ahead

there is this thing that lies to the fore,
this great gravity/this final shore;
and is it approaches the waves rebound,
push me further from nearing ground;
what a contradiction that I cannot rest,
until i pass this promised, this one last test.

when will gravity let me on my way,
that i might leave, wordless,
having had my say?

without stutter

there are words,
they ring and sound the depths
but they are not mine
these glowing bits of light
that would fall from my lips
and cleanse the oily black
if only these lips could speak
without stutter

and i would stand to the front line
but cannot because i am too willing
but cannot because the call is heard
not spoken

IT

The movie, IT, is a fantastic piece of film-making and not since Stand By Me has a film done so much justice to a Stephen King work and remain so faithful to the source material.

For me it was also a wonderful journey back in time as it was filmed in southern Ontario and is steeped in the summers of my youth. One scene in particular stands out for me as the characters gather at the edge of a cliff preparing to jump in. As the camera pans out I realize it is the very same cliff edge I had jumped from many times at the same age as the characters maybe three years before the movie’s setting of 1989. The scene was filmed at Elora Quarry – a place I would bike the more than 20 kilometers to from Guelph.

The best of Stephen King comes through in the movie – his ability to develop believable childhood characters without any patronizing.

The film was spectacularly acted and directed. The cinematography is brilliant and evocative. Every detail – the writing, the music. It is all near perfect. From the moment the movie starts there is no moment that feels overlong, boring, or extraneous.

A real classic. Not to be missed.

There is no strength in Numbers

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” – John 19:25-27

The earliest expression of church is not after Pentecost but rather with Christ during his lifetime. Christ and the ones called out to him. The ones called out, or ekklesia in Greek which we have since translated as church.

Those he called include the disciples, the crowds who followed him, Israel and others compelled by his teaching and presence.

In what might arguably be called the greatest expression of Christ’s strength, the moment of his crucifixion, Christ is left with four members of his church close to him. Just four. The others – the most faithful are nowhere to be found having abandoned him in fear and hopelessness.

By today’s standards of church Christ would be considered a failure for allowing his flock to dwindle to such a degree. He would have been mocked by the faithful, Christian leadership programs, books, “real men” groups, classes etc. that seek to focus on structures, growth, manliness and womanliness and income as key signs of Godly anointment and success while missing the point entirely put best by God himself in the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12 when he says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” These words from this same Paul often seen as the founder of the modern church.

Many in the church have failed to recognize that faith and humility demand a church that believes Christ can do most when we set aside our human measures and attempts at strength and success.

It is not in our strength that God’s power is made perfect. It is not through odd, Christian men’s cults where real men are defined by there ability to express themselves in as testosterone driven a way as possible and real women through the power of their beauty and homemaking. It is not in these weird, very human ways that seek to build identities focused on self rather than outside of ourselves that God’s power is made perfect – it is through weakness.

God’s strength is made perfect when we let go of our own “strengths” and our measures of strength and admit that these things are simply expressions of a lack of faith and trust that the one who chose to die rather than fight knew what he was doing against all our own instincts.

Now some might point to Acts 2 and the work of the apostle Peter to suggest that numbers and growth are key metrics of success for a church. Specifically Acts 2:41 which states:

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

As well as Acts 2:47b:

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

In these instances it is important to look at the context to understand what was going on.

First I think it important to note that those three thousand referenced were specifically responding to a sermon by Peter on Pentecost.

Also pay attention to Acts 2:42-47:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

There is a devotion to teaching and fellowship which is focused inwardly on the community of faith. They had “all things in common” – something I fear may never occur again. They sold property and possessions – why? To give to the needy. They ate together in their homes and in a state of praise.

The work of the people, the liturgy, has an emphasis on the care and development of the faithful that the faithful may care for those in need. The answer to the question – “how should we most effectively grow our churches?” was “through a devotion to prayer, praise, teaching, and one-another that God might be most visible and evident in their lives and not their programs, their structures, and not event their growth. Growth was through a natural attraction to the things God was working amongst God’s people.

 

 

i’ll write the truth

“there’s no market for this shit…”

“when was it ever about the
damned market?
i thought it was about the art.”

“look it’s just…well you don’t have a hook…
you know…an angle…somethin’ to chew on”

“yeah…maybe…i don’t know. i never wrote
nothin for the sake of anything so i don’t
know why it’s a big deal anyhow.”

“exactly man – now yer gettin’ it.
it ain’t a big deal…i mean if it were up to me…
i’m just the publisher…it’s the panels, the judges,
the patrons and the sometimes even the readers.
you gotta market yourself man…do some readings
and maybe learn to stomp…plus you ain’t getting younger.
if you were uglier or better looking maybe…
but you just kinda blend…your smoke in a dark bar”

“fuck dude…just tell me to go some place else
or make some shit up about missing the deadline…
don’t be so damned harsh is all.”

“you want to know what i think or you want lies?”

“i don’t know anymore…maybe lies…i’ll write truth.”

is isn’t what i thought it would be

it isn’t what i thought it would be
– life

because i never thought it had to be
anything

you see

i went along on my own mindlessly
drone, drone, drone
a happy monotone
and others asked me

“what about this life? is it what you wanted?”

and i wondered – why ask such a silly thing
why not ask birds if air is what they expected
or ask fish if water lives up to the hype perhaps?

i exist.

i don’t think or ask about it…i simply do it
and it is beautiful/painful/ecstatic/infuriating/depressing/joyous
and so so so much more

it isn’t what i thought it would be
– life
because i never thought to wonder if it should be anything else
and if i would know what that would be if it passed by me

The Bees

The bees which are apparently hiving under my deck and doing exceptionally well. Once might go so far as to say they are thriving.

This despite my having emptied two industrial strength cans of the most toxic poisons known to humanity all over their little heads. Certainly the Bees suffered great losses in the chemical weapons attack with small striped corpses littering the deck but troops continue to flow in reinforcing the losses and continuing about the work of building a home near my back door.

I have thought about employing flame weaponry but the sly little bastards protected against this by building under a wooden platform which I am loathe to burn up in the attack – we are not at the point of falling prey to mutual assured destruction.

Back to the chemical weapons. Two different kinds were deployed, both with substantial range and accurate targeted, one of which actually foamed and expanded on contact.

Do you know how difficult it is to find Bee poison? Nearly impossible since the little dudes became somewhat endangered in the past few years. I mean the stores have poison for wasps, hornets, flies, mosquitos, generic “flying insects”, spiders, and more but can I find anything specifically labelled “Bees”? Nope. It has me wondering if bees are so different from hornets and wasps that they are immune to the poisons that kill them. I suspect in reality that bees are simply not politically correct to massacre these days.

Don’t get me wrong – I like bees. I just don’t like them under my deck by my back door. I will kill pretty much anything that decides to move under my deck by my back door if necessary. Sadly I cannot communicate with them and the written eviction notice was rudely ignored leaving no other alternative but chemical warfare (the Geneva Convention excludes bees from those populations it applies to).

One has to respect the noble bee’s resilience really. One also has to wonder about the fortifications being built under my deck which have somehow sheltered their Queen from all of my efforts.

Frankly I am at a point where I might consider an armistice. A cessation of hostilities for the sake of the environment and a reflection of my depleted defense budget.

We will see how negotiations go.

Of loss and gain

Parenting is a tale of loss and gain, of pride and pain.

Your children occupy a place in your heart that you cannot still and numb no matter how you try. There is no Novocain to take away the ever-present fear that, no matter how strong they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how smart or how well you raised them – they might get hurt and you are not there to help them through it.

In my life I have endured some things which have taught me how to turn off my emotions when necessary. Like a light switch I can reach out and simply flip them off and exist as an observer of my own life and those around me.

It is a horrible thing. I admit I have used it too often to my own detriment but there are times when not feeling is too great a temptation not to dive into. The problem is that while I can turn them off I cannot seem to consciously turn them back on. They turn on in their time.

Thankfully with my children I cannot do this. I cannot switch off my emotions with them. Like a normal human being I must walk through life feeling every fear and pain related to them I am, as a father, required to.

My middle child, my second son, my first Caleb Michael, has started his military career.

I was asked recently how long he will be gone and this gave me pause. I had not thought about it. I had tricked myself into believing I was sending him to summer camp.

But the reality is he has started his chosen life.

“I guess forever…” was what I said.

Of course this is a tad dramatic but I have always had a flair for hyperbole.

But then again this is his new life. This is his job now. He will spend three months in Basic Training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Following this he will be assigned to an infantry regiment where he will go through eight more months of infantry training.

“Infantry?!?” I said. “Why infantry?” Having served in the 11th Field Regiment, Artillery, I was puzzled.

“I wanted the hardest combat option.”

Of course he did.

For almost a year he has been working out in preparation for the challenge. I am not concerned about his physical abilities, this is not the hardest part of military training…the mental test is by a huge margin, the most difficult.

I sent him to every sub-reddit, video, and harrowing personal tale I could find on the internet. If he was going in for something like this he would be damn well informed about at least.

Nothing swayed him.

So now my boy, just 17 years old, is living on a base bunking with five other young men, training to serve his country.

When he comes home it will be for holidays or because the military didn’t work out for him. If it doesn’t work out that’s fine too. I told him as much. Whether he’s in five minutes, five days, five years or until he retires it makes no difference to me and how proud I am of him.

Still he has moved on and into his own life now. My second son to do so.

Matthew, my eldest, moved out more than two years ago. At first it seemed like an experiment. Just like when I told myself Caleb was going to camp I convinced myself that Matt was taking a little time to experience the world and he would be back.

He applied for university and was accepted everywhere but was not convinced the programs were what he wanted long term.

“Dad I don’t want to go into $40,000 or more of debt and come out trained for a career I might not even want.”

It was difficult to argue with this.

Instead he got a job at a local company to save money and decide what he wanted. Now after almost three years he has been promoted into the company’s computer technician company and feeling like he has a career and loyalty to a good employer.

He is happy, living on his own, saving his money, investing in RRSPs and what more could a father ask of a son.

And so he is on his own. Out of the house.

It is weird.

As with Matt’s moving out Caleb’s departure has been felt slowly. There are small absences. It is not unlike grieving really. When I am shopping I will stop at the tortilla chip section prepared to buy Caleb his customary weekly family pack only to realize there is no need to.

I think September and the school year will be most challenging. Caleb and I would walk/ride to school together since my work is just a block away. At lunch we would go home together as well. I would make him lunch and we would spend the time chatting about one thing or another – mostly video games or movies.

It is these small absences that pile up.

I know he is there, in the world, being Caleb just as Matt is literally down the street in his own apartment, and the world is better for it, it has gained – but it is difficult sometimes and unlike other pains I cannot shut this one off no matter how much I try.

approximäte human

this is a must
to earn the trust
of the ones who move past;
with barely an eye
for any subtle detail
let alone your face
your voice
your soul

approximäte trust
approximäte love
approximäte compassion
approximäte interest

you must
approximäte
human

and then you may walk
unnoticed through the crowd –

a sheep in wolf’s clothing