It’s A Little Cold

It’s a Little Cold Out
As I write this the temperature has dropped to minus 27 Celsius and it’s going to continue dropping says the forecast until it’s minus 30.
I did survival training years ago NW of Hinton. We mimicked what it would be like to be downed in an airplane with passengers needing to survive for 36 hours. Tea, the first medicine after the physical injuries were tended to, and then build a shelter for the night. Minus 20 the first night with a partner. Minus 30 the second night, solo. Third night was an all-natural shared shelter for everyone except the instructors, who slept next to a wood stove in a full shelter.
After the last night, of smoke from the shared fire, and little sleep, the thermometer was pegged below minus 40 on my rotary thermometer the next morning a few hours after sunrise.
So yesterday at minus 21, with camera in hand, with a down parka zipped up, a wool hat, simple jeans, warm boots and light enough gloves to feel the camera easily … and a great tripod, I simply enjoyed the ventures out from the warm vehicle to capture these precious photos, a profound beauty and reminder of days before the current hell I’m caught in and working to save others more vulnerable.
It’s not that it was terrific then, it’s just purgatory was decidedly not like this, and despite any temperature, what I’m working to set right, who I’m having to work to keep safe, or at least mitigate permanent damage to, the vulnerable, this kind of hell just does not seem to know beauty or truth or faith or love or hope or … well in a word, this hell has no place for the beauty of grace, the grace that saves us all.
So here they are in the same silence that I encountered them, absolute silence, with only the squeak and press of snow stepped into and upon, and breath … o precious breath that only now I have again … o precious breath that now again I have so that I can speak … well sort of.

Enjoy the beauty: for this cold is not hell, it is simple beauty, without flies or bites, a beauty that permeates everything.

Enjoy the beauty: for this as God created it and us to be; still standing, even through the hell and the cold.

 

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

Copyright Tim Lofstrom 2017

Epiphany in the New Year

Epiphany

This is the day that we remember that

The light breaks in wondrously

In the darkness

That over

Whelm

S

All

That

Is and can be

Until

 

As in 1930 in Savanah Georgia

In the darkness of the Great Depression

As real life shrunk

So small

The lines for soup

Kept millions alive

As

A game of golf provided hope

And a shell shocked Captain Junuh

Was lead into the light

To see the field by a caddy

Baggar Vance

Who for $5

Knew it was not beginning to be embarrassing,

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

And

Knew that for a purpose

Each one entered a simple game to surrender to what cannot be forced against a ball and a pin with a club

But like in life one surrenders to what one is called to be and do

Profound or not

To see

Mystically

What

Is

There

But

Others

Cannot

Know

For it is what one alone sees

The Light of Grace

Yet there was for so many so little

So little that can be done when all that is

is loss.

So we remember.

For generations there were always many who suffered at the hands of others looking to move ahead

At the cost of

Those around them …

And who betrayed those closest to them in order to get ahead as their loved one is left vulnerable

Because the beloved could not face the reality of the world that they created out of a profound fear of the light leaving them alone

So they attack

And whip others into a frenzy to attack their loved one for fictitious events

And the loved one is

Charged

Ruined

Left as good as dead

In the dark

Alone

Once again paying the price for being the one that loved unconditionally, and loves unconditionally.

So we remember.

Fortunately the darkness will not continue to overwhelm and leave one to die

For this day we remember that the Light breaks in

Through

All

That

Is broken

Spreading against all fears

Especially the imaginary ones of abandonment that haunt

Those

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

So we remember

The Light

Loves unconditionally and inspires

Simple statements of truth:

The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.”

 

Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.”

Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, Brian Kolodiejchuk, 2007

 

While seeking health and hope and renewal this was possible to capture the light from:

Big Horn Sheep Looking
Big Horn Sheep Looking

To what do you aspire?

Where are you looking this day?

What hope carries you

Through the darkness

Into the light

That arrives through the cracks of life and being and love itself?

 

So we remember that

As for me and my household we will serve the Lord,

For by grace alone are we able to stand when we are alone in the darkness waiting for the Light of truth and justice to arrive.

So we remember

That

There

Is

Light.

 

Can you remember?

Can you see?

Do you remember the light of unconditional love?

It is Epiphany,

The day we remember

That the Light of Grace, Truth and Love

Illuminates every darkness

From the spark

Within

The

Holy Ones

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

This we remember

Is

How

God’s

Grace

Is

For

Everyone

Even those

Who ruin

Their loved ones betrayed.

Can you remember this in your darkness?

What makes up your darkness this day of Light?

Whoever you are, the Light shines in the darkness,

So dance a dance of hope.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Saint Mother Teresa: Something Beautiful For God, Malcolm Muggeridge, 1971

 

And what is between you and God is not that you need to think, believe, speak, write, do or not all that is right for God,

But that because God has long since done everything right with you,

And made you

A Saint always, even as you remain always a Sinner

And not having to earn God’s unconditional love

What will you do this day? Or any day,

Other than to respond to the greatest news

That the world has or will ever hear

How will you approach each day?

Why other than

To seek justice when it is impossible, for it is already given to you.

To speak truth when it will never be heard, for even before you were born it was heard from your lips, between the cries that wrack your life unpredictably, unwanted, to not be denied.

To offer grace even though the response is cruel, for only by grace are you still standing.

To love unconditionally even though those loved are inseparably exiled from your love, protection and security, for already unconditional love met you and carried you each day past, present and future.

To find joy even though it has been ripped from your heart by jailers and rules, for the Ruler and Jailer has already met you with a joy in you, specifically you, and all that makes up you.

For you have been accepted as you are, equipped as a Saint, a person through which the Light shines.

So Shine even when it is declared that Darkness will not be denied.

Justice, truth, grace, unconditional love, joy, and shining Light:

This is what we are made to be made of.

This is our Game, no matter the goals we take on, this is our Game,

Which cannot be won by other than surrendering to what is,

To be Saints and forgive us the Sinners.

Beneath This Sky

Beneath this sky

Warm Sunset

Warm Sunset

One can stand

Or

Move

And take what is

And what is not that ought be

And what definitely ought not to be

And

Join them

Either with force and violence

Even if polite

Quiet

And manipulative

 

OR

Red Oncoming NIght
Red Oncoming NIght

By Grace

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

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

And

Set right what is wrong,

Bring light to what is hidden in darkness,

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

Clouds Dance at Their Time
Clouds Dance at Their Time

Here it is quiet

As snow and ice eat all waves

Of water

And sound

And one walks without miracle

On water,

Miraculous that one is still able to walk,

With or without the blessings of holy

Water

And

Being.

And the time to leave

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

Wide Sky Cold
Wide Sky Cold

And
Departs once again.

 

I am

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

I am.
I am a man.
I am a man who is still standing.
I am a man abused.
xxxxxx
I am a man who was abused first by the church.
That’s not uncommon, but sinfully common.
xxxxx
I am a man who is still standing, but standing in the face of what has been done to me, I am standing only by the Grace of God.
I am a man.
I am.
Last night we sat and watched Antwone Fischer, the movie, by Antwone Fischer, a true story about living with abuse as a man.
It was painful to watch, and see another man survive, be given opportunity to tell his story, and to work to heal.
This is not offered and possible for many men xxxxxx.
Perhaps it is more palatable for our culture to see a man deal with abuse suffered as a child, to watch him adapt, survive, grow and flourish as he comes into adulthood, with his whole adult life ahead of him.
xxxxxx

It’s pretty painful no matter how you cut it,
Painful to know if we switch just the genders around in true stories of men xxxxxx, the outcry of shock and dismay is almost without limit; but when the story is told with the genders as they are, xxxxxx, there is no outcry, just a concerted effort to make the man pay, with his honor, xxxxxx, with everything that can be taken from him.
And he is fair game for any lie that can be told, any attack that can be posted to social media.

Tonight we sat and watched Antwon Fischer, by Antwon Fischer, a true story about living with abuse as a man.
And I cried to know that someone else suffered …
Fought through,
Survived,
Flourished
And found someone who would believe him
Someone who kept him from being destroyed.
For all the men who are still standing:
May the Blessings of Christmas
(Of unconditional love, of scapegoating ended, of the promise of wholeness) and
May the Promise of the New Year
(of prosperity, truth, justice, grace, and hope)
Be yours.

The Wait is Over, Christmas is Here; the wait goes on

Christmas 2016

The Light of the world

Born as a baby in a manager

Will shine in all the darkness

And make known all that is hidden.

Christmas Trees
Christmas Trees

 

The celebration is here, the tree is decorated and lit

All natural and golden bright.

Path in the Snow
Path in the Snow

The path I must take

Has been trod by way too many before

Striving to bring health and hope.

Real Beauty, Real Truth, Real Christmas

Starting Advent:

We wait, taking in the celebration of light, looking through the lens of Grace that Jesus makes clear, hoping that this time, especially this time, God will come to us and set things right, before there is no more time to set things right,

That truth will be heard, the lies uncovered, life reset before the twilight zone came to visit my world.

But the world always resists Grace, since Grace comforts those disadvantaged, and disadvantages the comfortable.

There are things to see.

There are things to say.

There are truths which are being played with, and in the end the next generation learns that the lies are better than the truth.

It is like photography, everything is simple, even beautiful: until you realize something is being sacrificed: something precious; something basic and fundamental; something that seems …

Something so fundamental that there is nothing left if this is sacrificed.

We visited the mountains, to help me recover from acute bronchitis that just would not go away.

New Camper
New Camper

 

In the parking lot, a brand new camper compared to the ancient one we were using, having to fix it so it did not kill us.

There is something refreshing about breathing the mountain air.

But when it’s full of CO it puts a throbbing headache in the way and had I not opened the door so often that night ….

So this seemed a better option but not possible for us.

There were beautiful things,

beautiful light and snow on pine trees and clouds,

if you raised your head, which is always really hard to avoid.

Light
Light

On the way I caught the fog, again and again, and coming out of the fog is marvelous, for photographers, because the light … the light plays with reality to make it seem different, special.

Dull Fog
Dull Fog

It’s not always special; sometimes it’s just ordinary.

Light on the Road
Light on the Road

And then the sunlight hits the fog while the road flies by.

But then … then

It hits you.

See the Office
See the Office

And there are lots of shots that show its beauty that just hit you.

Light on Trees
Light on Trees

As you stop the light hits the trees.

Light on Trees 1
Light on Trees 1

And all that can be played with making it even more …

Light on Trees 2
Light on Trees 2

It looks great, even if it is not real.

Picnic
Picnic

But the picnic table is real.

 

 

 

Pyramid
Pyramid

Simple real in the early, early morning hours just as light starts to peak around the mountain air.

Pyramid 1
Pyramid 1

And Pyramid Mountain never looked so good, as the camera pushes through the darkness and the software reveals what the human eye could barely see.

And the software can make it look more than surreal, more than a cloudy mountain top with pines and fog, but how can more be really more when the reality is quite enough plus some?

Pyramid Real
Pyramid Real

Even if you have to wait a few hours for the sun to shine clear amid the clouds and shadows of late afternoon.

Simple skiing, now that’s real with the real mountains and clouds and snow laden pine trees … and the clear mountain air healing the bronchitis.

And that makes the waiting of Advent a waiting for truth, the truth God revealed on Christmas.

John the Baptist knew crazy but he never knew crazy, not crazy like I’ve had to suffer since ….

Breathe the fresh air.

Snow at the Lake

One can only enjoy the quiet and solitude

of mountains, snow, and water.

The Camper Gets Dusted
The Camper Gets Dusted

 

 

Call Home from Nowhere
Call Home from Nowhere
The Lakeview at the End of the Road
The Lakeview at the End of the Road
Red Canoe on the Way Down
Red Canoe on the Way Down
 Looking On
Looking On
Colour and Water
Colour and Water

 

More Colour and Water
More Colour and Water
The Island
The Island
Patterns
Patterns
Patterns Again
Patterns Again
Colour on the Way Out
Colour on the Way Out

Just a bit of fun, snow and lake and colour and …

A short walk.

That’s all for today.

Snowy Morning Pines and River

Snow by the Athabasca
Waking at the fresh hour of 9 the light snow falls everywhere around dampening the sounds, covering the views and clearing the mind … and making the photography some of my favorite: not cold at -2, not too wet, and diffused, specular light everywhere!

Path into the Woods
Path into the Woods
Deeper on the Path
Deeper on the Path

 

Knotty Tree
Knotty Tree

 

Pines with a View to the Foothills
Pines with a View to the Foothills

 

Pines and the Athabasca River
Pines and the Athabasca River

 

Up River
Up River

 

Down River
Down River

 

Path Down River
Path Down River

 

Path in the Pines
Path in the Pines

 

Path in the Pines 2
Path in the Pines 2

Quite often in life, how you orient yourself determines what you see, how you perceive it, and what you can do with it.
The same path, with a different perspective, is … enticing.
See the world as God’s invitation to engage and enjoy and provide care and beauty to others, all others.

And sometimes, taking a better view of the same thing produces a whole new understanding, and perspective.

Path in the Pines 2
Path in the Pines 2

Early Morning Mountains

Early Morning Mountains
Kathie needed something besides the ground to sleep on so she found this for a weekend to the mountains.

The basics upgraded, with highway sandings
The basics upgraded, with highway sandings

On the way it became obvious that a sway bar hitch was needed. As the roads became skating rinks at Hinton, traffic slowing to a crawl behind a smart semi driver, more than one slide and slip gave proof that this hitch more than paid for itself: without it we would have seen the ditch spinning out of control.

The Lifesaver: Getting Hitched Right
The Lifesaver: Getting Hitched Right

The unit had all sides, but the fantastic piece is this time of year the campground is deserted for the most part, and even after all the delays, we arrived, the third vehicle only in the campground. It’s mountain air, fresh, cool and quiet, next to a flowing river.

The Backside
The Backside

And me, the put it on your back or leave it behind, suddenly had on my back, well the back of my truck, a camper, not mine, to provide electricity, and warmth and comfort needed at these advanced years. And the freedom, freedom relative to the shakes, fatigue, weight loss, insomnia, and fear of the previous years … well the comparison is like night and day; death and life.

The Dark side, there’s always a dark side.
The Dark side, there’s always a dark side.

It took an awful lot of hard work to get this borrowed trailer ready for the trip, for use after being in moth balls for the last three years plus.
But here it is: all comfortable and well, pristine air in no short supply. And in the morning light, the views as always prove renewing. That’s something I’ve needed after the last 3 years. That was a darkside.

Coming Out of the Fog

This post was delayed, due to to a memory error. I’d tell you about it but I’ve forgotten what it was, something to do with WP Memory Limit.
Yesterday, driving in the early morning heavy fog, the sun started to poke through just ever so slightly and this flew by.
I stopped, pressed for time or not, to catch the light.
Can you catch light, really? Waves or particles, with bare hands, and hold it tight to own it?
Never, but one can take the light of the world through the yuck of crude meanness and, as Leonard Cohen taught me to say, celebrate the light that gets in just because of the cracks. Actually Chet Hoversten taught me to say it, in more Lutheran theological language, which has served me all my life: the Grace of God is not earned, but enters our lives, in spite of and just because we are broken people, and this Grace and favour given as a free gift, never earned, not even for believing the right things, transforms our lives, sets us free, establishes that God is for us no matter what, and then this Grace allows us to surrender and ask: so with this absolute freedom, given by none other than God, what am I going to do (what are we going to do) with this … this freedom, this life, this Grace, this unconditional forgiveness:
Are we going to try to control it and foist it on others: That is to create our own hell out of it, just saying.
Or
Are we going to try to codify it and foist it on ourselves and others: That is to create our own hell out of it, just saying.
Or
Are we, am I, going to simply ask each morning and each moment, how can I extend this Grace unmerited to as many people as possible this day, this moment?
Photography is easier, and more difficult: you can capture the light, and then share it. And as many know the worst weather often creates light that is the most spectacular, by being specular, and it makes possible some great photography.
Now, I was running hard, and just had fun, so this is not the BEST photography, it’s just fun, to be enjoyed:

The view that caught my eye
The view that caught my eye

 

The second readjustment that my rushed timeline allowed
The second readjustment that my rushed timeline allowed

 

The third readjustment
The third readjustment

 

The fourth and final take of light breaking in upon us
The fourth and final take of light breaking in upon us

The fourth and final … and I had to jump out of the freezing, fingers throbbing cold, without even time to put everything back in the cases and move on, hoping there’d be another take for the light. But within a few km the sun broke clear through from 2 hours in the sky and all that was left was to make the next deadline.
And later that night, falling asleep in my chair more than once I put the exposure bracketed files together with HDR and tweeked. So this is light and software and playing around with reality.
Not suggested to be done with God’s light in our lives. It already had endless exposures bracketed for us to see, and assembly by software or however is simply not helpful, nor needed to notice the awesome, amazing Grace …
For each of us.