Seeing


 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
https://livingasapprentices.com/2013/05/28/contemplation-and-social-justice/

 

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.

Dad Man: A Tribute

Bill Davis, AKA Dad Man on the right.

 

Odd, it is, such a nickname.  Not used exclusively.  We used “Dad” most of the time.  Grandkids called him “Popaw”, who was married to “MiMi” (short i). And if you weren’t family, he was known mostly as “Bill”; sometimes “Billy”; and rarely “Willy”.  Dad Man, also known as Bill Davis, was my Dad, as already Mentioned.  And Dad Man passed away this morning: Friday morning, 7:45 CDT.  We are hugely thankful that he did not suffer in his final week.  In fact, he fell asleep on Thursday the 16th, and continued sleeping until this morning.  Dad Man was on a U.S. Navy ship in the South Pacific, in WWII.  They did “mine sweeps”, sending divers down to release the mines; they would rise to the surface, where sharp shooters could detonate the bombs.  My Dad was a passionate high school basketball coach; a  high school principal; and he loved his golf.  His storytelling ability / giftedness was second to none.  He was authentic, trustworthy, and had real humility.  A great father, a great husband, and he loved to laugh … a laugh that was wildly contagious.

My last post was about the Return of the Prodigal.  This man in the picture is the Dad who always loved me, never rejected, always welcomed me.  A great man, Bill Davis.  I will miss him.

An Image of Hope

Hope, from an image.  Not just an image, but a painting.  Not just a painting, but a Rembrandt; Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son.

The Return of the Prodigal Son https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s painting connects with a biblical passage, Luke 12.  Here is my “Readers Digest” version, a short paraphrase that does not do the full story justice.  So, accept my apology.  A younger brother, working with his father and older brother in the field, complained to his father about the hard work, the boredom.  He wanted to leave with all of his inheritance immediately.  The father agreed, with great consternation.  The younger brother left on his adventure, and it was not long before he blew his inheritance on drink and revelry.  Hungry because he had no food, no money.  He got a job at a pig farm, and saw that the pigs were getting fed better than he was.  The younger brother then decided to go back home, humble himself before his father (he was truly humbled, broken, devastated) and apologize; he would take a job as a hired hand.  At least he would not go hungry.

The Prodigal Son, welcomed by the father http://www.rembrandtpainting.net

 When the prodigal son came into view from where his father stood, the father ran to his son with unfathomable gratitude that his lost son was back.    He instructed his servants to put together a feast.  The (above) painting shows the younger son, the prodigal, in his ragged clothes, humbling himself before his father, expressing his sorrow for being a fool, and leaving home.  The older son’s jealousy and anger with his younger brother.  The older brother stands to the right in the painting, looking on, with jealous and angry with his younger brother.

Rembrandt painted The Return of the Prodigal Son about two years before his death, suggesting that Rembrandt identified with the Prodigal.  Rembrandt died penniless, before his fame could catch up with him.

Other paintings resonate with the theme of The Return of the Prodigal Son, such as “Merry Company” by Gerrit van Honthorst (1623), showing the Prodigal squandering his inheritance.

Image result for rembrandt paintings the prodigal son
“Merry Company” Gerrit van Honthorst 1623

 

I refer to hope, in this post, connected to Rembrandt’s painting, simply because the Prodigal found love, acceptance, and a place to belong.

Lastly, I cherish The Return of the Prodigal Son because I am a prodigal.  The difference is that I never really returned home.  I just made visits.  Yet, my father always loved me; always accepted me; always welcomed me.

All of this comes with strange timing.  Father’s day is coming up, and I consider that I could have been a better father for my son; as my father was to me.  My father is 93, and he recently experienced a fairly serious turn for the worst in the last 48 hours.  My brothers and I are hoping for the best.  Hope is what we have.  Hope emerges from different places, different people, different stories.

 

It Is Spring, It Is Not, It Is Good

This post was to go out a couple of weeks ago.  Bummer.

I thought I would hold off before I stood up on a chair and belt out a song and a yawp of joy … Spring has been elusive, winter waiting until our guard was down, believing that Spring was bully here … and then rushing in like fierce snow birds, snow bunnies, snow squirrels.  Now, I think that the snow is over, for the year.  True, anything can happen.  Snow in June?? Not yet.  The injustice, here, is that Spring has almost flown the coop; slipped out the back, Jack; gone for the year … We may have a little  Spring left.   Those seasons, they keep changing. Such a simple statement, with profound implications.  Our seasons in our lives, they look different for all of us.   Me … I belief that I am in a season where I’m breaking through barriers of resistance.  It is one thing to decide that it is your / my season … to break through barriers; and an entirely different matter to do it.  This idea (you have already heard about)  that sometimes the places we are at in life, struggling with certain issues, difficulties, offer us something, like a “pay-off”, and because of that we choose to stay, to linger, in these places.  Those places might be in a desolate canyon with very few trees.  Or, anxiety is dominant, or we wear depression like a heavy wool topcoat.  And some might say that we struggle to move on, to move out, of those places … because we find some paradoxical comfort there.  Maybe it is “the known”, versus “the unknown”.  My final thought is this.  For us to break through the barriers of a difficult season: we need a blend of specific, trustworthy, wise, supportive, and sensitive  sojourners to walk with us; and we also need to embrace the reality that we must have some time to “sit in” a desert place of pain, to think through the process, the motives for wanting to leave what is familiar, and the implications of stepping into (again) the unknown.  Peace be with you, sojourning bloggers.  And, keep writing.

Lock The Door, Put Out The Cat…

Years ago … actually it seems a different century…. I was in my first year of college, a small university between North Louisiana & South Louisiana.  The Cane River elegantly flowed through town.  I fell in cahoots with another young student who eloquently, and through his actions, emphasized the importance of foolishness and fun.  I’ll refer to him as  Caleb, a gifted, talented, banjo player who jammed well with other bluegrass musicians.  Some of the tunes I remember Caleb playing with fiddlers, string bassists, guitar-men, (and other musicians) were:

  • Foggy Mountain Breakdown
  • Will The Circle Be Unbroken
  • Midnight Train to Memphis
http://www.beanblossom.com/bluegrass-music/banjo-newsletter.php

One tune was “Let’s Go Stepping”.   Emma Lou Harris sang a tune entitled “I’ll Go Steppin”, which was basically the same as the one I am referring to … but with some different lyrics.  What I remember was “Lock the Door, Put Out the Cat, Let’s Go Steppin!”  This past weekend, my better half & I “lined up our ducks in a row (an expression)” and finally got away for a three-day weekend.  I was reminded of this song with all the excitement of loading up the jeep, confirming reservations for a place up in Manitou Springs, a friend coming to the house to hang out with our dogs and our kiddos (we don’t have any cats).  So, here is what happened.  We went up to Manitou Springs, stayed in a nice place, had some good food, good coffee, good desert, and saw some beautiful places.  ‘Ever heard of the Garden of the Gods?  I’ve got me a new journal …. I never buy journals, because notebooks are beautiful things, and cheap.  But I’m pushing through a process, right now … And a special journal devoted to these specific dynamics / thoughts happening in the midst of this process seems to be what needs to happen.  It’s all about finding that rhythm … getting the tune down, locking the door, put out the cat, the dogs, and go steppin’.  See some new places, eat some good food, drink some good coffee, find our true North  … Then, that “last day” comes.  Often times it comes with a little dread.  But not this time.  We knew that we wanted to make our last day worthwhile … and we did.  But as we were driving homeward, my bride put excellent words to it (even though I’m paraphrasing): “It was so crowded this morning, while you were still sleeping … I went to the coffee shop.  The traffic was ridiculous (even in a small little place like Manitou Springs), the noise,  the crowdedness … Our waiter last night was a really nice kid, but one of the biggest air-head waiters ever … ”  The point is that where we live is where it is the most quiet, where there is the most restoration.  We’ve experienced this phenomenon before, but maybe never with so much clarity.   When we all came back together, again, we were so glad to see our kiddos.  They had a great time, while we were gone, and the dogs didn’t have any complaints, either.  It is definitely good to get out and see some sights.  And it is definitely good to get back, and sleep in your own bed.

 

It is Well, the Trail

 1993, August, Grand Teton National Park, on the Death Canyon trail to Static Peak, I came around a bend and saw the first bull moose I had ever seen (up close).  I don’t have a picture of this magnificent beast.  I will, however, remember that he was the biggest animal I have come that close to: the neck, massive; the rack, I estimated was six feet across; dark piercing eyes  exuding a strength that convinced me to turn around … on the trail … and go back around the bend, and decide what to do, next.  Here’s an image I found of a bull elk:  
*Note: one of my favorite blogs, “i didn’t have my glasses on”, and the recent post entitled “Trail” motivated me to write this post:  https://ididnthavemyglasseson.com/2016/05/17/trail/

The trail is a profound place to be.  I have followed paths through wildernesses that have enveloped me with fragrances; pristine colors; the wonder of trees; creeks, boulders … The trail is where I escape concrete, street lamps, and automobiles.  Some examples:

Specimen Mountain Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park;  Rolling Creek Trail, Pike National Forest; Mount Falcon Park trails, Indian Hills; Death Canyon Trail, Grand Teton National Park; Cedar Falls Trail, Petit Jean State Park; and Adam Falls Trail / Mount Craig Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park … for a short list.

Teton Crest Trail, Death Canyon Shelf, Grand Teton National Park

I’ll close with this.  There is a book worth looking into, entitled Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, written by Richard Louv.  Second item, I want to acknowledge that I have had some serious “blogger’s block” (like writer’s block).  My continued visits to my favorite blogs have been a part of this “calling” out of my own wildernesses, to finally get a post written again.  Interesting how that works, bloggers helping bloggers.  We all have our trails, and sometimes they are difficult.   

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Maxwell Falls Trailhead, Pike National Forest

 

Trailhead, Adams Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

 

 

 

 

 

Our People, Our Pain

Bus station, 1990, Christmas week.  Dad is driving me to the bus station; return to Denver, after four days for Christmas in the deep South.  Me, the “Black Sheep” riding a bus for 24 hours to see Mom & Dad, brothers, their wives, their children.  The dining room table loaded with excellent food, everyone sat to eat and tell stories of reflection.   I had not fully earned the privilege of telling stories.  Yet, out of the family’s kindness, I was allowed to tell a story or two, in the spirit of being tolerated.  My stories were not told with such Southern finesse.  I often think of Bruce Hornsby’s lyrics, from “The Way It Is”:

“That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Ah, but don’t you believe them …”

Bruce Hornsby, “The Way It Is”

Our families, our people, not necessarily the same.  One can find betrayal and love in both, our families, our people.  One of “my people” is a guy … Stan (not his real name) I met in college; we worked non-glamorous, campus jobs.  Stan, in charge of the Custodial  crew, and I in charge of the Grounds crew.  That was 30 years ago.  We have stayed close since then; closer than a brother.  Stan was a groomsman at my wedding.  He brought me with him into the inner city of Denver to help, and to encourage, those who lived there.  There were a few times when I was in the hospital, he was there.  When our youngest was born, Stan came to the hospital.  Stan has seen me, known me, and helped me in my darkest of times.  Stan is an example of my people; not my family.  Stan has never  judged me; never excluded me; never made feel inferior.  My family?  My family has loved me, and encouraged me.  And yet, Stan is closer than a brother.  I ask myself, “Why would a post like this come around now?”  It isn’t Christmas.  This post is not about Christmas.  This post is connected to a fairly difficult winter, and not because of the winter conditions.  It has been a bleak, cold, winter in my soul.  At times, sunless.  I am so hungry for Spring.  And during this harsh winter, my friend … Stan … has been there, and here, for me and with me.  My people.