Mudmen …

Image result for Eastern Highlands Province mapsImage result for Map Papua New Guinea On the other side of the trees, we have seen some beautiful, cloudless nights this week.  Clarity, to see things more clearly, frees us up to think.  So many times, what we are looking at is hiding what is real, what is authentic.  Fear is real, overt or covert.  Hidden fear takes on different identifiers.  These guys … the Mudmen … the Holosa …  live in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, outside a village, “Goroka”.  The story handed down, through four generations, is that an enemy tribe defeated the Asaro Holosa, who fled into the Asaro River. At dusk, the enemy saw them rise from the muddy banks covered in mud, and thought they were spirits.  The enemy fled in fear, and the Asaro Holosa escaped …   Related image

and returned to the village, not knowing the enemy tribesmen were still there. The enemy, terrified by what they saw, ran back to their own village and held a special ceremony to ward off the spirits.

The Mudmen could not cover their faces with mud;  the tribes of Papua New Guinea thought that the mud from the Asaro river was poisonous. So instead of covering their faces with mud (thought to be poison), they made masks from pebbles and muddied water, heated from fire.  The Asora Holosa became known as “the Mudmen”.   Image result for images mudmen The masks have unusual designs, such as long or very short ears either going down to the chin or sticking up at the top, long joined eyebrows attached to the top of the ears, horns and sideways mouths.   Masks emerged, for the Asora Holosa, to overcome their fear, and to hide their fear.  The Mudmen’s faces were also used to create fear in their enemies.  What we do in our own lives, to deal with our fears, oftentimes involves how we present ourselves. Masks play a role … masks of a different sort.  The Mudmen feared not only the enemy tribesmen; they feared mud … that led them to these grotesque masks.  I am not a Mudman, at least not in the conventional, original sense.  My masks are far more sophisticated.  My fears, more complex.  And yet, I am a man who moves out of my strength, my courage, out of a wounded and redemptive heart.  I move, from the Other Side of the Trees … then, back again.


Apathy: No Man’s Land


Image result for Images film “Fugitive”

Harrison Ford is Dr. Richard Kimble, a fugitive from the law, an innocent man falsely indicted for murdering his wife.  In the movie, “Fugitive”, Chief Deputy Marshall Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) relentlessly hunts Kimble.  Dr. Kimble slips down a storm drain, into the tunnels.  Gerard follows Kimble, slips in rushing water, drops his gun.  Dr. Kimble grabs the gun, points the pistol at Gerard: “I did not kill my wife!”.  Chief Deputy Marshall Gerard’s responds “I don’t Care!”  

The words “I don’t care” scream apathy, the opposite of love, a “no-man’s land”.  We have no business in the realm of apathy.  Adolescents I worked with years ago, removed from parents’ custody, often expressed: “I DON’T CARE!”, words that reflect apathy.  For kids living in a group home, the words are, in reality, a cry from within, a challenge: “Care for me!  I dare you.”  These kids had very few people to stick with them.  Case managers come and go; counselors come and go; group homes come and go.   Some of these kids would never be reunited with their parents.  When we hear apathy, something else might be happening.  An alternative to vulnerability is to raise a shield of apathy, for protection.  Apathy blocks an unwanted emotional reaction.  Like the angry adolescent living in a group home, longing to be loved, apathy can be a challenge:  “Do you really care?  Are you authentic, or a poser?  Or are you going to fade away?” Continue reading “Apathy: No Man’s Land”

Push, Pull

Push.  Pull.  The seen.  The unseen.   Choices come, choices made, choices fade; sometimes we don’t get it right.  

Image result for picture man pushing rock uphill

“We are all spinning plates. One is going to drop, eventually.” 

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink 

Related image The Far Side

Some calls, better than others; tension, inherent to life.  We must experience times and places of rest.  To rest in the thick of the push-pull is a worthy endeavor; a restorative adventure.  

“She stared at the stars like they were pillow for her mind and in their light she could rest her heavy head.”  Christopher Poindexter 

“Rest and be thankful.” Image result for quotes rest William Wordsworth  / 

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”  Alan Cohen / “Women show men beauty in things beyond their ambitions. Women tell men to stop and smell the roses.” Related image Chriss Jami, (from Diotma, Battery, Electric Personality)


“Don’t you simply love going to bed? To curl up warmly in a nice warm bed, in the lovely darkness. That is so restful and then gradually drift away into sleep…” C.S. Lewis / “The best of all medicines are resting and fasting.” Benjamin Franklin       

Image result for images Rest is a disciplineIn some of my posts, I have referred to “the larger story”.  We have our own unique stories: they are our own, no one else’s.  It takes courage to walk out our story.  Our stories are not finished.  Our stories are still being written.  When we get caught up in doing, doing, doing … going, going, going … We might be avoiding what it is we are … really … supposed to be doing.  That is when we are in the “push-pull”, Image result for images push pull  fast decisions, extra work projects, giving up some sleep, allowing our emotions to be messed with.  One description of rest that I came upon years ago  has stuck with me: “Rest is a discipline.”  Wow, a discipline is something that one takes time to practicem because it is a priority.  Just a thought.











 A man, a woman, sit together, no joy … just pain.  They have come to see the seer, with the hope that she will see … something.  Something that the two haven’t seen.  Something that will help them push through the desert, a harsh desert; and come out on the other side.  The seer hopes to see well, into and through, the fog, the pain, the guardedness.  The seer has every bit as much hope that the two, across from her, will be able to see … that they will see those pieces that connect with freedom.
“How important is it, to you, that you do see?”
The two appear to be stunned, as if no one has ever asked them that question.  And, maybe, no one ever has.  They appear to be stunned, as the question is not just a question; they are being “called out” … called out to take a step forward and see, even if they encounter something that they don’t want to see.  So they run that question, from the seer, through their hearts and minds … to the point that they both ask themselves a different question, “Am I really ready to be here?”
“We want to be here, and we want to see.”
“The information you communicated on your voicemail I received tells me that you are here to work on your marriage.  Depending on what that means … ‘to work on your marriage’ … it may be difficult, painful to see what is problematic about your relationship with each other.  Keep your courage close, your vision alive, your hope strong. Now, let us see what we can see.”
Image result for Images contemplation


The scenario, above, is a context of seeing; a small allegory.  Allegories and metaphors are powerful, for me, in two ways: teaching, and my own processes of grappling with thoughts I am attempting to resolve.  In my last post (6/24/16), I wrote about my father, Bill Davis, who had passed away that morning.  The grief issue, I am indeed grappling with and attempting to resolve, but I am quite stuck.  To grieve, I think, requires that I “see”; that I see well.  I was talking to another therapist not too long ago.  I expressed to her that … me being a therapist, one would think that I would have a good handle on grief, and how to “do it”.   She said something that validated some of  my cognitive disruption: “I have found that many therapists avoid grief whenever possible.”  Ironic.  The grief process can be quite different for each person.  For me, I am seeing different scenarios where Dad was involved.  And the seeing brings about some disruption, some joy, some great sorrow, some anger.  But grief is not the only context for us, where seeing is so profound.  Seeing comes into play, some days more than others.  When I worked with at-risk adolescents, I found myself seeing something that I truly did not want to see.  It takes courage to see.  It is also a gift to see. I find truth in the seeing; and I find comfort in the seeing.  And in meaningful relationships, we must be able to see.  Throughout all of this, there is strategic seeing.  If we are in the thick of ot, it is not difficult to see … that we are indeed in the thick of it.  In times like that, we must dig down into our heart and soul, and see the hope … see the truth that there is a bigger picture.  The chaos does not define us.  That’s all for now.

Heads-Up for Kayleb

An 11 year-old autistic boy kicked a garbage can because he was having a bad day.  This resulted in Kayleb being charged with disorderly conduct.

A couple of weeks later, a school – police officer grabbed Kayleb, threw him down on the ground, handcuffed him, charged him with 1) another disorderly conduct; and 2) a felony.  

There is an opportunity to sign a petition with 

Public School really needs to be a safe place for our kids.   In Kayleb’s case, I don’t know all the facts: I was not there.  But based on what information is available, it’s wrong for Kayleb to have to endure this.  Absolutely wrong.  Then again, there will always be injustice among children … on this side of heaven.  It’s still wrong.

Snows, Spring, Pushing Through

SnowBelle in Snow
SnowBelle in front of the two feet of snow.

Three days ago I walked out to see how much snow was still on the ground.  A few patches in the shady places, where sunlight filters through the trees.  My thoughts were that Spring is coming through the mountains; that we had seen the last of snow.  Such thoughts were in the space of obliviousness.  I had not checked the weather, which according to some folks up here is a cardinal sin.

Two days ago some of the people I work with were talking it up:

“How much?”

“They’re saying up to two feet above 8,000.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Oh, it’s gonna happen. It’s going to be a upslope.”



Yesterday morning, the snow was just getting ramped up.  Around noon, I had to push through my reluctance and the thick snow on the driveway.  Snow blower doesn’t work, so it was me and shovel.  We finally measured our driveway a while back.  I would not have guessed, but its 450 feet long.  There is a curve in the middle. I embraced the thick wool dungarees  that I bought in 1992 at a thrift store; a t-shirt; a workout jacket; a polar fleece; wool hat; Sorrels snow boots; and some gloves (one right, and one left).  I attacked the snow, driving back my nemesis (one of my nemesis), to the sides of the driveway.  I felt like Gandalf, not with a staff but with a shovel, standing against the bellrog: “YOU … SHALL … NOT … PASS!!!”

By evening it was hammering pretty good.  This morning, I looked out the sliding glass door at the two feet of snow.  Ahhhhh.  Just what I was looking for: more snow to shovel on my 450 feet steep-steep driveway.  So … switching  gears.   The metaphor of the snowstorm connected with my heart and mind.  I’ve been in a difficult season that has gone on … way too long.  There have been several events over the last 7 years that have knocked me off the horse.  In some ways, I have been a hiding man.  In other ways I have been a wounded man.  A handful of people, who know me well enough to speak candidly with me, have said numerous times over the last seven years: “T: get back in the game …”; “Get back on the horse …”; “You know what you’re supposed to be doing, so do it …”  I don’t resent their counsel.  They are right.  And yet, I see some logic to the idea, expressed in this hypothetical question: “Why should I get back on the horse … just to be knocked off, again?”  The snowstorm metaphor.  I have no choice but to push back the snow.  The snow cannot win.  I have what it takes.  As Winston Churchill said: “This will be our finest hour.” Chances are that some who are reading this post might have experienced some of the same anguish, some of the same type of dilemma.   So, are we going to do this?  Are we going to push through?