In, Over My Head

“God” means different things to different people.  “A higher power” … For some He is more.  For some He is less.

Over my head.  I am there.  Some days, more than others.  A while back, I hiked up to Falcon, a place not too far with a view.  I was in over my head.  Usually, I came to Falcon to ignore, to avoid, that haunting possibility.  On this occasion, I was angry about being in over my head.  I hiked off the trail to find a rocky ledge.  I looked upward, thinking about the expression, “the heavens”.  Somewhere beyond the blue and the clouds were, apparently, the elusive and unseen heavens.  I continued to stare into the sky, considering  an equally and unseen God who resided, somewhere past the sky, past the heavens, or … in the far end of the heavens.  The God, in the midst of the good things, the beauty, and at the same time in the midst of the chaos, the anger … poking me, the pain never far away.  The One I was angry with.  I couldn’t get to Him … at least that was my perspective from the rocky ledge, somewhere on Falcon.  He had the sky and clouds, the “heavens”, separating me from Him.  I raised my fist, and challenged Him.  I asked, “Where are you, God?  You are too busy for me, eh?”  I waited.  Silence.  The air, not much movement.  Trees waited with me, sharing the stillness.  A breeze came toward me, as if I had called it, which I had not.  The breeze reached me, and moved past me, over my face, my forehead, through my hair, past my arms … hair a bit ruffled.  What came next was a strong wind that changed to a fierce wind, and changed to a wind that pushed me, like fingers from a strong hand, an intimidating man challenging me, because of something I said.  The power with which I shook my fist, on the rocky ledge, had moved on with the breeze, slipping past me.  I had stepped down from the ledge, and positioned myself between two boulders, looking for shelter.  Words came to me, not from me.

"I am here."

"You really don't know much about Me, or what I do."


"By the way, I'm glad we've had this talk."

These days I still feel like I am in over my head when I think about what it means to love, to hope for good, to focus less on my self than others, to not worry, to give away my critical stuff, my isolation, to be nice and honorable and teachable.  But, I am more careful about going up to Falcon, who I shake my fist at.

 

 

 

 

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What Do We Know?

It’s been a good-tough week.  From a weathered paperback, essays on spirituality and encouragement, I read in the back, a page I had forgotten about: a few thoughts, a few dates.  “October 3rd 1993.  Arrived in Antarctica” … 

Image result for images C-130 with skis
A cargo plane with “big skis”, like the ones our cargo jet used … https://aviation.stackexchange.com/q/26960
Image result for Images Antarctica map
https://www.amazon.com/Teacher-Created-Resources-Antarctica-Chart/dp/B00207H856

 

Image result for Images map New Zealand South Island
Map of New Zealand, South Island. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:South_island_map.png

We came on an Air Force cargo jet … equipped with massive skis. (The picture shows a cargo plane with “big skis”, like the ones our cargo jet used).   October 3rd of ’93 was the beginning of a five-month season of work for the National Science Foundation.  My residence at Willy Field on Ross Ice Shelf, the ice runway for incoming / outgoing planes, was where I cooked breakfast for scientists, US Navy personnel, and support staff (about 8,000 eggs by the time I left).   “February 22nd of 1994, last day on the ice.”   On that day, I had jumped on a Navy C-130, with those uncomfortable nylon mesh-strap seats, and left Antarctica.   Nine hours later, we touched down at a New Zealand Air Force base, Christchurch, New Zealand.  For the first time in five months I experienced rain, and nights, and seeing children, older people, dogs, green grass, restaurants, natural fragrances in the air, colors.  “March 8th 1994, left New Zealand for Denver” … reluctantly.  “March 22nd 1994, left Denver for the South, to see my parents for a bit.”  So, it just worked out that way, one month, after my last day on “the Ice” (February 22nd), I flew out of Denver March 22nd, to a small place in the South to spend a week with my parents.  October of 1994, I met my wife to be.”

A year after I got off “the Ice”, February 1995, I proposed to my future bride.  “June of 1995, Married a princess.”  After all this reflection, I am aware of my presence in the “here-and-now” … the present … today, in fact.  And I found my self thinking of two pieces in life we deal with:  1) reflection on our stories / journeys; and 2) where we are at, right now.  In my time of working with people, many of whom struggle with these two pieces, I have asked the question, “What do we know to be true?”.  I’m throwing that out to any who are visiting the Other Side of the Trees, perusing this post.  I believe the answers to “What do we know to be true?” are quite different.  Here is what I have come up with.

Image result for Images Antarctica
Adele (pronounced uh-deli) penguins. https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/Antarctica

My story is not yet finished.

My story is still being written.

My story (specific elements) needs to be told (to the right people, at the right time, in the right context).

I need to hear the stories of others.

I have the capacity to love; the choice to love well; and I face the reality that I do not always love well.

I have journeys ahead; or, shall I say … the journey continues.

I need good, encouraging, safe, relationships in my life.

I have hope … but, similar to love, I do not always hope “well”.

I have something to offer; and I have a great amount to learn.

I need vision; I need goals; I need enthusiasm; I need wisdom – – – not just intelligence.

And, lastly for today, I am here.

Image result for images I am here

Well, enough said, for now.  I always write more that I should, more than I intended.  I hope this finds you all experiencing peace, joy, and good health.

 

 

 

 

Oreos, Dreams, Realities

Image result for Images Oreos‘Couple of Oreos in the night after a disruptive dream. I could not quite remember the details. The Oreos were amazing.  A son, undisputedly handsome with a good, a noble, heart, intelligent, awareness of his world sharper than a sword, gifted in a way that he did not ask for, bringing him intermittent sorrow, coexisting with joy, a sense of humor, robust imagination, warrior spirit.  I had my share of wounds, lost at times in a world that moves much faster than I can grasp, my own creativity I cannot get to, I look for trails but they are unfairly elusive.  I found myself grieving for a man who was and is a legend, who loved well, lived well, laughed well, my friend and my dad.  But none of the dream was a dream.  Reality has a great deal of mystery, at times.

I was walking with a woman, swirled in beauty with blonde hair and with unfathomable wisdom, a saint of a mother with the spunk to tell me when I was wrong, who married me in spite of me and my wounds and groaner jokes.  Two younger ones looked up to me with love and respect, and I was confused by that: a daughter with eyes that can see into the depths of the journey, the hearts and souls of others; my son who creates so many things, his laughs radiate outward and inward toward others.  I stood in Scotland at the castle Dunnotar, and at the Loch Ness hoping for a glimpse of Nessie, the Loch Ness “monster”.  I walked along the ice road between McMurdo Station and Willy Field (camp) in Antarctica.  I sat in the Christchurch Cathedral, putting together some pieces, there at the Christchurch Square.  But the dream was not a dream.  They are sparkling realities and memories I keep close.

The Soul Is Restless

http://quotesgram.com/restless-quotes/

Image result for Images quotes restless

Nights, sometimes endless …Inside, a burning fever, a fever of fearing the future, but longing for more … a fever summoning me from the slumber I cherish. I feel like there is something wrong.    This is not where I am supposed to be.  This is not the way life is supposed to be, a paradox, accentuated by that quote: “The hardest place to be, is right where you’re at.”

It takes an effort to go into the place, metaphorically a small storage shed, where some thoughts might need to be tweaked or discarded; where emotions need to be checked; where self-pity needs to be conquered, left on the battlefield for the wild animals to feast on …    And a question that resurrects me from my restless soul: “What do I know to be true?”  I know that I am a good man, that I do have what it takes.  I know that I do have hope, passion … That they are not gone.  They just to be tapped  and released.  There is a process.  And it is part of my calling to be faithful to the process, and there is some mystery in the process.  That’s okay.  And a restless soul is not always a bad thing.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291256300875681301/

Paris

Paris fighter jets hammering Raqqa with bombs. 7 darkened souls tracked down in Belgium. Suicide bombers being identified. There is still loss in Paris. I am haunted and humbled. My day: get up on time, make it to church. Pick up kiddos, 2:30, after weekend youth retreat. Walmart prescription. Home; laundry; wood in for the stove because some snow’s coming; get the fire going, get the kiddos dinner. Be a good husband; be a good dad; try to make something out of this old, weathered, life, that will hold some redemptive value. Then I think about Paris: hellishness-trauma-loss-violence-fear. I was driving east down Bowles in 1999 April 20th in Littleton, CO. and saw a SWAT unit, not one not two but three, and so many police cruisers-different counties … I turned on the radio: there was a massacre going on at Columbine High School about 10 minutes away, just off Bowles. In 2001, September the 11th I was at work, Denver Rescue Mission, watching on the two massive TV screens in the auditorium, two planes crash into the towers. A report came in, as I stood by Jon Gettings, that the fourth plane had been hijacked. Jon slowly looked at me …“It’s still going on.” Yes, It is still going on. Different ways, different places, different times, but loss follows, and fear, and confusion, pain, anger. I pray, I grieve, I hope, and … I don’t know what else to do. I still have to work. I continue to love my wife, my kids; and I continue to go out and get three or four trips of wood for the stove. God help me, to not get numb, desensitized. And help me to do what I need to do. And help the good guys wipe out the bad guys.