament Lesson from Isaiah 58 read in part :
not this the fast that I choose:
the bonds of injustice,
undo the thongs
of the yoke,
let the oppressed
to break every yoke? 7Is
it not to share
your bread with the hungry,
the homeless poor into your house;
you see the naked,
to cover them,
to hide yourself from your own kin? 8Then
shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing
spring up quickly;
vindicator shall go before you,
of the Lord shall
be your rear guard.”
this I choose for all of my Lent this theme:
is the acceptable fast?
When fish became a common fast, Fridays one gave up other meats to eat only fish. It was indeed a matter of justice. It was designed to help struggling fishers by creating a larger market for their product.
it became a mark of piety, a proud mark of piety, that one could eat
good works become meaninglessly banal and then a perversion of the
is about remembering, and always being creative with purpose driving
So what is it this Lent that we give up, not for the giving up, but that others will have the basics of life!?;
so that the bonds of injustice will be loosened, the yokes will be untied, the oppressed will see freedom, every yoke of slavery and oppression will be broken, no one will hunger, go unclothed, or remain homeless.
Note that this is more than everyone will have shelter sufficient, which is more basic. This is that everyone will have a home. A home means among other things that one has a place marked for one as a unique individual, one has a place one belongs, is cared for, cares for others, and most of all where one can go in the best of times and the worst of times and the doors are open to one.
The light of beauty.
I am homeless, so
I am sensitive to this issue.
By the grace of God and generosity of many different people, I have a home: a borrowed old 18’ camper, attached to a 9.5’x8’ tarp shelter on a trailer in which there is a rebuilt wood stove that provides heat sufficient even at -40°C. It just takes an awful lot of wood.
challenge is I have no where to set up the camper and trailer, so I
am a guest of the Queen on Crown Land, always temporarily.
there are locations where this all works:
Oh and there are many other challenges including connecting the camper and the trailer-shelter, and setting up the arrangement for 14 days at a time. Then I have to tear it all down, pack it up, and move it off Crown land. That’s a lot of work and a lot of money in gasoline to move the trailer and the camper.
It takes at least two days to set up, and a day and a half to tear down, more when it’s colder than -15°C. In the deeper cold it is only possible if I get the wood heat going, and stoke the fire full blast, with doors still open and heat the inside up to 50°C so I have a place to warm up between stints of working outside, and a toasty place to warm up boots and gloves that I switch back and forth.
But it is my home such as it is, and for that I am thankful.
Financially I am hanging on by a thin thread. Though so far though I have not gone hungry, not that my diet has been the best all the time, and my health demands a pretty careful diet.
My situation is a result of others bearing false witness against me, which is injustice, raw and simple and very destructive … and obvious.
I am not yoked, or enslaved, or oppressed as most would understand
those terms. I am not unclothed. (That would bring one to a very
quick end in the Canadian winter.)
And I am alive. Though challenged sometimes close to my capacity to meet the challenge, I live well.
is a statement of resilience and faith, of seeing God at work when
others seem oblivious.
At sunrise, as the wood smoke wafts up through the woods, especially as I start a new load in the furnace before the smoke gets hot enough to burn real cleanly, this reality bears witness to God’s presence, to Christ’s light, to the promise that God is here with me. In the wilderness and cold, in the solitude and quiet God is here as the wood furnace works to help me survive. Wonderfully the stove gives off what is needed for me to see the presence and power of the sunrise light even before it hits the solar panels sufficient to provide electricity to recharge the batteries.
The Light Undoubtedly Breaking In With Blessings
blesses us that we may be blessings to others.
This Lent may our fasts be undertaken, not for us, but to bring to all justice, freedom, clean water and air, food and clothing, homes and meaningful labour, love and, most of all, hope.
There are so many
things in life that remain a mystery.
As the sun rose
after a bright moonlit night I kept working inside and missed the
marvel of the sunrise through the trees.
provides little light above the trees, so even when I was able to
emerge, this caught my eye. I moved easily to get my camera for this
was far to complex a shot than possible with a simple cell camera
which I also did not have on me.
Then as I mounted
the steps to go inside I noticed the light change and with a panic
that only a photographer can know too well, I ran to catch the light
at play before it moved to something, somewhere else.
Back outside the
light returned to play, and these two of the few I took surprised me
I went back to work
after adding them to my desktop slideshow.
This evening they
showed up for the first time, which brought me to decide to postpone
sleep until they are up for others to enjoy.
The challenge is to
find the right composition and play to show what caught my eye.
Here the lines are
strong, though the mystery is less if at all.
Here the mystery
lays fully in the frame.
There was no fog, as
one can tell with a trained eye. This is smoke from the campfire
burning up some junk wood and chainsaw chips, with the temperature
just right that the smoke traversed quite a ways through the trees on
its way to ‘freedom’ in the atmosphere.
Small mysteries include how people can possibly not understand what Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu demonstrated so diligently:
It is very difficult requiring great patience and diligence to throw off oppressive, racists, unjust rulers.
But if one simply replaces them with one’s own version of oppression, racism, and injustice then one actually only takes a step deeper into greater difficulties for which one is then responsible: Getting rid of one’s oppressors becomes a step deeper into oppression, from which one has less likelihood of getting free of, for one has deepened the cycle of revenge … and that can take more than generations to be free of.
Mandela and Tutu demonstrated that FRFEDOM from one’s oppressors only is possible if one finds a way free from being the oppressors first, last and all the way in between, which is so much more difficult than throwing off one’s oppressors!
Another small mystery is how it is that so many people think that their lies which ruin other people, are not seen as lies, and that there are terrible consequences, natural consequences and God wrought consequences for such injustice. Even people entrusted with great authority, or perhaps most of all, people entrusted with great authority seem to be oblivious to their own lie’s baldfaceness, and the unjust consequences to other people far beyond the persons they lie about, and the ruinous consequences to themselves. Lies rot a person from the inside until there is nothing left inside, until one is physically alive, but there is no soul left.
While God punishes people for their sins, or forgives them, But unless one repents (changes 180° the sin) the sinner suffers the sin more than anyone else.
Another small mystery of life is how people can think that doing nothing about lies and injustice are even options for life.
Bringing light to bear upon lies and injustice may seem to be costly, even one’s job, or peace, or reputation … but to do nothing in the face of lies leaves one rotting inside as badly as the liars and perpetrators of injustice.
One can look a far, or not so far, just south of the border, to see how destructive lies and ignoring them, can be. But one ought also to pay attention to what is happening in one’s own town: in the politics, the power plays, the wealth thrown around and cow towed to, the public officials, elected and appointed who are entrusted with maintaining good order and justice. Of course one also needs to start in one’s own family, and with one’s self.
The mystery of life for me has been how so many people whom I’ve met are so unaware of the themselves, as they hammer others down and about to make their way forward and upward through life. It’s as if kindness we completely unknown, honesty never heard of, and fairness and justice concepts that mean whatever gets me ahead at whatever cost.
The profound mystery is how light plays on all these self-deceptions, colouring the world ugly.
Except by Grace the colouring can be also a thing of beauty as one forgives and loves despite the cruelty focused at oneself and at others.
Forgiveness is not always possible: sometimes one needs to leave the judgement to God, and move on, not forgiving and fully remembering the sins, but not condemning. The sinners suffer their sins. God eventually judges them, no spin, no evidence hidden, no witnesses excluded — God knows all with or without evidence and witnesses. And since God exists beyond time the consequences of that judgement begins at one’s birth; thus sinners suffer their sins more than are punished for them.
As an ordained person, responsible and with authority to bring forgiveness to sinners, and also entrusted with the terrible authority to bind sins for God to judge, I have seldom done other than pronounce forgiveness, until the last few years. Now the injustice that I have been the brunt of, which is not limited to just me, but most men abused by women, falsely convicted in our courts … which forces me to estimate that more than 75% of men convicted of a crime against their spouse or partner are truly innocent; so pervasive is this turn. We used to hear that men without a thread of truth could bring their non-compliant wives to jail to be ruined or to mental institutions to be drugged out of their minds for decades. Now the system has changed: and it allows women, without truth, to bring their husbands and partners to jail and mental institutions.
These sins, that make this possible, that invite women to do this, as if this deals with the real abuse of women by men, and clearly ignores the real abuse of men by these women … these sins cannot be forgiven. They are bound for God to judge.
The rest of us need to work to bring light to these injustices, or we rot just like the perpetrators.
The small mystery, or not so small mystery, is why this takes so long for us to bring the light to bear upon such blatant sin?
Those are small to immense mysteries. They are dwarfed by the real mystery.
The real mystery is
This coming Sunday
we read: love your enemies.
How is that even
The answer is simple
and elusively complex.
Just do it!
But the prerequisite
is that one knows two things at least:
That one does not
deserve to be loved by God, not at all.
And that God still
does love you, fully and without reserve or hesitation.
And the third thing
to know is that God calls us to love our enemies as God has loved us.
They may not deserve
it, but we are to love them anyway.
It’s a matter of faith.
Simply possible for
the Holy Spirit through us, since God makes us saints.
It looks like an old photographer with camera in hand, bathrobe bare legs exposed, stepping outside to catch the morning photo(s) for the day.
(I will spare you that selfie … and pretty much all selfies. I’ve never thought much of selfies, being even a reluctant model for myself when I was working with lighting and had no other model to practice on.)
This morning having emerged from the 45°C plus shelter for the wood stove I stepped brashly without a jacket or anything more than my bathrobe to dump the ashes from the fire.
Now that tray, usually a bit toasty, was HOT, so much so that even though I ran (I usually do not) this time it seared through my gloves before I reached the fire pit. It has to be dumped not anywhere since the hot coals that hide in the ash are very alive, passionate red, like some people I’ve known well. As I started to flip the ash tray over the heat hit a nerve and the leprechauns grabbed it out of my hands and threw everything into the snow: hot metal hitting cold snow with sizzles and pops – the tray warped!
Cold has it’s
I grabbed the tray, flipped it to empty it fully, and dashed lively back into the 45°C heat. I did manage to notice the light of the sunrise poking a few holes in the coldscape.
Since I survived that I grabbed my camera, and stepped outside, again.
About the time I caught the first photo I started to feel the deep hard bite of below frostbite warning levels. By the time I made the third photo the bite had eased. Comfortable, and alarmed at how quickly it felt OK, I stretched through the five steps to through the door and thawed my nerves back to yelling painfully alive next to that HOT fire.
Words convey the cold.
But how to say it with a photo?
The best addled thought I had, given the bite I knew was coming, was to contrast the cold with the smoke of the hot fire.
So this shot: Not much there? Looks the same as -3.6°C or even +3.6C.
Yes, that red used to be a deck table leg and support: garbaged, recycled with the cutting wheel of a grinder, and re-purposed to support, minus two legs and the table support arms, a chimney.
Inside my brain started to work again, once thawed. Since the window had cleared of the thick frost present at my wake-up an hour earlier (a nice side benefit of wood heat that it is DRY) I decided the blatant visual was going to have to be the best effort for this early hour. The long end of the needle points halfway between 30 and 40 on the left side, the negative side of zero.
A Little Light, a Little ‘Warmer’ -35°C
The rest of the world that is to be seen from ‘my’ window is as beautiful as always on a clear snow covered winter day. Fresh snow. Solitude.
Things are looking up; it’s warmed up a degree, to -35°C
It’s been an
interesting day, cutting wood in the relative warmth of -15
and being able to
turn off the generator,
warm enough not to
have to worry about warming it up to start it.
So I turned on the
3000W inverter to recharge the computer battery, and it started, then
hiccuped and burbed and popped and smoked a bit.
I pulled the empty
cords out, pulled the solar generator, cut power to the batteries for
the camper, but I do not have a cut off for the battery to the
It just fried
Already done and
stinky electric fire …
Under warranty, but
it took a while to get the replacement.
Home, it was already
dark, and cold at -28°C and getting colder faster than forecast so I
expect -30° will be well met, since it’s already now -29° and
forecast to drop four more degrees before morning, of course the low
was expected to be -28° and it’s already -29°. So -33° maybe?
Here it just dropped to -30°. By morning here -34 or so?
As I was out to start the generator, the moon shone a sliver over the trees, and the smoke from the chimney gave a back stop to the darkness broken by the moon.
?What will come next
Slivers of delight, in small ways, the glory of the solitude, all quiet except the generator going to stay warm and circulate the warm air in here.
Sleep and dream of a world where truth is valued most.