Quick Story Before I Dash Off To Class

For some reason I want to write today - to tell nothing deep, nothing stirring, nothing expansive that makes my already large head swell to greater girths. (I'm sorry - that really did sound nicer in my head - looking at it now - not so much) I want to tell a story, but as always happens when I want to tell a story I get befuddled, and feel like - oh how does Wodehouse put it -
"Alf Todd," said Ukridge, soaring to an impressive burst of imagery, "has about as much chance as a one-armed blind man in a dark room trying to shove a pound of melted butter into a wild cat's left ear with a red-hot needle."
And so I'm left "groping in Egyptian-like darkness" trying to dig out a story. And I think this is the mark of the amateur vs the professional storyteller. The Professional can perform, he controls the expression of his art. The amateur has to react to the stories within him. He cannot create a mood and atmosphere for his work - he can enhance - he can increase - but it has to be there. The story almost comes out of his mood, where the evenings fellowship and food has put him. He is relaxed, amongst people he likes or wants to like, the story he shares is a good one - he's told it endless times, each a little different, little unique details are highlighted - and expounded upon. The story grows with the telling, he reacts to his audience, enjoying the smiles, the head shakes, the laughs - connecting with them in ways that he is often to shy to in normal conversation. And the story's are fun to tell - in fact - they are enjoyed most when shared. They are like paintings that need to be looked at, teas that need to be sipped, or meals that need to be savored. Otherwise they are just empty tins, that gather dust, and know that they could hold the world. Seek out the story tellers - the old ones you know - you will bring them so much joy, you will be girded, and built up, they will be refreshed and energized. Let them tell their stories - be that audience for them. I've found that stories - good stories - tend to stick to those that hear them. They stick in odd, out of the way spots, lost and forgotten till one day when you need them they reappear. They can startle you, and comfort you, and convict you. Listen and learn, share and learn, live with those around you. Don't hoard your stories, they are not just for you, in some ways they are bigger, grander, and better than you could ever be. I'm starting to see, to understand - that sometimes - more often than I think I believe - sometimes that - No . . . let me put it another way - how often have I seen or of heard some experience of a friend, of a coworker, an acquaintance and learned something totally different from it than that person. Seeing what happened thru my eyes, thru my understanding, thru my experience - this is not to say that truth is relative, that the facts change depending on where you stand. That is simple "dammed nonsense" to quote Lewis - the truth is truth regardless how you feel about it. Your reaction to truth will be different depending where you stand. A train is coming - one man might move, the other might cover his ears - the train is coming - that is fact, what was different was where they stood in regards to the truth. I learn lessons from what happens in my life, but the things I go thru are not for me alone to learn from. I need to share the truth - A train was coming - I got out of the way. Others may learn something totally different, or apply it in a totally different way. I need to "share the comfort I've received" I need to share the lessons I've learned, I need to tell my stories of warning, my stories of comfort, my stories of affliction, and not just for the audience, not just for you. I need to tell them for me - like I said the story varies with each telling and each time they are told, some new facet glimmers in the light of the Lords truth, and I receive a deeper understanding of Gods grace, and love for me. At the same time the stories would be meaningless if they did not compel me to change what I do, and why I do them. Stories should bring comfort, as well as conviction. Life changing comfort, coupled with life changing conviction. The Lion lies down with the Lamb, I often think that the Lion becomes lamb-like, but this is - and I love how Chesterton puts it
"That is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb."
We forget while the Lion lies down with the Lamb, the Lamb is also lying down with the Lion, what kind of bad-ass Lamb would an equally bad-ass Lion not eat. That comfort and conviction are equals in God's eyes and He will use both to draw us to Himself. (I feel compelled to point out that the whole Lion and Lamb analogy goes way, way, way deeper than my ramblings here)

My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Wow . . . I've rambled on halfway into my ME 414 class, so much for the quick note I guess, no story either . . . I've rambled on far too long . . . and . . . yeah

Have a good day - take a long walk in the autumnal air - listen . . . . don't take the I-pod, don't take a book - turn your cell phone off (unless you're a female in a big city, and if that's the case stay alert, aware of your surroundings)

Read the first part of Colossians . . . . . or don't (it's really good, so savor it)

. . . read the rest of Colossians . . . . . . or don't,

But whatever you do, don't just read it, listen to it, hear the story.

I take that back, even if you are not going to listen to it, read it.


Mondays - always bigger than I imagine

The pictures are from the weekend spent in Yakima, but the post deals with yesterday. Deals with Monday. With an unplanned Monday. A Monday spent at school, at work, at home,missing a study group to spend time on much more important things, watching TV, drinks at Rico's - fellowship at Rico's - fellowship which lifts the heart - sharing stories of life with brothers, praying with men, praying for each other. I love the people God has put into my life, where he has placed me, when he has placed me, how he has blessed me, the tasks he has set before me. Lately the tasks have included among other things waiting - I'm in a period of waiting - I know what it is that I'm to do - wait.

Waiting is not always interesting right away. In fact it's not till I'm rescinded to the fact that I'm going to have to wait that I start to see what it is that is around me. I only know that there are 84 tiles in the Waiting Room 2C at the Group Health Clinic in Federal Way because I've had to wait in there. I only know that there are 9 chairs at Jiffy Lube because I've waited there. I only know that the hot tub at the south street house turns on every 25 minutes because I've waited there. There is so much I don't realize that I'm unaware of till I wait and get board and start to look at life merely to see it as it is. To count the black tiles at Safeway, to estimate the amount of jelly for jelly donuts needed in the US on a daily basis, to gain perspective on situations. To test the heart, and the head. To flush out motives, and desires, and peering into them, seeing if they are sound.

I don't foresee anything changing - rather a deepening of understanding, a grounding and securing. I see it happening without my even looking for it. It is so exciting and scary, and wonderful all at once. Scary is not the right word - how about a peaceful preoccupation, and tense anticipation - not knowing how the future will turn out - but not worrying about it either - not worrying because it is in far better hands then mine.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Considering Epaphroditus - and Greenhouses

Yesterday - during a midday break I wandered into a green house - I've been doing a lot of exploring around campus - trying to find secret spots, little lost hideaways. I found a rather large tunnel on campus, shots to follow soon. But yesterday was spent mostly in this green house on the 7th floor of some building somewhere. Greenhouses always remind me of a store back home called Fernies - the heat, humidity and the scent of growing things. I like greenhouses - for some reason I feel very cultured when I'm in one.

I keep finding more and more parts and pieces. New truths and insights daily - hourly - part of me enjoys this - this learning and processing and the understanding and comfort that it brings - another part of me just wants to go to bed. Parts of me just want to figure out life all at once and be done with the confusing bits, other parts of me see that what I have been given drives me back to the source - looking for understanding and for peace. Thank goodness that we are given no more than what we can bear. And that is not to say that life has been unbearable - far from it!
Life is new in a strange way I'm sure most won't understand - I know I don't - Hebrews 12 and Philippians 2 have been running thru my mind - back and forth - the example of Epaphroditus - how few men I can call brothers, fellow workers and fellow soldiers - and not because they were lacking but because I did not let them in - did not work with them or fight for them. How many have I taken for granted and not honored. Squandering relationships, letting them go. Connecting with people means opening up, and hurting with them, for them. Walking thru life with them, being with them where they are. I want to understand people - to see the hurt in empty eyes and hurt too - to understand and be understood. To share the comfort I've received a thousand times over. It can be so easy not to let that lull in the conversation take place - that spot where people are getting ready to really connect with you. To ask and not really want an answer - to really listen is scary. Listen and hear - and then to DO something about it - because it stirs you - because it hurts, hurts to see friends fall, hurts to see them worried. Do I know you? Have we laughed, fought, cried, been honest, pondered, sung, listened, been listened to. To become a brother, a fellow worker, a fellow solider takes something in common, something shared - and to that extent we are all brothers - we all breath and sing and love and hurt. I want to pour myself into these people around me, I can't change the world - I can barely get my own act together. I can do nothing - only share the comfort I've received. But what is that - sharing comfort? How is that even done? As a brother I look out for my two younger sisters - sometimes comfort is the talk over coffee, a hug or a movie - sometimes it is calling them on something - telling them that they are wrong and need to make amends - it's complicate and simple - easy and hard - it's the right thing.


Ok I'm really having way too much fun with this hobby

I had a free morning today - nothing planned - so I planned on shooting a sunrise with Snook (he does not know it but I'm a little intimidated by his skill and general know-how, not to mention his great portraiture skills), and after that hitting the gym with Jonathan. The sun did not greet us, nor did the gym open its doors - so we all went on a photoing adventure.

Our 45 minute sunrise session turned into a five hour tour. Pictures, music, hiking, mud, old equipment, fields, dirt roads, scat - lots of scat, uncured pork made from contented pigs, organic beets, expensive chocolate, the Co-op, Moscow, Pullman, water towers and over cast skies - it was a busy day!

I keep coming back to that line from Chesterton dealing with courage,
.. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying...

I was reminded today that for anything to succeed, to truly succeed - failure must be a possibility, that we can't live life afraid to fail, so afraid that we don't live. And that when I'm at those places where life requires action, where it demands action, and I find my feet and spirit hesitant and reluctant, it's this "strange carelessness" I find myself drawing upon. It requires that I turn a deaf ear to myself, and listen to something deeper, older, wiser, stronger and quieter. It's separating what you know from what you feel. And so the process starts - examining what you know, and testing what you feel. And in the midst of the storm, the howl of the gale, that "strange carelessness" finds its source - when you can paddle no more, when you "drop anchor and pray for daylight"

All in all a really good day!


Solitude . . . of a Sort

Solitude is odd - odd for me anyways. I really enjoy solitude, and I think what I enjoy most about it - if I truly examine what I find so attractive about it, is control. I wonder if the same thing that draws the anorexic to shun food, is the same mechanism which drives me inside myself. And herein lies the dilemma, the odd part of solitude, what I have found this last week. I enjoy solitude more when it is shared. All the pleasures it provides, it's comforts, it's strengths, grow richer and deeper when shared. Just being quite with friends, talking, musing, thinking - but then it is no longer solitude, it's more like what I want life to be. I'm comfortable with my own company - perhaps too comfortable, stepping outside of that - it's like knowing there is - there

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. Shall I not call God the Beautiful, who daily showeth himself so to me in his gifts?"


Dancing in the Moonlight

After a long day at the end of a long weekend, at then end of a long week I went for a long drive. Driving to think, to listen. I had a lot of long talks this week and by long talks I mean long talks and long listens. Some people talked about their lives, their loves, their fears, their worries, their woes. Others just wanted to hangout, and forget life for awhile, to digest thoughts and feelings. Over lunch, over beer, in the car, over coffee, on the phone, talking, sharing, processing life. Some trenches are deeper than others, some are familiar to me and some are not. You don't have to have fallen down every trench to toss someone a rope, you don't have to be out of every trench to tell which way is up. I drove to process all I had taken in, drove, listened to Nina Simone, and prayed. Driving, just driving, and listening. Thinking, processing, praying. Lots of prayer these days. Lots of driving too. It is cathartic, and expensive. But it works. I drove to the top of the Lewiston Grade and just looked out at the lights of the city. The breeze coming up from the valley was warm compared to Pullman, and as I stood overlooking the city with all its lights spread out beneath me, my car blaring jazz tunes, my camera taking long exposures, I sang and I danced. It was a gimpy, hobbling dance, that I'm sure might have been mistaken for an epileptic seizure, or drunken revels. For an hour it was just me, Nina and the moon. Sometimes I danced, sometimes I sang, sometimes I just sat and listened. Listened to the wind, to the music, processing all my conversations in ways I don't even begin to understand.

I could type all night and not even begin to understand how I work
It's late - I should go to bed


Gimping around Idaho

Clarity comes slowly sometimes, only after much work, introspection, and reflection. And sometimes it happens in a moment, in a flash, you might not be able to say what brought it about, what caused it – but it happens – abruptly – explosively - startling you - catching you off your guard. And what was a dim thought, a cloud no bigger than your hand – suddenly is so much more. You see where you stand, laughing because it’s not where you thought you stood, but where you’ve always been. You distrust this clarity, it came on so sudden, and so strong. Will it evaporate just as quickly? Is it false? You wait, hoping to gain perspective and understanding, all the while fearing the unknown.

Strange how knowledge can create more questions than answers at times. And not even the questions you thought it would. Knowledge is so different from understanding, and understanding from action. They are all connected, but by what or how I don’t fully comprehend or appreciate. How often have I found knowledge insufficient to cause my actions to change, how often has my understanding been at conflict with my head and with my heart. But clarity comes, knowledge is found, and the world is a different place. Or rather different from what you thought it to be. And seeing how it is and where you stand in it means that you can move, and you can change.