is this you?

Bloged in community by rod Tuesday May 31, 2005


do you recognize yourself through the eyes of my computer? This is a simplified version of what you look like as you browse around the web, leaving trace evidence of yourself on every page you hit.
If you also have your own webpage or blog, perhaps your curiosity has caused you to wonder who is visiting. You learn to take a glance and notice patterns and referrals and comments and IPs, and to match them all up and eventually you can tell who hits your page and when.
All this ramble comes because early this afternoon, this lucky bloghopper became the 20,000th visitor to the cyberdeck. Virtual bells and whistles sounded and digital confetti fell and a crowd of cyber employees gathered ’round to sing a ridiculous song that I’ll spare you from having to listen to now.
A tot board popped up and displayed the number, 20,000 and then listed a number of prizes to be awarded to the lucky person behind this IP.
Speak up, identify yourself, and claim your prize of a gift certificate of: 1)unlimited free visits to the cyberdeck, 2) 20,000 cyberdeckbucks to be spent in the cyberdeck cyberstore, 3) all you can drink Sumatra Coffee to be consumed in a visit to the physical deck upon which the cyberdeck is published.

In related news: the abbott will receive an assortment of cyberdeck prizes for being the referrer of the 20,000th cyberdeck visitor. Thanks for the assist, gdwill.

the voice of intimacy - being

Bloged in apprenticeship, community by rod Monday May 30, 2005

Secretly, I’ve asked, and even in my blog I’ve wondered at why some relationships are draining and others fulfilling. Why, as a teacher, do I want to spend every moment I can helping some student with even the most basic concept that is tripping him up, but avoid an extra moment with another student? It may be most simply understood in the teacher/student scenario. I am interested in helping a student who is participating in the quest to grasp a concept. It has been evident to me, that this can’t simply be explained by writing off the draining relationships as needy friends who take and don’t give. In terms of relationships, there are friends who just want you to be there, but really aren’t interested in being with you, or even in you being with them, or maybe they just don’t know how to be with you.
Friends and I have dubbed this filling and being filled relationship as flow. It’s like electricity, the current finds a return path. It’s a circuit. But even this explanation is not entirely adequate; it suggests that filling and being filled balance the relationship- that one friend doesn’t only take from the other but also gives.
It has been my experience that a friend doesn’t have to give to keep you filled. Sure, a draining relationship only takes, but a filling relationship doesn’t have always to give. With some, one is filled by giving, not only in also being given to. One can give by receiving. I can fill myself by filling a friend. My friend can fill me by receiving what I give. This is a mystery.

Once again, last night’s Peterson reading speaks right into where I’ve been. He explains operating in the middle voice. The passive voice has us being done to or for. The active voice has us doing to or for, but the middle voice, has us participating in something that is being done. This is the voice of intimacy.
You give to a passive draining friend. An active draining friend takes from you. But a middle voice relationship allows the friend to participate in what you are giving him. He doesn’t take, he receives. The giver is given to by the reception of his gift by his friend. The friend doesn’t have to give in return. Ironically, the friendship does usually work both ways, but it doesn’t have to be simultaneously to still have flow.
Intimacy doesn’t come in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” relationship. Intimacy comes when we scratch my back together and we scratch your back together.
Can you imagine if we all learned to relate to one another in the middle voice? Can you imagine if we learned to relate to God in the middle voice? To worship?
Intimacy with God doesn’t come from learning to avoid approaching him in worship to experience him, or in “giving” to him through sacrificial obedience to a discipline that we don’t enjoy or that we begrudge even. It comes in participating in his will, agreeing with him, and conforming our will to his.

agricola - against the grain

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, poems by rod Saturday May 28, 2005

a tremendous field
unfathomable acres
bulldozed and cleared
myriad buildings
millions of dollars
developer, planner, financier,
banker, management, broker,
supplier, contractor, sub-contractor
foremen, crew, realtor,
buyer.

the very same field, elsewhere,
in waning daylight
a lonely man with
a single tractor
one row at a time.

language I - speaking

Bloged in apprenticeship, community by rod Friday May 27, 2005

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve used the words groan, or moan to describe my prayer in the last six months… well I’ve used them a lot. And you’ve read them a lot. Oh, yeah, and “wisps of my heart.” I’ve done a lot of moaning and groaning out here on the deck.
I know I’ve even mentioned to a friend at one rather difficult time that I didn’t even feel like I could pray. My friend said that was ok, because sometimes that’s what friends are for. That is true, friends have words when words can’t be found. But what I only partly knew at the time was that words couldn’t be found because there were no words to be found. Sometimes, if someone has a word for you, or a word to offer up for you, it’s because they don’t truly understand where you are, or what you’re dealing with. If they did, they’d be without words too. But even that falls into what I have to talk about.
Often, on Sunday mornings I use David Crowder’s “I Need Words”. It is a wonderful expression of the inability to find the words to express an emotion. What is precisely not true in the song, is “I need words.” I have come to realize that I don’t need words. Moans and groans will do fine, thank you. I will continue to sing that song. It will express my desire to express. It will be a reminder to me and to everyone else that I still haven’t found the words. If I did find them, I would define a God that can’t be defined and I would insufficiently express emotion that can’t be expressed.
There are times when any words used would be lies. Any. So why even try? Why not just feel? And be. And let God, who IS, Be. He will be for me, even when I can’t cry out. When I grasp in the dark, there he is, being in the dark.
Eugene Peterson has summarized all he has learned into 3 types of language. The first type doesn’t really use words. It’s the language of emotion and need and intimacy. It’s the first language we use. Babies communicate with parents and parents with babies this way. Tears and tunes and coos and moans. It is nonsense and it is understood. Lovers communicate this way, and praying worshippers do as well. The other two types are informational and motivational. They dominate society. They are the languages of schools and advertisement and … unfortunately, the church. Conformed to this world. A loss of the emotional and spiritual. Sure, we tell heartwarming stories, but they are designed to be motivational. Sure we rehearse ancient, moving historical accounts, but they are designed to be informational. In fact, we’re terrified of emotion and completely confused with spiritual. That’s why everything is accomplished in five steps and spirituality is measured by five outcomes. Why would we so intentionally avoid the language of the Spirit himself? Moans and groans. Tears and tunes and coos and smiles. As Peterson notes, some people never quit using this language - a few lovers, some poets, the saints.
I embrace the language of surrendered moaning. I am helpless. Expressionless. Needy.
You know my inmost thoughts. I don’t need words.

windows

Bloged in apprenticeship by rod Thursday May 26, 2005

Allison and I were having a heavy conversation tonight, and probably of necessity, but in any case, to break the weight, she glanced at the French door panes that I’d recently washed and said, “You really got those clean. You’re amazing the way your keen eyes see streaks in the windows, that no one else would notice.” I responded that everyone sees streaks in the windows, it’s just that I refuse to tolerate them.
Of course that is not really true, (the part about not tolerating them) and the whole scenario is much more complicated than I made it sound. Truth is that my windows are as dirty as anyone else’s windows. Come over and see for yourself. From time to time, I look out into the backyard through fingerprints and spiders’ webs and long for a clearer view. I leave my cereal bowl on the table, grab the Windex and scrub away, inside and out. The perfectly transparent window makes all the others virtually opaque, and so I get at them too. But over (very little) time, the crud builds back up at a rate that is not immediately noticeable and there I am seeing less than I could be through smudgy glass.
Some of us notice the dirt and crud and are just too lazy to get up and clean it. Over time, the crud completely clouds our views and we just stop trying to look out. Someone could scrawl “wash me” on the window with a finger, and it wouldn’t even be noticed.
Others of us, have seen the crud for so long that we truly don’t notice it anymore, though we keep looking out, and get a distorted view that we don’t even realize is no longer real or clear. Beautiful, red Cardinals are just grey blobs and the oaks are indistinguishable from the maples and hummingbirds fly by unnoticed.
My windows are constantly getting dirty with fingerprints, spider webs, and just goo from the atmosphere, but thank goodness, all it takes is a little vinegar and water, and desire to see clearly.

bushfish

Bloged in church, culture by rod Wednesday May 25, 2005

Am I the only person who sees a problem with this?
Yes, I try to keep my mouth shut on certain things, so I won’t blog the 6 pages I have to say why this bothers me.

all in a day’s ride

Bloged in apprenticeship, family, life, metaphor by rod Tuesday May 24, 2005

Jack and I took a nice big long ride today. No doubt the longest ride he’s ever taken on a motorcycle. The kids had a half-day at school and so everyone was home by noon. Allison was asleep, Will and Molly went swimming at a friend’s house so Jack and I took off. We tried to ride around the lake, but traffic was backed up all the way across the dam, so we pulled a Hughie in the middle of the dam and changed our flight plan.
We rode north for about a half hour and stopped for a cold beverage. Then we went to lake Monticello to enjoy them. As always, the lake Monticello was blustery. The water was choppy and the waves were coming in so hard it sounded like we were at the ocean. A perfect day for wind surfing, which is exactly what was going on. There were about half a dozen wind surfers out there riding back and forth in front of us. Jumping waves like they were in Australia. I couldn’t believe how fast they were going. I’m pretty sure there is a horsepower limit on lake Monticello due in some way to the nuclear power plant, but there is no limiting or controlling the wind. I have no doubt that these guys were going faster than a boat is allowed to go on that lake.
We got back on the bike and road to the Anderson granite quarry. This quarry has been inactive for a long time. I wanted to show it to Jack. On the way over there I stopped to show him two church buildings that were constructed in 1768 and 1780. When we turned off the road toward the quarry, there is a granite serpentine wall along the road. All the houses are granite and most have dated stones in the corner that show 1920s and 30s. We got off the bike and walked up into the quarry and looked down into the water filled hole and up at the square, cut sides. We played in the debris of old cables and granite blocks that were just abandoned all those years ago.
On the way home, we took a different route, of course and came back on tinier, more out-of-the-way roads. It was there that I saw my favorite sight of the day. As we motored down a country road I saw movement deep in the woods on the left, far ahead. This is one of my gifts. I can see things out there that most people miss. This ability is heightened on the motorcycle, because it is a good idea to see anything that might step, jump, or crawl out in front of you. Deep in the woods there was a different shape and line and a rustle upsetting the static scenery. I thought it was a dog at first, but when we got even with it, I could see it was a spotted fawn. I slowed, turned around and went back. Still there, and with its tiny spotted twin. I know, everyone sees deer beside the road, most of you probably have hit them. But I never have. I see them. And every single one fascinates me as much as the very first one I ever saw. Tiny spotted twins with tales flickering and heads turned back looking in the same direction as their backsides. Jack could see them too, after we stopped. We sat there a while and watched them and I thought of a time several years ago when the boys and I were fishing at Cranberry. We’d spent the morning walking way up the river and we hadn’t seen anyone for hours. We were all three standing in the middle of the river. I was fishing and the boys were in knee-deep water, catching crawdads. I saw something swimming across directly toward the boys. A deer. We all stopped to watch but the boys quickly went back to the crawdads. I told them that I understood that seeing a deer is something that happens every evening, but this one is different. How many people see one swimming across the river. AND, this one may have never seen a human before. He made it to within yards of where the boys were standing knee-deep, but his head was still sticking straight up. He couldn’t touch bottom yet. Finally he stood and stuck his nose up high out of the water and walked to the side. He was no higher than Jack’s knees, all spotted and wobbly. Now I was pretty sure that we were the first humans he’d ever encountered. And I’m not sure he ever knew we were there.
There is always something rare, special, or new in the every-day and mundane. We experience experiences based solely in our own perspective and umbrella the circumstances. And there’s always something plain and familiar in the new and fascinating. So there is always something fascinating and always something familiar. Often they’re one and the same. I guess it’s up to us to decide whether it is a fascinating experience or an every day occurrence.

finding beauty

Bloged in apprenticeship, life, metaphor by rod Monday May 23, 2005

it’s a name for a girl

it’s also a thought that…

could change the world
-U2

the mountains win again

Bloged in life, metaphor by rod Sunday May 22, 2005

Way back when I was a kid, dad used to take me hunting in the fall. I don’t know why I loved that so much, but I guess it seemed like a manly thing to do, and I could only do it with men. So I must have been manly. Dad gave me a .410, single shot shotgun for my 7th birthday, and let me use it. During the summers, he’d take us to the mountains to a cabin that he and his friends used during deer season, but I didn’t get to go hunting there with him until I was older. He also used to take us camping and fishing during the summers.
I don’t know how long it took me to realize that hunting and fishing were only excuses to get into the woods or a river. It also took me a long time to realize why every mountain and river experience made the next one more necessary. The mountains are absorbent, they soak you up and keep a part of you, and the river washes away a part of you and keeps it for itself – that is, if the mountain doesn’t soak it up as it runs down its side, the way a single tear rarely makes it to your chin, but is absorbed back into the tearful before it falls away.
I don’t think it really matters if you grew up among them, if the mountains get a part of you, you can never really leave them. As Rich Mullins observed, they’re lonely, even in paradise. You’ll look for every excuse to get back to them, to be near to that part of you that they absorbed, took from you, and kept safely among them. But when you go back to be with that part of yourself, they take more. They just keep absorbing you as long as you keep coming. When you find those parts again, they’ve become stronger than even the part of you you’ve kept.
Since I was a kid, a lot of new roads have been cut into the sides of the mountains, visitor centers have been constructed where there used to be nothing, and complete hills have been leveled for Walmart Supercenters and Motels. Those cut and leveled hills contained a part of me that some dump truck carried off and deposited somewhere else. It is still around, and I find myself looking for it up every hollow, under every rock in the river, around every bend in the path.
If you want to become a part of something as beautiful and old as time, to still be here long after you’re gone, lose yourself in the mountains. Find an excuse. Buy a fly rod and stand in the middle of the river. Don’t buy a boat and sit on top of a lake. Don’t stand up on the bank and watch beauty flow by. Stand in the middle of it and flow with it. Become a part of its beauty. Let it take a part of you and deposit it against the bank in the side of the mountain at the next river bend.
This is an exchange.
Montani Semper Liberi? Bogus. A mountaineer is never free from the mountains. Yes, there is a freedom in being owned by the mountains, but the freedom is only felt when you are in them. This paradoxical existence requires that you give yourself away and smile as you wave goodbye to yourself flowing over rocks and under hemlocks.
So if you’re not willing to lose a part of yourself there, stay away. Maybe you’ve got to travel through the mountains on your way to somewhere else. Stay in your car where you can catch a glimpse but not be caught. Look at postcards, read stories. Whatever you do, don’t get absorbed.

under the three-quarter moon

Bloged in life, luna see by rod Saturday May 21, 2005

Will went to a friend’s house to play after school today and Jack got a call to spend the night and go see Star Wars with his friend. Molly had a dress rehearsal downtown for Sunday’s recital. Will called and asked if he could just stay at his friend’s house. The rain was scheduled to move out by 9, but it left around 6. So I jumped on the bike and took provisions for the night to Will and just kept going.
The night is exquisite. After the rain, the sky is cleansed and crystal clear. The moon is extra bright and crisp. The air is cool, even nippy, and there are patches of fog everywhere. The scent of honeysuckle is just hovering 5 feet above the ground. The bike feels exponentially more free on a night like this. The sky is higher for more headroom. The cool air hightens the senses. The bright moon illuminates the fields beside the road. With the fog, you actually see the air move around you. Speed and freedom. The honeysuckle assaults your face as you rip through the night with 1100 cubic centimeters of symphonic happiness. The road rises up to meet you like it is your only destination.
Anyone on a motorcycle tonight with an olfactory sense knows why this is called the flower moon.

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