Progress ?

Progress    ?

 

What is progress?

 

I do not mean just what is the definition of progress

But what is it to actually make some progress towards what is the ultimate goal or purpose of life?

 

So the question begs first the other question: what is the ultimate goal or purpose of life, and then what can one do to move towards that goal or purpose?

 

Better stated: how does one live, so that life is good?

Or

To use Julian of Norwich’s words:

How does one live, so that

All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well,

even when there is no evidence that anything is well at all?

 

There are so many considerations for all of that, which today I am not even going to try to approach yet alone address, or, maybe not.

But I saw

Progress

Right before my eyes.

 

First,

the natural progress,

comprssd over just a few days,

 

 

 

from snow free on the first,

with water free to canoe across

 

 

 

To lightly dusted

showing only on the cleared areas and pathways

 

 

 

To fully snow covered

ready for skiing

and open water waving nicely at the wind.

 

 

 

To obscured by the condensation on the window in the early hours

 

 

 

To a clear view of ice

Hanging on the reeds

 

 

 

To the ice covering the lake

The ice formed all across the rest of the lake all at once.

Two hours before this photo taken at 12:26 noon

The lake was still waving to the wind.

I thought it was hello but it was a good bye!

 

So far, besides the sudden full lake freeze

This is just the progress of a fall in Canada.

 

 

 

 

Until sunset, when the forces of expansion,

Ever present as water gives way to ice,

Break the one piece surface.

The cracks show the lake’s breaking points

In vivid tracks.

 

 

Now comes the challenge,

a bit of photography,

A bit of philosophy

A bit of Grace

And a lot of Hope:

How to capture the scene in front of me that sings so wonderfully

Across my eyes and through my fingers to my brain?

 

Because, just trying to capture that teasingly intriguing ‘S’ of a crack

The natural tendency, especially framed by the bushes on either side of

this narrow canoe landing,

oops

this ski entrance on to the lake, –

the natural tendency is to put the ‘S’ in the middle of the frame

 

And as marvelous as it was in-person here the above photo kind of dies

A quick death as the eye stops with the ‘S’ and moves no further.

 

 

So it takes some moving and trying, and seeing:

 

S Right

So the photos above and below are an effort to move the ‘S’ off the center

to invite one’s eye to dance around the photo.

 

 

 

 

S Left

Somehow they just still sit under the wonder, somehow flat.

 

 

So the idea is to look around in a different direction to see something more.

 

 

And with that effort  still missing the wonder of the view

I tried getting more,

literally more of what was in front of me:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The panorama of the whole view out the canoe, opps, ski access point.

It’s all there and still that wondrously difficult and intriguing ‘S’ falls dead compared to the reality in front of me.

 

So …

 

 

 

 

 

I tried for a little less of everything

Which becomes intriguing

with the clear focus on the near, iced shore,

a view of the ‘S’

heading off to the sunset

leaving us at the far shore

catching a ride back to the near shore,

broken by – well it’s

still not quite right with the small branch breaking in on the left,

A ‘merge’ that distracts the eye out of the essentials to the big ooppps.

 

But it is -20° C

That’s minus 20° Celsius

I’m using voice activation to start the photos,

Which does not work for panoramas

so off come the gloves to shoot.

And my bared fingers are crying SOS

(which always gives way to them splitting more painful cracks at the tips in protest, which take days to heal),

So I did not get that even normally simple merge corrected,

a small step of progress towards good,

That I normally would not pass up on.

 

 

Still the sun rises again the next morning, gorgeously red and promising …

 

Promising of more snow

Which comes in spades

Or inches

Or millimeters.

But it fills the skies after 10:00 until dark and beyond,

The land gets a new cover, perfect for skiing.

 

The furnace has developed a hole in the combustion chamber, pumping C0 into the cabin,

And I have to turn it off through the nights, and only when I can get by without it’s heat does my head clear enough to deal with all the challenges which a furnace-less camper presents.

 

I move from flowing water, even heated water,

to ‘running’ water:

I run,

to get water,

then I have running water.

 

 

 

 

Progress.

Do

You

See

What is progress?

 

The progress that is inevitable

And the progress which is the result of

the labour of hope and photography

Which catches and communicates the wonders of creation

To demonstrate

Pure

Beauty.

 

God’s beautiful world.

 

What progress have you made lately?

Not just getting through each inevitable day,

But moving each day a step sideways and deeper

Toward those things that

Are worth living

For

And

From?

 

 

Well,

Will

all be well,

Not just in words,

But in the soul of your life?

In the soul of this creation?

In the face of challenges and temptations that open the door

To evil and sin allowing them to prevail?

 

Or are you a Saint, by grace, giving witness to God’s presence everywhere, always.

 

Do you love your neighbours as your self, and your enemies,

and the LORD your God, with all your soul and your might?

 

Only by Grace,

is real progress possible.

Change

Change

 

Yesterday
Was
All
Saints’
Sunday

The afternoon came late with snow
Enough to cover the browns of fall
And cover most everything with the white of winter.

Change.
It is not enough that it’s change.
This one, many of us would have wished, would have waited a month or more.
Makes for a long winter, or so we say.

We don’t mind change, we just want to be in control. We want to choose what change comes our way and forms our futures becoming our past.

So what change would we choose?
The lists are endlessly wishful, and just about totally impossible.

So what to do with this change, this snow change.
It’s a little thing, really, snow in November.
It’s the cold, the cost for fuel which may become impossible.
And that is not just a little thing.

Which does not melt the snow or reduce the cost for fuel.

What can one do with such a change?
It’s simple.
By morning more snow floated loose from the clouds
Onto the brow-beaten ground that is as much home as anywhere;
It’s enough to ski on.
And it’s enough to make a great time preparing for the winter to come.

Snow.
For Saints all, it is an opportunity,
an opportunity to turn what many will complain about,
into a graceful chance to enjoy the wonders of creation.

Wonders are many, and the thankfulness one holds
For the little things,
Or the big things,
That make cold into a gift and wonder.

The canoe is stored for the winter; it’s too dangerous to canoe with water so close to freezing as one glides on the ripples, waves and fish spinning galore.

And the skis are ready.
Tomorrow will be the day to first cross country ski on the ground that God created and called good.

All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.

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.

Finding Ones Way Home

Finding Ones Way Home

There are developments
So late
In life
That they really are
A part of
Death,
Or rather
The final stages
Of living.

So I was reminded at a funeral this past week. Instead of the usual disheartening eulogizing, her son repeated some of the beautiful humour Carolyn shared with them in her final days, humour and care for them, when they least expected it.

One needs to find the beauty
That is all around
While one can.


Sometimes the wonder is clear as the sun sets.

… and the humour …

That comes in so many forms.
Take the pallets burned with garbage left all around by some fools a week or so ago:
Yesterday
two people full of humour
Decided to visit the same campsite,
with rocks bared showing the fire ring,
And burn a few more pallets, wood and nails, right next to the fire ring.

They must have had lots of joy,
Because they were simply too full of themselves,
Too busy,
Too important,

and/or

too stupid

To pick up the countless nails the burned pallets left behind,
Which is actually criminal.

Then there is the humour and beauty of being alive when so many people have threatened my life,
and
Of being gracious to the cruel enemies whose lies have brought so many people to think that my life
Is only worth ending,

that my life is their’s to claim in a false or misplaced revenge

for things I did not do, but others have done to me.

 

They find their way home, foolishly resolving their conflict by
inflicting on me the repute and punishment that is properly their own.
Their homes must be crawling with invisible mice and rats of great humours.

My home is a huge place, the whole outdoors
and a small place that may indeed
(if just one error picks it’s day to appear here too soon)
sink as ice becomes mush.

But for now the beauty is all around.
Breathe,
One has at least a few more days
To share the goodness of life,
Before the cost of one’s enemy’s lies are unjustly one’s own to bear.
At least the left over nails from the pallets cannot be used in a crucifixion

Or can they?

Is this
The path
Home
Through wind blown
Snow?

 

So today there is the beginning of path or roadway of sorts that may survive long enough to allow home to move on top of soil before it is too late.

How are you going to find your way home, today and each day,

while you still can?

I was asked again today …

I was asked again today …

What question do you keep getting asked?
As a photographer I always ask: where is the light?
As a theologian I always ask: how do we speak of God?
As a sacramental mystic I always ask: have you experienced the infinite breaking into the finite?
As a father I always ask: what can I do for my children, for all children, especially as they become parents of children?
I do not get asked these kinds of questions lately at all.
The question that I am asked over and over again is very dark.
The question that I am asked again and again and which I was asked again today is:
“Why
I would not forget the past 6 years?”
There are great threats included most times with that question.
After all, my life was threatened very literally numerous times, once I was just an hour and a little cream from death itself, and those who threatened my life and still do will get away with it for sure, not only forgotten but helped to be forgotten.
And sometimes
There is great innuendo of promise that the present troubles would pass, if only I would forget.
And I reply as always,
That the past 6 years have been so poignant and transformed me in ways I even now cannot fully comprehend,
That to forget them would be to cut out a part of life,
a part of life that would leave me maimed, unable to heal.

Now most people’s predictable response would be first not to forget, but to remember … and to hate vociferously.
To which I respond,
That I certainly could choose to end it all with hate, it is in fact a natural response for every human.
But I choose not to hate, for hate is a viciously hungry monster which does not stop at just one thing, but wreaks havoc in all of life, even consuming all hope.
Just as lying does to those who lie, to those who condone it, and the children who are taught to lie impeccably?


There are views of great beauty out there, all around. If one recognizes beauty then giving in to hate sits too close to corrupting that beauty. Hate permeates and destroys especially beauty.
I have struggled my whole life to not allow hate to be part of me, as I certainly do now in the face of the past six years, not least of all the lies of the past three years in Court, and the injustice dealt me because of them.
I have struggled so that I know no other response than to remember clearly what is the truth of these past six years (not to be disillusioned nor gaslit into accepting the lies as if they were truth) and to continue to learn … and above all to forgive. Forgiveness is to remember and to accept what has happened, and to behave as if the transgression had not ever happened.
Forgiveness is not easy, not natural, and most certainly not inexpensive.
I have and I will continue to strive to forgive even my enemies and to pay the price of forgiveness.
Thus so I have answered …
and always I make clear that I have chosen
First
To protect the children
From the same abuse that, if not already, will surely be put to them …
And the same death that was put to me, from which they are at risk.

As for you, what will you choose, no matter the circumstance of your life?
Will you choose to forget, to deny life to be remembered, both the goodness and the evil of it?
Will you choose to allow yourself to hate? To be consumed in a course that has no end but to destroy those you hate and those you love, and even yourself?
Or will you choose the most difficult course forward, to remember fully and to forgive,
And to pay the price, whatever is taken from you?
Even if it be your health and all means to feed yourself and protect yourself from the elements which will be taken from you?
Even if you certainly will face an early death in poverty, though you could still share so much with the living, those who will survive you?

At that price would you, will you forgive?
So that you can hope?
Will you honour your own life by upholding truth?
Will you with forgiveness inspire others to remember the truth, to act on the truth, to trust the truth?

Each person can make one small piece of truth survive. Will you do so, starting today?
Will you be better than you would otherwise be, simply by forgiving that which is unforgivable?
Will you forgive, if for no other reason than by it the children will live, for only by forgiveness can the darkness be survived?

As for me, the question that I keep asking myself is simply this:
How can I inspire people, good and evil, to do the good that they would want to do?
For them to know the truth and hold on to it for the sake of all, to build great, great hope, even in one small corner, their own small corner.

Honour. Honesty. Truth. Hope.
All relies on grace,
And only God can create this grace out of God’s love for us all,
Sinners as we all are,
and we can but trust it is all possible, even in us,
since God makes us also simultaneous saints.
Is it possible in you?


Even in the greys, whites and blues of winter there are other great colours to find and celebrate,
green and orange amidst the white of the birch.
Surely God put some great colour in you?

Open to the Light

The Darkness is profound.
The Light still shines.
There is no evidence to indicate it will get better,
But only hope
That the light will shine brightly
And life will emerge from the twilight zone of black being white, and white being black.

Blue and Gold on White

The mode of entry into this real world is simple: skis on snow.

There are past trails covered by the recent 6” and then 2” snow falls of moisture laden snow.


One covered trail heads straight to the light going down.

There are others that have circled around looking for fish beneath the ice.
Nice
But one rolls the dice
Whether it will be tomorrow enough
Nice ice.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness
There are really terrible things that people do to other people.

In life these terrible things sometimes stick out above everything else.

There are really terrible things that have been done to me, lies that have been told, and the effects have been devastating.
There are much worse things that are done to others, that have been done to others through history.
As for me: I used to have assets of $350k before, and $250k after.
It was not much of a retirement since I was always a stay at home dad, but it was something, and I freely gave that $100k, or so I thought, because I trusted what I was told: that I brought joy, life and health to others.

Now, directly because of the lies told about me, I have growing debt and no assets, except a bicycle, my clothes, a tent, a sleeping bag. My reputation is in tatters. No one will hire me. Everything that sustains my physical living in the harsh environment of winter is borrowed. Everything that allows me to drink and eat and move and comply with sentences against me is borrowed. Everything and every minute is given to me as gift. So I am still standing. I am still breathing. I am still able to see, record and share the light and the infinite breaking in on our finite existence. But every day everything is borrowed. Or maybe it always has been, and we just make up that we possess things, instead of being loaned them by those around us.

What I did ought to be lauded. I ought not to be judged or condemned or sacrificed or sentenced.
I forgave.
I forgave because I could not allow myself to hate.

I forgive because I will not allow myself to hate.
“Hate is a very big, very hungry thing with lots of very sharp teeth and it will eat up your whole heart and leave no room left for love. We are lucky that God understands this. He is the one that will hand out the punishment so that we do not have to carry all this terrible hate inside of us, if we do not want to, if we are willing to forgive.” From the movie Amish Grace.

We Lutherans proclaim a very powerful Gospel, a Gospel that God loves us unconditionally, that God extends free Grace and Forgiveness to us, no matter what we do, good or evil, so that we can live freely.
We are not free to be whatever we wish to be, but free to respond to such amazing Grace given to us by offering grace and forgiveness to others, no matter what they do, good or evil.

Forgiveness
does not
and cannot
come easily
or
cheaply.

It is costly.

Forgiveness is so costly, sometimes more costly than we could imagine.

My forgiving has cost me …
everything.

An acquaintance wrote me: “You are a love-worthy person and I am glad I met you.”

Everyone is a love-worthy person.
And this is why and how God graciously forgives us, so that we can see each other as worthy of love.

What do you see today?
Who do you see today?
How do you see today?

Do you see with a heart consumed by hate?
Or
Do you see with a heart graciously forgiven and made capable of forgiving and loving in spite of what evil is done to you?

See the light

by following the darkness of the shadows.

 

Celebrate the light.
by seeing the light in all that is every-day.

Share the light

by showing the big picture to others, by showing how the light has lit up your path.


All our light comes from the holy infinite God all gracious loving one who gives us life, and breath.

So breathe.

Be gracious
and forgiving
especially of your enemies,

as well as yourself.

Everything is borrowed, given to us for a short time.

“Wir sind alle Bettler.”

MLuther

Cold Recovery

Cold Recovery

While it hits a low of -34°C and lasts a few nights
The cold is about to let up.

It’ll warm up to just -4°C.
And then sink at night to -17°C.

This is a little recovery from the Cold, welcome by most,

Or one could hope that the infection commonly known as a cold
will be the recovery that is coming.

Yet there are bigger recoveries that would benefit so many people would they happen.

There are so many people that know the recovery needed.

Just a little light, that’s what we need, a light to shine truth and hope and grace for us all.


In the trees the light takes the bite out of the bark with soft warm golden shine.
Shine light shine!

 

Near the water,
drawn full down by the spin of the earth into the clouds,

the light lets hope shine even as
it is about
to disappear through the cold of the night.

 

Even in the setting sun the wonder is still there,
Reflecting on the snow

And drawing us onward
Toward the horizon,
Toward what will come
After the darkness,
When the light returns and shines
the truth
all ways.

It may be cold.
It may be dark for a while.
But it will be light.
It will be filled with hope.
It will be filled with truth.

And it will be filled with Grace,

For all.

Who knows the light, the truth, the only reason for hope?
Who can speak and set the record straight?

Who can, who will?

What is dark will always be made clear in the light.

Who can, who will set foot in the light?

Who will step out of the shadows and give witness to the light and truth?

Indomitable Life in the Deep Cold Darkness

Indomitable Life in the Deep Cold Darkness

The cold of this past week was unrelenting.

Yes it got to -35°C. Not just once for a few hours but twice, staying below -30°C for long, cold, dark hours. And during that time there was no furnace that would run, taken down by a what, or was it a who? With repairs two nights distant, two deep cold dark nights away.

Yes, there are more than a few people who know some of the truth of what has been done to me xxxx but that I am under threat if I speak the truth (the xxxx indicate phrases I needed to delete). Most people have believed the lies told about me: they think that I am some kind of monster that is portrayed nowadays in film and tv as the ultimate male gone amok  x x x x.

I am nothing of the sort.

I am a person who at great cost to myself has practiced unconditional love for those closest to me  x x x x 

I am a person practiced in bringing others to experience Grace, even in the midst of the brokenness of their lives, often after surviving the death of loved ones, even by suicide.

Yet I am told, repeatedly, that I have done what I have not done, that I am a person I am not and have never been nor would ever allow myself to become.

 X x x x

How is this even possible?

That impossibility become real is the deep dark cold that corrupts and consumes the goodness in life, not just for me and those close to me, but for everyone who encounters this dark cold.  X x x x  Our sense of truth is so assaulted and violated that it will be a miracle  x x x x  if anyone is left capable of receiving and then giving unconditional love.

Grace is such a miracle, and grace requires human hands and hearts to carry it and deliver it, to reflect it as light … to show by example that Grace does exist … unconditionally for us all.

 

Yet in spite of the unrelenting deep cold darkness

I stand, surviving the cold, by faith through grace alone.

Who will stand with me?

Or

Who will continue to stand against me?

There are so many people who know a piece or two of the truth which would make obvious the lies told about me. There are a few people who know so much truth about the lies being told about me. If only one or two people came forward with the truth they know, the lies could not continue to ruin lives all around; and the conglomerations of lies are not innocent; they have already brought people to their deaths; they will bring more people to their deaths by their own hands.

 

Who will you be, in the face of the deep, cold, darkness that invades your lives?

Will you be an agent of Grace, or one who impedes others knowing Grace is also for them?

 

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
“Because I was not a Socialist.

“Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
“Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
“Because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Martin Niemoller from Wikipedia

“Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (German: [ˈniːmœlɐ]; 14 January 1892 – 6 March 1984) was a German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor.[1][2] He is best known for a widely-paraphrased statement which he made in different versions, one of which is “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Socialist. … Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me.” [see above.]

He was a national conservative and initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler,[3] but he became one of the founders of the Confessing Church, which opposed the Nazification of German Protestant churches. He vehemently opposed the Nazis’ Aryan Paragraph,[4] but made remarks about Jews that some scholars have called antisemitic.[5] For his opposition to the Nazis’ state control of the churches, Niemöller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1938 to 1945.[6][7] He narrowly escaped execution. After his imprisonment, he expressed his deep regret about not having done enough to help the victims of the Nazis.[4] He turned away from his earlier nationalistic beliefs and was one of the initiators of the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt.[4] From the 1950s on, he was a vocal pacifist and anti-war activist, and vice-chair of War Resisters’ International from 1966 to 1972.[8] He met with Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War and was a committed campaigner for nuclear disarmament.[9]

Wikipedia about Martin Niemöller

Who are they coming for today, for whom you do not speak out?

 

What do you see around you?

The COLD and the DARK settling in again?

 

 

OR

 

GRACE and BEAUTY of light, the light that brings truth even in the darkness?

 

 

Can you find the path to the light?
The light that rises indomitably even in the deep dark cold.

 

The path is never straight, and often meanders at many crossroads on its way to the light.

 

We can be no more than ones who reflect the light of Grace. And sometimes when we have so little life left in us we can at most point in the deep, dark, cold to where the light is reflected, to others who reflect the light.

 

 

Then, by the reflected light, we can show others the path …
The path that winds its way toward home,
home where the infinite meets our finite lives,
turning everything upside down, inside out
and
warm with the goodness of life,
the indomitable life
given to us all by Grace.

 

And we are left able in the cold to walk on water,

 

for there is no other choice.

 

 

Most every path we tread is covered
with water,
frozen water,
snow and ice.

Miracles of indomitable life often only occur in the face of the deepest, darkest, coldest ….

 X x x x

40° … minus 40° or lower

The thermometer only goes to -40°. It was there well before sunrise this morning.

Frosted the view.

If something breaks it’s broke and I’m a gonner.

That’s the price of loving and always telling the truth, the inconvenient truth.

But the view, as long as you can stand to look, is wonderful.

Wish I had more time.