Who are we?

Who are we?
Who are we if we have not learned with all those who have gone before us?
Our lives are not fully lived if we are not willing to die for those we love and for what we believe.
Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma AL.

Can we find our way home?

Who are we if we are not willing to die for our children?

Who are we if we are not willing to protest, non-violently, against injustice?

Who are we if we turn a blind eye to the injustice that separates those of one color or heritage from another?

Who are we if we ignore our sisters and brothers and those who identify with neither of those gender designations, as there is only one certainty, and that certainty is that justice will not be available equally to all?

Who are we if we ignore who ends up on the streets? Who cannot find work? Who fills the jails?

And who gets to travel? Who frets about what can be taken away from them? Who has nothing to fret about, except where food and shelter from the cold will come from this winter?

Can you see in the darkness?

Can you see beauty even when there is no future to see?

Who are we?

And who are you?

Who am I?

Can we see the water for the weeds? The ice for the snow?

Will we find the safe path through what is before us?

Are you, are we, am I able to love your/our/my enemy as your/our/my neighbor as your/our/myself?

If you/we/I are/am unable to love unconditionally, even the enemy, then who are/am you/we/I anyway?

As for me and my household, since I am only one, I will serve the Lord,
and if that means I will die, then I will die for those I love and what I believe.

There is little sunshine among the treacherous cold rough waters ahead.

But I believe justice needs to be equal for all.

I believe by grace alone we all still stand

as long as we can still stand.

Morning Seeing Dimly

Morning Seeing Dimly
Morning on the Lake with hardly a clue where the rest of the world is.

 

 

 

The view from the door, promising a wonderful photographic morning

 

 

 

 

The ‘home’ birch.

 

 

Wiffs and Waffs.

 

 

 

 

A small hint of something out there.

 

 

 

 

The sun begins to give a clue it exists.

 

 

 

Is that blue sky there?

 

 

 

The sun is there.
 

Or is it there?

 

 

 

 

 

Or there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trees start to appear.

 

 

 

Ducks flying into the fog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A birch wood of years gone by.
 

Birch and Reeds with Nuttin’ Else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The point out the door, after the return, and the fog is lifted – ing.

 

 

 

There will always come a time when we will see clearly, as the light shines

and the truth will be known and the truth will makes us free.

Morning Mists and Mystics

Morning Mist and Mystics
The wonders of pristine nature are fodder for a photographer, and in that there are rare and not so rare events that a photographer salivates in anticipation of encountering. We go to great ends to create our best chances of encountering light, special light in special places.
One of those is to find fog in the early sunrise light draped across our landscape.
This morning I woke a good hour plus before sunrise and prepped well for a morning outing in the canoe. As I stepped out the door to see the lake not 20 feet distant flowing with fog in the dawning light I gave up on the physical benefits of an early strenuous paddle about the lake and prepped tripod and camera, first shooting from land and then (of course without the tripod) from the canoe.
Wonders appeared and unfolded for a few seconds before melting away as something else emerged to exist only fleetingly. And that is a favoured series of circumstance to encounter, possible only by dedication, planning, preparation and persistence, hoping and wishing … and good luck.

This the mystic knows well and in truth: the infinite can be encountered like light particles waving at you in the fog. You know what you’ve seen and it makes the world a marvelous work of creation, touched and blessed by our creator and made visible, with dedication, planning, preparation and persistence, hoping and wishing … and good luck. Profound truth is never easily discovered, but only by wading through the labyrinths of confusion, betrayal and misdirection can one see and know truth, the truth of the infinite. And that truth is simple not simplistic, profound not faked, graceful not vengeful, creative not destructive or dismissive.

This was the misty view out the front door.

 

 

The view from the boat launch site.

 

 

Looking down, clear as a bell.

 

 

Reeds reflected.

 

 

The point of it all.

 

 

Reflection Induction

 

 

White birch over and under the fog.

 

 

Or standing the tall way.

 

The vehicle that took me to the sunrise and the sundogs in summer.

 

 

Back Behind

 

 

Sundogs in full force.

 

 

A few ripples.
 

 

The birch of another campsite on the shore.

 

 

The kitchen sink on wheels against the birch long standing yet pretty young.

Out of these mists rose the mystics of many makes, all connecting through the fog of our limited perceptions to the light still bright on the other side.

This mysticism of Grace gives life to all who encounter it, and guides one to give life to all others.

There is no room in these misty mystical moments or at any time for anything other than forgiveness of the other, and of oneself fully forgiven already.

Sanctuary

Sanctuary
How can I keep from singing?

 

 

 

From there we retreated to our own little sanctuary in the middle of the sanctuary, watching out of the window as the light gave way to darkness.

The promise of all truth and Grace is that the sun will rise; what is done in darkness will be exposed by the light to be known for what it is.
On this promise, generations have lived Grace, beaten at every turn but still standing by Grace alone, yet forgiving and trusting that truth will be known. Truth will be known. Truth will come into the light and expose the death of life that has hidden in the darkness.
As sure as the sunrise, the light will come.
This promise provides sanctuary from the onslaught and attacks relentless.
This promise provides sanctuary from false words that rob life from all met by them, and with that grows hope; and that is a hope that no darkness can destroy.

With that hope, no matter the attack, how can I keep from singing?!

 

Beaver Block

Beaver Block
Tonight after supper we headed out for a canoe paddle, exploring the outlet to the lake.
A beaver has dammed up the outlet, thus the ever higher water levels.

The calm beaver ponds were ringed with flowers purple, lush green reeds, and pussy willows.

The dam showed signs that the beaver are of course building higher and higher to contain the water, anxious as they become at the sound of flowing water, thus the ever rising level of the lake, inch by inch higher with each substantial rainfall.
Signs of grace and beauty that one can only explore in a canoe.

Bright Light after the Storm

Bright Light after the Storm

Sitting, relaxing, having sat at the fire roasting sausages to compliment the fresh corn on the cob, invited the neighbours for roasted marshmallows, canoed across the lake against the wind and back without any wind – yes the wind died out exactly as we reached the far shore! –and, as dusk took hold and the clouds darkened, retreated into the camper,

so sitting, relaxing, reading and writing until

the skies shook, the trees quaked and swayed and the camper rocked in the wind that hit hard …

so we set the awning low, pulled in the chairs, set the red hot coals and logs apart in the fire ring, and set the generator under cover safe from the

pouring bullets of rain that pounded everything.

And then, secured we shut everything down, except the one battery lantern, and crawled tired and satisfied into bed to sleep …

And at that moment the rain stopped hammering and the wind rustled the leaves gently and we slept soundly though to the break of dawn

To rise to the fresh wind, the bright light and the clean air

– Cleaned of the smoke from the BC wildfires that set in like haze over the past few days to dull the light –

With a view spectacular out the door of our shelter from the elements.

Lit Birch on Blue Water

The Ring for Fire, Damp, against the bright morning light on Birch on the Shore

 

The basic necessities of life well provided by Grace alone:

Air, clean water, food sufficient, clothing appropriate – mosquitoes being the greatest challenge – , shelter from the weather and from threats to one’s person by four legged and two legged animals, meaningful labour – though the pay is paltry – , and love – both to be loved and to love another with full trust that one will not be betrayed with blatant lies but indeed supported to be the best one can be and that one’s beloved will receive support and encouragement even inspiration to be the best she/he can be.

And still the abuser and bullies are free without constraint … and in response to them I say simply: by Grace alone I am not only still standing, I am flourishing, able to be grateful for Grace which gives me and mine breath, and not only breath but ability to be in the beauty of this marvelous universe.

Best Response

Best Response

There are innumerable accounts in written history and in literature (reflecting the truths of life throughout history) … accounts of abuse and bullying ruining lives.

The accounts cover the gamut from horrors of war, to abuse between identifiable groups as often as not closely related to each other, to religious based hatred gone amok, to scapegoating of all kinds including systemic lies created and augmented against an innocent and even admirable person … lies that ruin the innocent in order to allow the larger group experience some cathartic release of dissonance created by their own internal conflict which is too expensive for them to honestly recognize and deal with (see Girard), to conflict between intimate partners where one, often a high functioning borderline personality which is able to charm others to believing the most horrific lies about their partner bringing the innocent and admirable partner to ruin for actions and despicable behaviours that actually belong to the person with borderline personality.

While our (my family and I, and many others including my ex) faith is Lutheran Christian, a particular faith based on mystics’ and sacramental (mundane made holy by God’s Grace alone) theologians through countless generations, and while our Canadian society now identifies bullying as an unacceptable behaviour and focuses on children, youth and young adults, we are doing very little to name, address and eradicate bullying by adults of adults. And we have not ‘cracked that nut’ because our leaders who could call us to account more likely as not have built their careers on bullying others in order to get ahead, to gain the power that they exercise.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying “Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict.[1] Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets. Rationalizations of such behavior sometimes include differences of social class, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, behavior, body language, personality, reputation, lineage, strength, size, or ability.[2][3] If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing.[4]”

Between intimate partners bullying takes on a very personal, psychological devastation of the victim as the very relationship that ought to be based on unfettered trust and ought to provide unconditional love, while the victim engages in the relationship to provide all of that for the abuser (often as not unrecognized as the abuser by the victim until it is too late), the abuser exercises all sorts of control, projects her own failures on to her victim and makes unreal demands of behaviour of the victim who soon enough recognizes the extreme costs to not complying … the costs are devastating loss, often loss of children, financial security, home, and reputation … and in the end always the loss of one’s own life.

See http://www.humanservices.alberta.ca/documents/PFVB1100-men-abused-by-women-booklet.pdf, http://www.humanservices.alberta.ca/documents/PFVB1401_men-abused-by-women.pdf, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/domestic-violence-against-men/art-20045149, and https://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/women-abuse-men-often-called-abuse-fiff/:

“The ease with which the genders in the piece can be reversed shows that abusive relationships are about power and control, not specifically male or female behavior, and that women use the same power levers, as well as some of their own (such as withholding affection or sex) to dominate their victims. Additionally, in “genderizing” abuse as a primarily male behavior, we minimize and, in a way, legitimize, women’s abusive behavior.”

So we focus on bullying by children, youth and young adults, projecting our own abhorrent behaviours on them in order to exorcise our own cognitive dissonance about our own behaviours that have netted us our privileges and power. And we focus on abuse by men of women, fully denying the devastation caused by women abusing men, women who are more often than not dominant passive aggressive manipulative controllers who exercise demeaning control over their males partners that way too often leads to suicide as the only escape. For the foundational work on surviving the devastating effects of a loved one with borderline personality disorders see STOP WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason, Randi Kreger, and the companion THE STOP WALKING ON EGGSHELLS WORKBOOK, Practical Strategies for Living with Someone Who Has Borderline Personality Disorder.

While our faith calls us to recognize that each person is simultaneously a sinner (dammed mess of a human) and a saint (a perfect example of God’s grace embodied in a human – but not by merit of the person, only by the Grace of God transforming that sinner into a saint), and as recipients of Grace that makes us able and deserving (by grace alone) to even breath air yet alone enjoy the privileges of life Jesus Christ calls us imperfect yet perfect humans to exercise that same grace toward each other … which means we sacrifice our lives (from small bits to our actual mortal lives) to exercise forgiveness and unconditional acceptance of other sinners in order that they also can hear of and experience the transforming power of God’s Grace for them … while we are called to sacrifice in contrast the people of the world around us, and even many of us, including those with borderline personality disorders, systematically and habitually exercise abuse and bullying against all in their path in order to get ahead, and then falsely judge others for supposedly being exactly what they are.

Caught in the devastation of a borderline personality disordered beloved, and the ensuing scapegoating and bullying that threatens to not only ruin my life but likely end it, how does one, living by Grace Alone, respond?

There is only one response: to live with grace, to live as well as one can, to find Grace and Beauty in each moment in each person encountered, and to live with as much joy and gratitude as possible.

For me, as a photographer among many other vocations and skills, that means to use the equipment I have left (one result of abuse was the loss of my some of the best SLR cameras, lenses and lighting equipment, as well as software) to capture and share beauty right in my ‘own backyard.’

Enjoy with me that these photos are possible, even with a cell phone camera. What a marvel compared to my first digital camera that cost more than three times as much!

On the water with my wife’s canoe, the marvelous item that makes our presence literally on the water possible. While others have yachts and houseboats and ski boats and fishing boats and even kayaks, this simple and relatively inexpensive, therefore possible, possession requires our own muscle power to get it into the water and then our own muscle power to move it across the water … but what a view into the marvels of beauty:

The Boat

Shoreline Trees Caught in the Sunset Light

The Loon of Haunting Cries

(Sorry it’s not with a telephoto lens to capture the loon properly!)

Sunset on the Water

A Rare Selfie: Golden Light on a Face Made Ancient by Abuse and Bullying

Relaxing by the New Fire Ring Properly Made (as we clean up yet another trashed random campsite on crown land.) That’s sand on an area without roots likely below, covered with the sand not 10 feet away and clear of trees above, ringed with substantial enough rocks to contain the fire in a ring large enough and a bit oblong to not necessitate wood laid into the fire also laying across the ring of rocks and outside the ring.

 

 

We bask in a night’s rest in the quiet beside the lake, to the lonely cry of the loon … As the sun rises we wake to the white bark of birch against the marvelous sparkling water of the lake.

Life is good, even if some (many) people simply cannot be even decent yet alone grace-filled. As for me and my family (and all my children), we will live Grace and appreciate beauty.

Free Air, Free Sun, Free Tornado Warnings

Free Air, Free Sun, Free Tornado Warnings

5 am

After the winds blew tremendous and the lights were mostly off but then suddenly, momentarily full back on as if daylight again …

The froth kicked up by the wind borders the beaches

 

The fishing boat is still secure

The moon still wanes

And the birds are still soaring about.

Mostly life goes on, though a few trees met their end and some hopes were dashed,

But life mostly goes on

Limited as it is by families split, and wars started, villages burned out and camping spots still riddled with bullets and glass.

Who heard of leaving or putting a 22. Bullet in a campfire ring!

And the young women is on her way to the hospital.

New Kinosoo Beach

New Kinosoo Beach

Wonders come in good surprises.

Like the improvements to parks and recreational areas.

Like wonderful sunsets at the Marina

The line of sunset visitors is slim, but always comfortable in their own skin.

Riding back the greatest colour took even me back a bit.

I almost passed them up, not to disturb their fun, but with the light so marvelous, and they having so much fun as a group of teens at the beach, I made the request and demonstrated what could be done with the sunrise and even just a cell phone camera.

Teaching photography I repeated often what I heard from a host of other photography instructors: always have a camera on you, and always see the photos that are possible even if you do not stop.

This paid off, and this group of young adults was 1) obviously having a simply good time at the beach, and 2) they were clear enough with themselves to know if they were willing to pose as the silhouettes against the sunset.

The guys were ready and willing, and one of the girls stepped in to make a good demonstration:

 

When they saw how fabulouse the photo could be, and heard that I was asking them to do something to show how much fun they were having at the new beach.

There were a few that we shot, but they made something like this and I kept shooting as fast as the little cell could, and it evolved into this.

All agreed this is the best of the lot.

I didn’t recognize any of the young adults, so I could not give you names or give them anything but anonymous credit.

But anonymous credit is greatly due: look at what this groups of young people thought of with little to no notice!

This is the past, the present, the improvements, the joy of life, and these young people are the future of Canada. We should do all right, in their creative hands, finding solutions and possibilities in the complicated world.