What Land Do We Possess?

March 10, 2019
First Sunday in Lent, Year C

Opening question

What land do we possess, where have we settled, that does God continue to give to us, that continues to produce for us that we can share with others?

Ripples – not alone.

The land that God gives us each minute has ripple effects on us, which catch the light of Christ, resplendent.

Theme for Lent: what is the acceptable fast?

 Isaiah 58

6Is not this the fast that I choose:
  to loose the bonds of injustice,
  to undo the thongs of the yoke,
 to let the oppressed go free,
  and to break every yoke?
7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
  and bring the homeless poor into your house;
 when you see the naked, to cover them,
  and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
  and your healing shall spring up quickly;
 your vindicator shall go before you,
  the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

In Deuteronomy’s reading for today the promised land is possessed and settled. The land is survival and security, the land is yearly crops for food, for trade to provide for other needs, the land is status and a place to call home … sort of.

For the land is provided by God. It is not earned or deserved. God one sided promises it. God continues to give it each day.

Knowing our history is key to living life abundantly. We know history, not just to avoid repeating bad history, but to know the good of history, to know God’s story, and our place in it. To remember how much God has blessed us.

What is it for each of us that God promises and gives us to posses and settle, that provides us survival and security, that is a place to call home, to share with our family. A place from which we are known to be grounded and where we come from.

For a few of us it also includes land, literally, a piece of ground that we hold the title to. For most of us it is something else, a profession, a career, or a job that included a retirement plan of some kind that still produces some kind of an income for us. Or perhaps it is family before us or after us, who have provided or still provide for us, security, survival, a place to call home. Or perhaps it is our reputation, that brings us recognition, respect, and a sense of worth. Or perhaps it is our ability to make friends, or our ability to write, or produce art or music. Or it is our ability to listen, understand, and comfort others in duress.

This is the land that God is giving to us. The text makes the point that God’s giving us the promised land is ongoing, each day.

God sends Isaiah to tell us what our response is to be: Each year at harvest we give first fruits that this land has produced and we recite God’s history with us, how God delivered us, we who were in our past aliens, formerly hungry, once unclothed, used to be captives, once upon a time … before we are what we are now, we used to be those kind of people, if not in this generation then in our ancestors’ time. Now God gives us the land not because we are good, or pious, or righteous, but because the land remains God’s and God chooses to give it to us. Though we posses it and settle it the land is always God’s.

When we are done giving the first fruits then Isaiah reminds us that God wants us to celebrate that God’s land has produced again, and just as we once were outcasts, outsiders, or aliens, so also we celebrate with the outcasts, outsiders, and aliens in our midst. In Canada we call them immigrants or refugees, and others designated as outcasts, outsiders,
personae non gratae.

In today’s Gospel Jesus faces the Devil, the great deceiver. The Devil wants Jesus, hungry from fasting, to feed himself, claim power for himself, and prove for himself that God will save him.

The Devil tempts Jesus with everything for Jesus himself, just sacrifice the teensie, weensie little thing of worshipping Satan. The things the Devil offers are not bad in and of themselves. They become evil when they are hoarded for oneself, instead of provided to everyone!

The Devil tempts us with everything as though life were an if/then reality: if you serve the devil then you will succeed in life.

God assures us that life is not that way, not blessed life lived abundantly. Life lived abundantly is always an because/therefore reality:

because God blesses us therefore we can bless others.

Jesus knows clearly that the Devil is the great deceiver who perverts everything into a private if/then proposition. Jesus knows that bread is good for life, but not just for himself, rather for all people. Instead Jesus gives his life that others may eat and never be hungry.

Jesus knows that power is important, that it can save and destroy people. Jesus is not ready to take shortcuts to gain corrupt power, power promised by the great deceiver, power which is really nothing. Instead Jesus exercises God’s power by sacrificing himself so that all people may live. That’s real power.

Jesus knows clearly that people of faith trust God because of what God has done for them and that God promises to protect them. But to test God is something entirely different from trusting God.

Instead Jesus exposes the Devil’s false use of scripture. Jesus trusts that even as he faces the cross, the most horrific death known at the time, God’s angels will be on watch with him, as he sets right the chaos of the devil in all the universe for all people. Jesus demonstrates so clearly God’s grace and acceptance for everyone, so that we no longer have any real excuse to try to test God.

In Paul’s writings to the Romans Paul makes this very clear: salvation witnessed to by the confession of Jesus Christ on one’s lips and in one’s heart is not reserved for just some people. Jesus’ salvation is offered for everyone. The Holy Spirit can create faith in anyone. There is no closed club, or special skills required, or properly formed faith practices that make only certain people God’s children. God’s grace alone creates children of God. The Holy Spirit creates saints of sinners. God never stops giving to us what we need to be faithful. But the key is this: everything is dependent on God, not on us, not even on our responses.

God is in control. God continues to give land to us.

We get to respond, giving our first fruits and practising the fast that brings justice, freedom, clothes, food, and homes for those without. So we celebrate along with even the outsider, the outcast, and the alien all that God has done for us, through history and in these last days.

God’s Glory Shines, even when we forget.

Amen

Baptism of Our LOrd

Sermon notes? outline? sketch? yes that’s it, a sketch.

For the best read, take in the next blog post first, then this one.

Quick sermon outline for Baptism of Our Lord 13 Jan 2019

John is wild and calls for the chaff to be burned up.

Jesus will come to judge, and purify.

We need all that.

But Christ comes and graciously gives us life.

Where’s the hellfire and brimstone in that?!

Well…

Given free choice so that we can love

we can also choose ( and continually do) to hate, or to be deceptive and dishonest, disloyal, or even just plain BAD. Call that EVIL.

If we have choice, we will somehow, sometime still choose against love, against God, against living well.

God wants us to love, so we all get to put up with Evil, and suffer it too.

But

When

Jesus

comes

and

judges us!

Well then all that which brings us to sin and turn from God, to turn from loving our neighbour as ourselves and our enemies , and our God with all our heart mind and soul, then and only then Jesus will remove that from us …

But

it

is

not

going

to

be

feeling good.

That’s having the dross burned right out of ya.

And it is like having the chaff burned up in one big hot fire.

It will not be fun,

But it is what we most need, and we are going to get it!

To we are baptized, in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, always trinitarian, or it is not a complete baptism.

The water drowns out the sinfulness, and yet it remains as potential, inevitable potential, so that we can choose love.

The oil prepares us for God’s presence in us.

The sign of the Cross prepares us for sacrifice, even of our lives, so that others will know Grace upon Grace and God’s love, Christ’s forgiveness and the Holy Spirit’s wild ride down the white water of life with wind, flame, breath, and beauty all everywhere.

Then for the rest of our lives we anticipate the life eternal, in the resurrection with Christ.

There

Freedom promised comes to be, after the dross is burned right out of us, so that we can enter Christ’s freedom in eternity.

This we look forward to.

But we do it, well … we do everything we do, as one of a crowd of witnesses, a crowd of saints, all in light,

specular light, diffused and reflected into beautiful images of God, as we are made.

It may be cold out there in that cruel world of dishonesty, deception and scapegoating,

but in here, where the natural fuels are burned,

the fuel of urgency until in God’s time there is patience,

the fuel of hurt (could become anger) until forgiveness flows freely like milk with ginger snap cookies,

the fuel of pride (that discounts others) until gratefulness abounds at each breath though one has nothing left,

These fuels are burned and burned well, until

in this mind, heart and soul

its as toasty comfortably warm as a great wood stove on a cold winter’s day.

Which it is that, too.

God Calls Us

Note: this is a sermon for those who have the privilege on
the second Sunday of Christmas.

IHP TZ is an organization started by Dr Dennis and Paula Lofstrom, working to build health care facilities in TZ (Tanzania) where I spent some of my childhood. Their first project was in Iambi.

They and many others joining them (you could, too!) are building a miracle: the first pediatric hospital in TZ, just north of Dar, in Zinga. See http://www.ihptz.org/ for more information.

God Calls Us Home, Today, Again

This Christmas, on each and every one of the 12 days of Christmas, we celebrate God coming to us. God comes to us in the form of an infant child, fully God, fully human. This birth is such a common thing: that another human is born. This birth is such an extraordinary thing: that it is God born as one of us – this birth is so different for God. It changes everything.

But it is not that God changes at all. It is not that God’s mercy is only now known. It is not that God does anything new – except that with Jesus’ birth God gives us a clearer view of God’s own self.

Christmas is not when God somehow changes to be with us.

God was always with us.

The greatest change is in us. God changes us so that we trust God’s presence. We are the ones, traipsing along on a wayward trip, who Jesus’ birth changes.

We see God’s self better, as a human who lived among us, ready to sacrifice himself, not others, to bring order our of chaos by Grace. We see most clearly God’s unconditional love, forgiveness and eagerness to give us new life. We see the Holy Spirit continuing God’s work even today among us!

We become better than we were, but more importantly we become less than we were before: less independent and more interdependent, less demanding and more generous, less greedy and more thankful, less hard-necked and more flexible, less judgmental and more forgiving.

In a word, Jesus is born, so that we can hear God’s invitation to come home.

On that dark night on the hills surrounding Bethlehem the shepherds are out with their flocks. Shepherds are the lowest kind of humanity. They are the ones sent out to keep sheep safe from the dangers of the night. These are more than unqualified, they are the ones others determined to be expendable, unqualified except to guard stupid sheep.

God makes them a special invitation. God invites them to his own home, to celebrate the birth of his only son. This home doesn’t look like much. It is a simple stable. Okay, it’s really a dirty animal barn.

Animals and a few poverty-captured people sit around after a birth of a baby boy. And this is a Jew that is born, a member of the backward religious people that cannot run their own affairs well enough to keep from getting overrun by foreign power after foreign power. The Romans are just the lastest of a long line of more powerful countries that have conquered these poor people.

What can the shepherds do? The sky shines bright with a star like no other. The air resounds with choruses of angels. One angel says not to be afraid, but these poor shepherds are beyond being afraid. Their world just got all turned around. Everything is changed. And God invites them to his home.

What can they do but go and pay him a visit?

At least they do not need to change to fit in. The stable is for animals and people like them. So the shepherds go to visit God at home.

If God invites the shepherds, then the God certainly will invite us. And neither do we need to change to fit in. There is no special suit, no special words to say. God invites us into the earthy parts of this world. For that is God’s home. That is where God’s heart is.

Home. Home is the place where your heart is. Home is where your family is. Home is where you belong, no matter what you do, no matter what happens, no matter what you do good or wrong.

Home is this and much more.

Home is where God created us to live, it is paradise, it is the New Jerusalem, it is the answer to every yearning.

This Christmas we come home. Not just to those who gave us birth and raised us. Not just to those who grew up with us. Not just to those we gave birth to. Not just to those who love us. This Christmas we come home to the One who loves us unconditionally.

From Iambi Tanzania this a snippet from the 2003 news:

The air is very soft this morning, just a whisper of breeze, temp. about 70. It rained last night, again. Yes, the rains have returned. Thank you for your prayers, and thank You, God!

One day after I sent the last e-mail winds had shifted in Dar es Salaam. The following day it rained in Singida. The day after that it sprinkled here rather like a promise, “Don’t despair.” The following night it rained, a good pour with lightning and thunder, and the night after that and last night. The lake is filling like a bathtub.

The frogs are in full chorus as the Duromo’s streams began to fill and flow once more. New life, new hope. The spring rains, though 2 months late, have come.

Our neighbors are all busy now that the rains have come. They’ve cleared the fields by hand during the dry season, and cattle and goats grazed the soil almost bare. Subsistence farming is a cooperative family enterprise. Grand parents watch the youngest children while Dad gets behind the plow. Younger children guide the two small oxen with sticks and Mom drops the precious maize seeds into the newly cut furrow and covers them over. Up one row and down the next.

But, for the next three months, until the harvest begins, there will be severe hunger on the Iamba Plateau. Some people think that growing a cash crop, like the English imposed growing potatoes on the Irish, or raising sheep for wool in New Zealand, or growing strawberries in Guatemala for the Americans is a good alternative to subsistance farming, but what if the cash crop fails or the market changes? How do those farmers then feed themselves? Are there social impact studies as well as environmental ones when it comes to agricultural management?

I went down to the hospital a few days ago to snap pictures of our nurse-midwife taking advantage of the midwife kits supplied to us by Global Health Ministries. The moms and midwives were delighted with the hats, towels, soap, washcloths, and receiving blankets in each kit. One mom had had a C-section which costs $60.00 at Iambi. At all of the other hospitals it’s $100 to $105.00 But when the average family’s cash income averages only $20.00 a month, as it is in this area, the hospital bill of $60.l00 is staggering. After a month, if the family cannot pay the bill, it is forgiven, and the mom and baby go home. But the hospital cannot absorb these costs and still pay the nursing staff, buy the medicines and anesthesia, and even the cleaning supplies and still function without outside assistance.

Suffering and hopelessness are the best means to learn the best and strongest lessons for each of us. As acceptance unfolds, dimly at first, and then more clearly, we see that God’s divine timing has been working all the time and that we have lost nothing that is not coming back to us, perhaps in new containers, but in God’s abundance.

Paula concluded her email with: Thank you for your prayers. Thank You God for the rain and the promise of new life. Thank you for birds and bull frogs and lizards large and small.

Home is where God calls us to live. Home is where God gives us opportunity to give our very lives that others may live. Home is where we stop violence and injustice, where forgiveness and mercy prevail.

Home.

Home is where God invites us to live, no matter who we are. No matter what we are. Whether we’ve been good or bad. Because we have always been both.

Home is where we hope, and it becomes true.

This Christmas God invites you to come home, to see Jesus in your lives at all turns and to reflect him in your thoughts, words and actions of love and forgiveness.

This is the home that God invites us to, here where his only son is born.

Amen!



This is my home, today with ice fog deposited everywhere in wonder.
Home: a Miracle
This is my home everything borrowed except a bicycle, sleeping bag and tent. A borrowed wood stove addition (built to emit clean, more fully burned smoke) connected by tarps to a borrowed camper, all mobile, since I have certainly have no land, nor none lent me, I am the guest of the queen, but for only 14 days at a time before I have to move everything off and find somewhere else to crash for three days.
A miracle.

Where is your home?

Your real home?

Where you are unconditionally loved?

Where can you safely unconditionally love others?

Where are you together with people of all colours, faiths, and cultures, shoulder to shoulder as equals facing each challenge and joy, … together with your beloved, you siblings, your children, your parents, your relatives, and your guests?

The Son has Risen

The morning of the eighth round of trying to get December to behave.

It is a futile struggle, for December has no agency, and yet we all persist,

Missing the light, golden and promising reaching through the trees snow covered green needled branches

Above a bed begging to be skied.

But I struggle with …

The simple joys that pull me into the quiet, resisting the

Work that will secure my warmth and safety, as pleasurable as it may be

To see something come from pieces of otherwise uninteresting stuff and junk.

The sun is risen, it is quiet, the peace is palatable, for I am warm enough to admire the snow, the light, the day.

Though promise of colder mornings drives me to work, constructing, slow in the cold with this old body and eyes.

For now there is enough, and for that I am thankful, and fearful since I see no supply for the short or long term.

My fingers are all split and painful at typing. Even this is slow.

I am blessed then with the possibility of enjoying each moment, savoring it, taking this day slowly, and noticing the little things.

God has saved me from my enemies,

Not by keeping their evil from destroying all I had, but they have not been able to destroy me.

I live well, with little, and prepare for less yet.

And warmth through the winter.

This is joy.

Leaning to the Light

For though I need more junk or stuff, to finish the project outside the window,

There is time, a little time, so little time,

That it must be savored deeply

So as not to miss the ignored

Or taken for granted

Blessings that are

Given to me so

That I am

Able to

Share

Now.

Thank you,

For your contributions to my days and daze

Love you,

The son of a sinner

Actually two.

Christ the King – Truth

What is truth?
Gospel: John 18:33-37
Selections from the texts for Christ the King Sunday, 25 November 2018, plus one verse:

Pilate: “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus: “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”
Pilate: “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own … have handed you over.
What have you done?”
Jesus: “My kingdom is not from this world.
If … then, my followers would be fighting.
Pilate: “So you are a king?”
Jesus: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born,
and … to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate: “What is truth?”

I went looking today:
I wanted to see things clearly, to know the truth about faith, love and hope.
I went looking as I often do across the water.
The water is hidden by ice,
Which is hidden by snow.
And today even the far shore is hidden by the fog across the lake.

 

I looked right.

 

I looked left.

 

I looked further to the left,
to the white sticks of birch.
But nothing about clarity came to me.

Pilate does not want to, but still he asks the question that must be asked: is Jesus the King of the Jews?
Jesus says he was born to have Pilate ask him this question … and
To testify to the truth.
Those that belong to the truth listen to Jesus’ voice.
So that Jesus is testifying to the truth: that’s simple enough: the whole life, death and resurrection of Jesus is a story that we can listen to and understand.
It’s not a story about another world or another realm.
Jesus was born as a human.
And God sent Jesus to live, die and be resurrected to leave us with a story that profoundly changes everything we see in the world.
We see God more clearly: God intends and does free us from our own sins, not the consequences in this world, but the consequence that would separate us from God. Instead, as Jesus story makes clear, God sticks with us always, all ways.
That’s something … okay that is everything.
Even though we step away from God, God follows us, even picks us up and carries us forward when we can no longer walk in God’s ways or even in God’s creation.
To be loved by God, that’s everything.

That’s what Jesus’ story tells us about God most clearly,
And that we can follow in Jesus’ way …
We can (God equips us so)
Choose also
To love,
Forgive,
And be gracious
With all people
In all ways.

There is living water, flowing freely here
Beneath the ice
And it is visible
At the edge
Of the
Lake.
If
One looks in the right place for it.

Water freely flowing from under the ice.

We no longer need to sacrifice anyone or anything in order to make ourselves right with God.
First of all we cannot in any way through any means make ourselves right with God.
We just are too broken to do this.
Secondly we do not have to make ourselves right with God, because God, as Jesus did, makes Godself right with us, where ever we meander in life.
And God turns our meandering into dancing,
Our fear into deep breathing calm and assurance
And our chaos into God’s blessings for us and for others.

Abraham’s story of ‘sacrificing’ Isaac, being interrupted by God, is the story about God instructing us to stop sacrificing children to God, to appease God.
Jesus’s story of his life, death and resurrection is the story of God instructing us to stop sacrificing anything and everyone … God does not want any sacrifice, it does us no good, and God already is there by our side even when we still scapegoat someone … again … and again.

In response to the story unfolding before him, Pilate is like most of us, a bit befuddled and unaware of what’s at play before his eyes.
He thinks like a ruler of the Roman empire about to spiral into decay: there is no truth, there is no real God, there is only subjective, relativistic truth and there are only the many gods of the many religions of the many, many people conquered by Rome.
Who knows what is true about what happened before time,
Yet alone even tomorrow, given all the fake news, the lies upheld as truths, the spin that so many people put on so many things that even those that lie so freely, cannot keep track of what really happened.
But this is truth:
God so loved the world that God gave God’s only son to die for all of creation, so that those that believe in him might live, truly live, and know the truth of God’s Grace, Forgiveness, and Love.

Now that is a truth to base real hope on, hope that cannot disappoint.
That is truth.

It is the light that is always there, even if today it is obscured by the clouds so low,
The sun
Is
There

 

Visible at sunset
Yesterday after the clouds hung around all day.

And what do we do in response: Jesus calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves, even our enemies, and to love the Lord our God with all our hearth, mind and soul.

 

 

[okay, on further proof reading I see that I meant to write:

with all our heart, mind and soul.

I could have just corrected it, but I kind of like the image mixed in with the command to love God,

That we would love God with all our hearth … that spot below a fireplace or wood stove, from which heat is produced to keep us alive through the Canadian winters, or just cozy in modern Canada … well at least for most of us, or you all, cause I need a wood stove to help stay warm and alive this winter since I cannot afford the propane, nor to replace the furnace every two years. But back to the image:

That we would love God with that warm spot in the home, a place of family, parents and children, oh how I miss children. and that we would dedicate all that might entail,

sitting with children, reading near the hearth, playing on the hearth

sitting with one’s beloved, after the kids are in bed, or gone from home to their own lives and homes, near the hearth, reading or resting or enjoying a glass of Mosel, Saar, Ruhr – Riesling – Kabinett

and reviewing the gifts of God that day; those received and those given.

But perhaps you would have preferred I’d just made the correction to the typo.

But then I would have missed out on those memories, if not real, then hoped for, and the hope of soon having those memories near a wood stove, for real practical reasons:

I’ve these addictions I try to provide for:

I’m addicted to clean air, clean water, food, sufficient clothing, shelter enough to smile at the cold and snow, rain and heat; as well as meaningful labour, and to be loved, and most of all to remain capable of loving …

my neighbours,

my self,

my enemies,

my God.

with all my hearth and home,

all my heart, mind and soul,

and all my words, and photos.

 

Comments welcomed at shm at prwebs dot com.

God gave his Son

We sin.

God loves us.

God gives her Son to die, to pay for our sins.

(About the pronoun for God, see the ending.)

We ought not suffer the consequences of our sins if Jesus pays the price for them, Right?

The consequence that we do not suffer is God does not honour the reality that our sins create: namely that we are separated from God.

The rest of the consequences, we and others still suffer. And we do it sometimes too often without any Grace.

Grace, it’s that wonderful attitude of God toward us,

that is so great and large that it may be hard to comprehend well.

Just say that God is dancing with us through life, and when we sin, taking a misstep in the dance, God does not step on our toes, even when we put them right under God’s nose … or rather feet.

Grace is how God dances with us, serene, always there, smooth, never predictable, but never strained or clumsy, … just there

especially when we deserve everything but God’s presence.

Grace, that’s how God responds to our sins.

One tradition explains it all by saying that there is a price to pay for every sin. We can pay it, or, as in times of old, we can offer a sacrifice, an offering to atone, or make up for, the sin. It’s sort of like not really paying but paying something not so bad instead.

Which leads to all sorts of traditions around altars and killing and blood and …

Even Jesus death is seen this way, as a sacrifice, offered by God, taken by us all (no scapegoating – but that’s jumping ahead-).

The conundrum of this view is that Jesus pays the price for our sins, but we still suffer the consequences, except that God is not separated from us. God remains with us, which is something (well actually it’s everything) but we humans have always wanted to be free from the consequences of our sins, because we seem to understand how terrible they are.

If we were still in the business of sacrificing, killing, and offering blood to God to atone for our sins, then Jesus as the sacrificial lamb would make a lot of sense.

A side step first: Jesus living and dying did not change God; it changes what we know of God, and how we know it. Jesus life story makes us able to know many things about God that we may not have been so able to know, and to know just by knowing a story.

Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, stepping right out of the altar sacrifice, blood and making good for sins in the temple, is a powerful image, and not at all to be lost.

The story God gave us with his son is quantum levels more significant.

God gave his son to show us that God has made the last sacrifice on an altar, a blood offering, a life offering.

And that is supposed to show us, simple and easy, that that’s the end of that.

And not just the blood offering, taking of a life, but the kind of sacrificing someone else, making them pay for what we have done.

It’s about Grace making it possible for us to be fully accountable for our own sins. Enough (and then some) scapegoating.

It’s easy to know Jesus’ story as the end to blood offerings, because we don’t do that anyway.

It’s a full reality pill to swallow, one that will transform our lives if we pay attention to the story, if we understand that Jesus’ story is supposed to be the last time that anyone scapegoats anyone.

That’s harder to swallow because … well we all scapegoat people, sometimes even innocent bystanders to the mess we make of our lives.

So: God gives his son … to teach us, to give us a clear story of how God intended us to live, and scapegoating is not any part of what God intended.

If we know that God forgives us, stays right by our side when we suffer the consequences of our own or others’ sins, then it is possible to be accountable for our sins. We do not need to scapegoat someone else in order to think that God still accepts us, in spite of the terrible sins we commit.

God loves us, forgives us, stays with us: that’s the purpose of God giving Jesus … so that we can know God’s grace first hand, and then give it to others.

Even at sunset, God loves, forgives and stays with us … in the light.

Dance. For God is dancing, singing, laughing with us.

Dance. For God is carrying us, wailing in pain, and crying with us.

Dance. That’s what we do, if we choose not to scapegoat someone else for what we’ve done wrong.

God gave his Son, so that we might truly live and dance.

Even if we only dance in our dreams.

’cause if you’re not dancing … you ain’t nothing doing.

Now where did I put that music, the song of God’s creation, dancing with light and snow and cold and heat and rain and drought and … well all of us.

Breathe

There is a way through any dance, any circumstance, any challenge.
Even when the light is nearly gone, there is a way.

Breathe,

because in the next moment wen you recognize that God is leading, you just might not be able to catch your breath, the steps are so wondrously tantalizingly

grace – full.

Now about that pronoun for God:

There is so much that God has made clear for us to know, but what God has not made clear is if God is male, female or other, or how we ought to use pronouns referring to God. So they are all available, some disturbing in their historical and hysterical use, abuse and demand that others use the ‘right’ one.

The one thing we know clearly is: God is also full of Grace about all the pronoun use/abuse/demands; and we can be, too, if we so choose.

The only thing I’m pretty clear on, is demanding that others … fill in the blank … is almost always counter-productive, and doing so about the pronoun used for God is counter-grace-full.

That’s a dance, too. I wish only that it were more often a dance of grace instead of anger.

Pronouns are important, language is important, but only if they are part of a dance of grace.

Breathe.

God gave God’s son so that we could all breathe, and dance with Grace.

Start of a Sweet Month

1 November,  All Saints Day
Start of a Sweet Month

It is a sweet month, November is, a month when winter is not set, though the sun sets early and rises late. The hard cold is not yet, and the water is still clear for canoeing.
A month to prepare, a month that is the end of the church year, a month when travelers are few and far between and solitude and peace are more easily found in old haunts and newly explored places.

Then on the first day of this sweet month, with temperatures already below zero often in October, the cold arrived over night at -7 with a low forecast of -4. In town it’s -3.
Halloween was a cold one again.
And November came in with just a skiff of snow.

 

Snow on the canoe.

 

 

 

 

A closer look at the obvious presence

 

Of a beaver, obvious because of the telltale tooth marks on the trees, as the beaver prepares for winter, setting the food of trees in storage next to the beaver house, not 50 meters distant downstream.

 

This, just a stone’s throw from the wake up view, is the outflow creek of the lake. The beaver have taken this creek, dammed and controlled it to keep the lake at high water marks and made a quiet pond, a home for them, and for us to canoe on just down the creek a bit, over a couch some fools left on the ice one winter past.

This the stillness of wonderful weather, quiet from the throngs, and distance from the noise of the city, but not out of reach of the military jet sonic booms as they reach out to distant sorties.

Here the soul, on All Souls Day, can live well.
Here the saint, on All Saints Day, can live well.
Here creation is good.
Money is scarce, fuel for transportation and electricity (generator made) is short, and propane for heat is dwindling.
Ah, a wood stove in a shelter on a trailer, which would provide dry heat, a system for heat that costs labour and chainsaw gas and oil, and truck gas to haul in the wood. But that’s a pipe dream.

Even so, here, whatever may come,

all is well, all is well, all manner of things are well.

The View in Words

The View in Words
Wake orange on dark blue black water waving still in a hardly breeze.
No animal, then a neck or nose, a loon or a beaver?
A Sock under the water out a foot into the water, wool and warm and orphaned.
The wake joined by a second this closer and obviously a loon or duck maybe, and then the other moves and two new wakes colour the water.
The red spread of sun having set small in area with tinges of red reflected in water and clouds.

The muskrat’s footprints, and then a crow’s footprints. Clear water into the sand and reflecting amid the reeds bent in submission to the cold, doubled in their own reflection curved top and bottom breaking the water view, but still coloured by the setting sun.
The orange water catching the sunset not red but orange as if the sky were more beautiful than it is.

All these words

because I missed the sunset canoe ride and forgot my camera, even my cell phone, and must remember the view as it is, until another showed up with a camera and I borrowed it to record what I took note of in my mind as the view for tonight’s setting sun.

This is the sunset.

 

Tracks

 

The colours, the view, the sunset.

 

Words, as great as they are, are not as verbose as a photo.

Hanging Loose, Hanging Tight

Hanging Loose, Hanging Tight

We found ourselves out in the mountains again. Observing the environment of plants, animals, humans, and machines.

The spectacular sights outside our window in the morning make it all worth the effort.

 

 

The expanse of the clouds above the mountains off in the distance as we were nestled in the privacy of the trees on an open field with the sun setting made it wonderful.

 

 

 

And literally taking the kitchen sink, the bed, the toilet and tub, the table, the fridge, stove and furnace, and our clothes and luggage make for an easy waking in some marvelous spots.

 

From a very helpful machinist we got the tip that there were three falls just a few paces off the tarmac. We investigated in a heavy downpour.

 

 

We only found two but these are a combination of human engineering and beaver damming that result in protecting the road from surely otherwise eroding away.

A bit upstream we found another falls and rapids series, and never did find the third as we were soaked and cold.

 

 

But the creamy white and the wild wet rocks played along well, as long as we could hold out.

 

That evening we hung the truck and camper not loose at all but very secured to the side of a decommissioned logging road. The specular light turned the green canoe (another part of the trip) into a bronze wonder.

 

There, on the side of the mountain the wake up out the door view was even more breathtaking and then breath giving, as the sun played with the clouds and the valleys were visible for miles and miles.

 

The dreamy feel comes from the fog laying low on the mountains as fresh rain evaporates to fill the air.

 

The vegetation is lush, framing (sometimes blocking) the views.

 

At our feet daisies and red paintbrush flowers created a carpet of colour.

 

The sky for just a moment even took on the hue of the lush lilac coloured flowers dotting the mountainside in lines and groups.

 

The sunsets were awesome.

 

The light bedazzling bringing the trees to life otherwise not there.

And that is good photography.

Some of all that can be reduplicated with ordinary photos and lots of software work, usually hdr, to try to bring out the light, but nothing works as well as finding the moment the light dances, and being ready to capture it, in order to share it.

 

While I was out I remembered quickly the difference the exposure time makes on water.

Creamy here.

 

Sharp and clear here.

 

A landscape with just one spot of colour.

 

Or a portrait to lose almost all the colour except the one rose.

 

And playing with the focus if you just let the camera do its thing, sometimes everything wrong is in focus and the thing out of focus.

 

So you have to make sure you control what is happening to get what you want.

 

Sometimes the great difference in light levels is just too much and something is lost.

 

And then multiple exposure HDR can sometimes bring the light of everything to be seen in one photo. – But with better software there are better options.

 

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.