Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sleeping Bags

Every week at the sandwich run, they give us a night off. We get a couple of hours of free time while the groups hand out sandwiches to relax, and then we can meet them later at Tim Horton’s in Dundas Square to debrief the whole thing, and get the groups home.

So Tim and I had a couple of hours to kill in downtown Toronto before we had to meet the groups. We wandered through Chinatown, and down Queen St. and met a random girl on the street, who asked us for money. We don’t like to give out money; it is an excuse to not give people the dignity of at least acknowledging the person, and offering to meet a more basic need than food: respect. Tim offered the girl an Arizona iced tea drink he had in his backpack instead, and she was really thankful, so we hung out with her for a bit and talked to her. A few roommates of a friend of ours who does the sandwich runs came up and hung out with us too, and we were talking to them and playing with their pet snakes. (random!!!) We later offered the girl to buy her some street meat, especially after she implied that she was really starving, and we walked with her to Nathan Phillips Square and bought her a hotdog. As we walked, we learned a bit about her life, and she told us about how young she was, and how long she’d been on the street, and basic things like needing to panhandle and make $20 for the night so she could afford to replace a sleeping bag that she had gotten stolen from her.

We went our separate ways, and started to head over to meet our groups when we walked past a Canadian Tire, and thought, yeah, let’s buy the girl a sleeping bag. We could help her out, and like, give her a blessing that we have in abundance. Tim almost refused to take my money on it, but when you’re both poor, I find you become more generous. I kinda… whipped a twenty dollar bill at his face, not intending to hurt him or anything… but yeah. So we got this real nice orange Coleman sleeping bag. We didn’t want to cheap out on it, and we headed over to where she was sitting to give it to her. But we couldn’t find her. We went up and down the street looking for her, but she was nowhere to be found.

So we stopped, and prayed we would find her.

Then we bumped into the sandwich run crew, on their way back to Tim Horton’s. We explained the situation, and some of our street friends were around, so we described the girl to them, and they said, “Yeah, we know her. She pans on Queen St. in front of Much Music, you know?” Which wasn’t far from where we were! So we booked it over, and ran as fast and as hard as we could. I can’t describe though, like, it felt as though we were running into a dark dark place, and trying to save someone, and we didn’t have a flashlight. We couldn’t find her. We bumped into another friend who had seen her, but he said she had gone looking for ecstasy, so it wasn’t likely we’d find her either.

We kept going, but we eventually had to stop and turn around, because we had to get back to our groups, and she was nowhere to be found. It is hard to save people.

Walking back was hard, but then we ran into a guy on the street who said some awful things about women and the things he wanted to do with them that night… and I got really upset. No. “Really upset” is an understatement. It’s not often I want to go and punch someone’s teeth out, but I had to hold onto the sleeping bag to not do so. And I got dizzy, and very sad, sick to my stomach, and couldn’t breathe, and needed to sit down. We had prayed to find her, and we just couldn’t. We asked God to bring her to us, and she was nowhere to be found. And… when people say such degrading horrible things… like, not here. Not today. Not with the freedoms, acceptance and tolerance we boast of should this happen.

When we’re walking with big groups full of American people seeing the city, people don’t say things to you, and the street feels much safer. Being alone, or in a pair where you don’t look like you’re on a missions trip, is a completely different story. Tim and I saw someone that looked like a friend we had seen sitting next to the girl, but when we walked over, we saw that it wasn’t anyone we knew, and that not only was he very drunk, he was with four other big guys who were very drunk. They saw the sleeping bag and just snatched it out of our hands, saying, “give it to me, give it to me” and we couldn’t fight back or take it back from them, because who knows what they would have done? I’m certain they would have mugged us, or beat us up, or worse; it’s hard to say what can happen when people are very drunk like that.

Here are my thoughts on it: do I abandon hope over one situation, when I cannot see the long-term effects of everything? Do I get mad at God for a prayer unanswered? Do I naively cling to optimism, and shrug it off, saying it’s all just God’s will? I don’t know where the girl ended up, or if she ended up going off with someone, or what happened with the drunk guys who took our sleeping bag. They would need a sleeping bag as much as she does, yet may be less likely to ever get one because they don’t evoke pity the same way the girl did. Everyone has a reason for acting the way they do, like, if someone is acting angry, or uncomfortable, or nervous, there are usually deeper reasons, and deeper brokenness to be found, and those guys are just as human as we are, and just as worthy of redemption as we are. I don’t know their life stories. I don’t even know their names. Can they not deserve that benefit of redemption? And should we assume that the sleeping bag is being put to good use? Of course it is: a sleeping bag is a rare and valuable commodity on the streets. As for the comments about women… my reaction is legitimate, well-founded, and both personal and just… angry at the world. I hate feeling that type of powerlessness, and righteous anger when you come up against mountains that seem insurmountable. Fighting poverty, abuse, and situations where people are born in places where the world is just against you from the moment you come out, and I just don’t know what to do about it, and want desperately to fix it all.

But I can’t. Of course I can’t, I’m just one, and I’m very small. God is much, much, much bigger than I am, and I pray He’ll use me in ways I never dreamed, as He has already. I can get mad over one situation, or remember the millions of times I have never been let down, and be in awe over those. There are many things I cannot do, which is why we have each other, right? Tim and I had done a good thing, and I saw God in the deed itself, and in where we were led tonight, and the desperation we felt as we ran, trying to find that girl. It was something small and simple, but we were so desperate, as though we were trying to save her life. In a world where we love control, and we live by schedules, and numbers, and wanting to know everything, all at once, letting go, and knowing that we do not know the full consequence of the events that transpired tonight, is hard. I don’t know how buying a girl a hotdog saved her, or whatever happened to the guys who took our sleeping bag. You just… hope and pray, not for the best, but certainly for completeness in everything, and wholeness to all that happens.

Kay. I go to bed now.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Three Weeks Left!?

Wow. I haven’t written in such a long time because it feels like such a whirlwind once I’m in the thick of it. There’s so many things to think about, so many people to meet, and just so much to do and see!

When you’re in the thick of it, you never think about the impact you’re making, or if you’re making any impact at all.

I mean, we’re meeting so many people, and coming across so many stories, some of them hilarious, or inspiring, or absolutely heartbreaking. It’s all so crazy. Some people’s stories are just so crazy and sad, and I grew up in such a comfortable life that I wonder what I’m doing here, talking to that person, and what it all means.

One day, a couple of weeks ago, I found a card in the mess of my room that had a verse on it about boasting in our weaknesses, because through it God is glorified, and He uses us. And it’s true. The work we do here, and the intensity of it, is so absolutely insane that there is no way it can possibly be done without Him. That never fails to impact me, just how much I can see things come together, or see groups come in that are scared, awkward, and unsure how to serve, but then by the time they leave, they have tears in their eyes, and I can’t help but hope for the future, and wonder what might happen. It’s all so intricate, like a big web that you can’t see the end of, and can’t see the connections, but they are all there, and they are all connected, and it’s truly amazing.

It’s neat to feel like I’m being impacted, as people are being impacted, and we’re all really in this together, growing, learning, breaking, and restoring.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The first poem I've written in years...

You know...
I'm starting to remember myself again.
Little glimmers of light in such unexpected moments,
burst forth.
But I dare not speak too fast...
Lest it is a bubble, daring to pop,
A butterfly with gossamer wings,
That if it were touched, would float to the earth,
Never to fly again.

Monday, June 7, 2010


In a couple of hours, the first church group is going to come. They're going to think I know everything about the city, and about homelessness, and that I'm super experienced in everything. They're silly! I don't know these things! I don't feel ready, but I know I'm as ready as I'll ever be: I'll be just as ready to start being responsible for these groups in a month as I am now. So I'll just plunge into it and hope for the best.

Last week we went down George St. to hand out sandwiches. Now, I've never been personally afraid for my safety until I found myself on George St. There's a shelter that has 600 beds on George St. as well as a strip club. It's known as "crack central" and the shelter is known on the street as "Satan house." It's a breeding ground for theft, violence, addictions, and just like, driving down the street, you see the roughest people you've ever seen: drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, all of the lowest of the low together. So the thought of walking right into the street to hand out sandwiches really unnerved me, and I've never felt that way. Usually I'm not afraid for my safety in that way, but this street just seemed so incredibly sketchy that I figured something bad was bound to happen.

So, Mom... we ended up spending at least a half an hour on George St. When we were handing out sandwiches and socks, people came up, and were so polite, and a lot of them said "God bless!" and expressed a lot of appreciation. I got into a conversation with a guy on a wheelchair who got into a fight and broke his leg. He was really rough around the edges, but really friendly as well. At one point he pulled a bible out of his bag and started naming off all these verses, and getting me to read them, and being like, "See? This is important stuff! Don't forget that, okay?" and even reciting the verses with me as I read! He definitely knew his stuff, and was asking me to give him verses to read. I couldn't come up with verses fast enough, and it felt kind of strange standing in front of "Satan house" reading a bible out loud with this guy.

It was a really good experience gaining a different perspective on such a rough area. It really gives a depth of humanity to such a low place, to realize and know that there are people there who love and are pursuing God, and are trying to get back on their feet in the midst of such darkness. What a good challenge to me, to allow my perspectives and judgments to continue to fly out the window, and love people for who they are. I've been finding myself giving away bus tokens to guys, and today, I bought a coffee for another guy, and when I gave it to him, I saw a lady smiling at me when she saw what I did. But I didn't even do it thinking about other people appreciating it: the guy wanted a coffee, and I could get him one, so I did.

Last week, I volunteered at this really amazing place where they had a factory for people with mental illnesses. So those people who otherwise wouldn't be able to work were given the dignity and opportunity to have a job and be able to get hours, wages, and breaks. They could be... normal. I loved it. I do like factory work for not having to think too much, and I got into some awesome conversations with the people next to me: a girl who just graduated with a social work degree and was doing her placement there, and another guy who seemed to know everything there was to know about everything. The guy would ask me what I thought about different world issues, and then, when the other girl had gone to help somebody else, said to me that I should talk to the girl, and become friends with her because, "Two ships should never have to sail by each other without ever spending time together." - one of the wisest things anybody has ever said to me. They even had a piano in their staff lounge, and when I started jamming on it, another guy who worked in the factory came by, and asked if he could play, revealing to actually be a classical pianist. Boy, I can't wait to go back there.

Another place we went to was a restaurant that would only charge a dollar for a meal, giving people the dignity of being able to buy their own food. The meals were really good food too, and we waited on them and served them in a really nice restaurant atmosphere. I really liked that place. The more I see, the more I realize just how deeply important dignity, and the chance to be normal, and not looked down upon, is so deeply important.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


This morning while driving, Sarah, one of the girls I'm working with this summer told me that she found a centipede in the bathroom. It was a couple of days ago, and really small, but one of those hairy ones, with the hundreds of long legs, and feelers! ew! I shuddered, and my eyes grew wider. But then she went on to say that this morning, she found another centipede... but this one was bigger... and she measured her fingers apart... wider and wider... a couple of inches...


And this was the legitimate, "I'm terrified out of my wits!" scream. Not many people have heard that scream! Okay... that's a lie.

Apparently, I even scared a pedestrian who was crossing the street in front of us and heard my scream. Maybe I was a little dramatic? It just kind of... came out of nowhere.

But now I'm really scared! Of centipedes!? Today, I went to the bathroom, thinking to myself, "don't think of centipedes, don't look for centipedes... stop thinking of centipedes! Frig!" - I mean, you're in a vulnerable position going to the bathroom, and that is the worst possible time I can think of to run into a 6-inch long centipede.

I have a few fears, but this one feels debilitating. There was this one time in Ghana, where there was a scorpion in my room. I was in there with my best friend from high school Anna, and we called Mat into the room because one time he had talked... unusually passionately about how he believed scorpions were the symbol of death, and the archetype of all evil. When he saw the real-life scorpion, he started freaking out, going on about how it was the symbol of death, and "this big, and it can kill you!" and I videotaped it, because it was really funny. But then some of the people came into the guest house with bug spray, and when they sprayed it, the scorpion moved. The moving scorpion suddenly registered in my mind that this bug is real, and can kill me, and it's on my WALL, above my BED... and I screamed! And then Mat took my shoe and smacked the scorpion! Killed it dead! Splat!

Like... is this weird? To be so terrified of a centipede? The scorpion I understand, but those centipedes. Mat's not even around to smack it with a shoe, which means that the responsibility falls on me. Crapface. Oh man, writing this blog entry kind of sucks, because I keep on looking around me and wondering if I'll see a centipede on my sheets or something. They really are nasty creatures. I bet they ARE evil, and ARE the symbol of death.

It's just weird that I'm so, really deeply scream-inducing scared of these things. How does one overcome a fear of centipedes???

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"I want the faith
the envies not
The passing of the days;
That sees all times and ways
More endless than the stars;
That looks at life,
Not as a little day
Of heat and strife,
But one eternal revel of delight
With God, the Friend, Adventurer, and Light.

What matter if one chapter nears the end?
What matter if the silver deck the brow?
Chanting I go
Past crimson flaming
From the autumn hills,
Past winter's snow,
To find that glad new chapter
Where God's spring
Shall lift its everlasting voice to sing.
This is the faith I seek;
It shall be mine,
A faith that looks beyond the peaks of time!"
- Ralph Spalding Cushman

There are a lot of complex situations out there. I'm not even sure where to begin. It has caused me to stop and think, about how fast, how easy, and how far any of us can fall, yet how those falls can completely change the route to go towards something greater than we could ever have imagined. I'm stunned at the courage God calls us all to have, and the paths the people I'm meeting are finding themselves on. He's so great, and so unfathomable, and it's amazing that things really do work out for something greater. I love how life orients itself like that.

I will reflect upon this week, and post soon a bit more information about what exactly I'm actually doing this summer. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Plunge time

It's been a busy past few days. I took the month of May off to not think about anything. It was a blissful and much-needed month, full of spontaneous adventures with good friends, cooking various things over campfires, and many, many episodes of The Office. Then I went to Hanover, went to Pitch, and now I'm in Toronto for the summer.

Pitch was awesome, as it always is. I knew I would love seeing old friends again, and people that I deeply care about that I hadn't seen in a very long time. It was good to see Caroline again. When I saw her luggage unpacked in my room, I got extremely excited. The speakers were great, and the music was wonderful, but those speakers, and a lot of things and conversations I had over the weekend had a tendency to really cut into my heart, and caused me to reflect about a lot of experiences this past year. It was uncomfortable, but very good in the long run. I also got some flipping sweet pictures of people and things. I'll post those soon. :)

So I got this job, with this place called Center for Student Mission, where I'll lead groups around the city and connect them to different places to do work with homeless people in the city. It's going to be busy, challenging, and stretching, but I can't begin to express how excited I am. I'm excited to have a job where I'll be doing something GOOD and serving people in a capacity that I've never explored before. I'm excited that I won't have to ask the question, "will I have enough money?" like I did last summer. I'm extremely excited to start fresh: on a clean slate, with new people, new city, and nothing really following me into the experience. I'm excited for the team I'll be working with. They're all super nice, and awesome people I've enjoyed getting to know. I'm half expecting them to burst out with something really weird about them, like they get extremely motion sick to the point of wearing a patch and sitting in the front seat, yet at the same time are skilled at trampoline acrobatics and have certification in rock climbing. Or maybe one of them will start sporting a handlebar mustache and has tear-jerk amazing singing abilities. Maybe they know the most efficient way possible to wipe after pooping. Maybe one of the people who hired me will bust out that they're actually a vinegar consultant that travels to India frequently and has a doctorate in leadership. I legitimately hope and wonder if any of the people I'm working with this summer are going to... be weird and awesome like my YB team members and leaders are (for lack of a better way to describe it) so that I don't feel like the only weirdly awesome person in the group: me with an awkward tendency to explore and get extraordinarily lost, a memory for some of the most irrelevant things, and... hairy legs.

It still feels a bit unreal that this is starting, and this is my reality for the next few months: waking up early, going all over the city, and doing this kind of work. I am a bit nervous to fully plunge into the experience: to plunge means to fully engage with all my heart into the lives and situations of the people I'll be interacting with, and put faces and names to terrible situations I can't comprehend. I know I'll be heartbroken, and I know I'll feel powerless to do anything to help, and that will make me upset and unsatisfied in a very holy way. To plunge means to take on the right responsibility to serve, love, and fight for justice. It's extremely difficult, yet extremely right and good. As nervous as I am to plunge into this summer, I'm more nervous about what would happen if I didn't allow all of this to affect me deeply and rightly. If I were to choose complacency, selfishness, and ignorant bliss over whatever it is in store for me. I don't want to miss out, and I want to be changed.

It's plunge time!!! (That honestly sounds like it has something to do with cleaning toilets, but I hope people get my point)

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Mom

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that my mom had actually gone to school at Conestoga College part-time for pre-health sciences. This really surprised me, because I never knew that she had spent any amount of time at all in Kitchener till she mentioned in passing that she used to volunteer at St. Mary's hospital while in school. She and my dad had been married for a few years at this point, and she would drive up every week from Hanover and go to school, staying at friend's houses. She had been accepted into the nursing program, but couldn't go on for it because she got pregnant with me. Apparently while being pregnant with me she got violently sick and couldn't keep any form of food down, so now since then she has a really easily brought-on gag reflex, so she wouldn't ever go into nursing now anyway.

What a strange thought! I have completely altered her life path by not really doing anything. Just... appearing out of nowhere. Crazyness. It kind of scared me to think of how often people can do that to each other. My head hurts thinking about it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


It's been a while. Not because I haven't been writing! For the first time in years, I have a MONTH off. A month of free time before I start a new adventure in Toronto. It's been nice to have so much free time, and just... relax and enjoy life. I love being on the go, if I stop moving, I get kind of "cabin-feverish" and start going stir-crazy and wanting to do stuff. But this is nice. Truth be told, this has been quite a hard year! I need a break. :)

So, I got approved to go on an exchange to India next year, in the winter. It was a very spur of the moment decision. I got into an argument with one of my friends back in March (honestly, I forget what we were arguing about, but we weren't talking or anything. It was quite weird, but I think we're all good now) and I thought to myself, "Dang! This sucks! I want to get OUT OF HERE!!! That's it... I'LL GO ON AN EXCHANGE. Ha. Take that cruel world!" so I e-mailed the exchange guy and made an appointment for the next day, filled out the application for the next day, and got approved to go to India last week.

Or so I thought.

A couple of days later the guy e-mailed me to say that the deadline for the India exchange had actually long past already, so I couldn't go there. Dang. I was hoping I'd run into Denis Bell: this really awesome and successful guy who opens vinegar factories and has a doctorate in leadership, and goes to India... all the time. I want to be like Denis when I grow up.

However, I'm still approved to go on an exchange, and I met with the guy today, and quite literally, I can go anywhere I want. So the question, "If you can go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" is an extremely relevant question to me now. And quite frankly, I don't really HAVE an answer. It's too overwhelming and awesome. I could go to Japan, or Hong Kong, or China. I could go to the UK, or France, or Spain, or Sweden, or Hungary. I could go to Iceland, or Mexico, or Australia.

So... where should I go?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today I failed my driver's test for the fifth time. I realized, that not only have I failed five driver's tests, I've been the cause of two collisions: one was in my friend's driveway where I reversed into a Saturn, the other was when I rear-ended a car on my way home from school, destroying my Saturn. Hmm. Both of my accidents involved Saturns.

I think I may be a very bad driver.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My correspondence with Wilbur

Mike Salvatore doesn't like music.

I started one of my last blogs with this title. Mike doesn't like music... until he found about about Wilbur Sargunaraj. He is this guy from India who has aviators, and a mustache, and makes these crazy songs about love marriages. They are quite repetitive, get in your head, and DO NOT LEAVE. It's really annoying. Today, I was hanging out with Mike and Mary, and thought it'd be a fun idea to e-mail Wilbur. FIVE MINUTES LATER... he responded:

Dear Wilbur,
My friend Mike is a huge fan of your excellent work. He loves to listen to the love marriage song, because he IS in a love marriage! He also likes it when people please check his blog. Mike is from Canada. Do you come to Canada often? If you do, will you be playing any shows in Toronto, so Mike can see you live?
Thank you very much Wilbur. Mike also thanks you. Keep up the great work!

Dear Mr Jessie Thankyou for the compliments! Yes I do come to Canada often and I am right now mixing my latest CD before I start the travelling again. I have thought that the Toronto might be a great place to live....just too cold! I do hope to have some concerts in Toronto. Are you on the facebook fan page sir? I will update all the events there!
Much Greetings and thankyou for your compliments Mike does not have the email sir?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Sacred and Profane Essay

Matt Gates asked me to post my essay on Queen Michal, the first wife of David, on my blog, but this one, that I JUST finished, is pretty much the accumulation of everything I have learned from two years at University, all summarized in eleven pages. So, without further ado...

"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."

Since the beginning of time, human beings have endowed with them a sense of what is sacred. People will believe that certain buildings, or places, are more sacred than others, or that different times in the day, or seasons in the year are sacred. They will have sacred ceremonies, where they venerate or worship deities, or unite two people in marriage, or ordain someone so that they may administer sacraments and know more about what is sacred. This sense to distinguish these actions, places, and times as more sacred or important than the rest of the world is fundamental to who we are as humans. However, a sense of the profane, of the ordinary in the world is just as fundamental to humans, especially since we are surrounded by the world, which, as sacred as it is, is also profane, ordinary, and mortal. These two exist side by side, and must exist in harmony, and not in discord or unbalance.

A great deal of human history has had this struggle with the balance between sacred and profanity tilting back and forward, creating all kinds of revolutions, reformations, and stark changes in thoughts and ideas throughout humanity. We are currently living in a secular age, which was brought on by the Enlightenment: a reaction against a sacred and medieval era. As we progress further with technological innovations, making it easier to move places, to communicate, and to fight wars, that fundamental sense of the sacred seems to be diminishing rapidly. When the sacred is so fundamental to how humans have behaved for thousands of years, the decline of the sense of the sacred in the face of modernity has ramifications that we are now experiencing. What exactly are these ramifications? What do these consequences entail, and what must be done in order to restore the sense of the sacred in society, if it truly needs to be restored? Different characteristics of the sacred, such as time and space, will be examined in relation to the profane characteristics, and where the difference and relationship lies.

Sacred Time: Worship

When I went to Ghana, three friends and I decided to start an Epiphany Club. The rules were that for every meeting we had, we would have to bring an epiphany we could share with the group. My first epiphany came after a visit to a village, where all of the people spent an hour or more singing and dancing in a circle with drums, clapping, and the power of their voices before we had all sat down to hear a presentation. They were in tune and aware with something that felt distinctly primitive, and it felt like something that we had lost in a society that was concerned with work, career, and monetary objectives. Yet despite all we have, we had lost something terribly important that they still had and kept safe. While we say that you need to get your homework done, and try and get that promotion, or that car, they were saying that you need to dance and sing before you buckle down and work, and the children need to play, and you need to rest.

“From the real, lead me to the real! From darkness lead me to light! From death lead me to immortality!”

Worship, by nature, regardless of the deity worshipped, is an act of humility, and self-abandonment. The worries and fears over the day, and the normal distractions become replaced with a need to slow down, and remember to have gratitude for life and to view life as a blessing; a gift we aren’t worthy to have. It is, quite simply, to remember to be thankful, and remember that we do not know all. When we think that we know everything, we become filled with pride, because we attempt to be like God , or assume that we know better than God. Worship comes in all times, whether it be times of joy or times of great suffering.

Consider the narrative of Job, in the Bible. One who is found to be sinless, yet still afflicted terribly. In the beginning, he chooses to praise God despite his suffering. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He still struggles greatly throughout the narrative with the problem of how he came to be put under such suffering, when he was found to be sinless and blameless. Finally, after his friends cannot bring consolation, God comes in a torrent, and addresses Job by fundamentally asking, what human can claim they know the ways of God? The One who made the heavens and the earth, is being questioned by one human who claims he knows better than the one who “laid the foundations of the earth.” We are not meant to know, nor should we have the audacity to claim that we do know, or have any scope into what is going on. Faith is what is important, and the humility to praise God within everything, for God is the source of life, and that must be remembered. “If he should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.”

We do not know the ways of God, yet we have created technology so that we do not need God. If we are sick, we can go to the hospital to be treated, and we do not need to pray for healing. If we are hungry, we can go to the grocery store, and we do not need to pray for food. We do not need to be thankful for the God who created each breath we breathe, but instead we can praise the technology; the assembly lines that bring products over faster, the chemicals that make food grow bigger and faster, the vehicles that can transport everything faster, and the phones and computers that can communicate everything faster.

Sacred time dies when we have no reason to worship, and nothing to be thankful for. We have no reason to set aside time to thank God for the day, or even just to relax, and sing and dance like the people in the African village do, because since we can make all technologies, and heal all ailments, what do we owe to God? When we have nothing to be thankful for, we forget to be thankful. This is deeply contrary to a human race, which has sought to worship some higher being or another since the beginning of time. For the first time ever, humans have the power of God in our hands: the power to give and take away, the power to create or destroy. What does this mean when we have the power to abandon something so fundamental to our nature as worship, to replace it with something so deeply powerful and terrifying as the power of technology that can create and destroy humankind at the push of a button?

Sacred Time: Love

“Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house and I / Do equally desire your company; / Not that we think us worthy such a guest, / But that your worth will dignify our feast / With those that come; whose grace may make that seem / Something, which else could hope for no esteem.” The very act of preparing dinner, sitting down to enjoy it in the company of people, and cleaning up afterwards, is a sacred act, and one that demands a significant amount of the day. It is sacred because it is a fundamental way to build community within a group of people, whether it be a family, a village, or a group of friends. Being in community with others is essential to who we are, for we were not created complete humans on our own. While there is value is being able to be independent, if we cannot live in community with others, then we do not learn how to love, and we do not learn to recognize the humanity in every other person.

In a fast food age, where food comes prepared, preserved, frozen, and sold to us in paper bags in less than a minute, we do not need to sit down for dinner, or even clean up for that matter. The invention of the tv-dinner also negates the need to even talk to others at the dinner table, when we don’t need a dinner table. The divorce rate in Canada (as of 2002) sits at 37.9%, which, while it has fallen, is still a significant rate. Could it be that the divorce rate occurs when we have forgotten how to build community, and have created substitutions for creating community?

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, he finds his friend in the comrade Enkidu, and has a fierce love for him like no other. “That axe, which you saw, which drew you so powerfully like love of a woman, that is the comrade whom I give you, and he will come in his strength like one of the host of heaven. He is the brave companion who rescues his friend in necessity.” They journey to all corners of the earth, and when Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh is brought to great and terrible despair and sorrow over the loss of his friend. A friendship that transcends mere interaction for the sake of interacting and becomes love, brotherly love, is a great gift to anyone to have, and a tragedy to lose. Where, in a society that has fast communication, where physical presence is not even necessary in order to communicate, is that great gift? Where is the tragedy of a lost friend?

The creation of life is sacred, because God first created life out of nothingness. When we love, we create life. We love the unlovable and show them that they are worthy to have the gift of life they have. We love instead of hate, and we live more fully, and more purposefully. One of the highest forms of love between two humans physically creates a new life. It's absolutely miraculous. In this sense, we are given the power of God, but unlike the power to wield life and death coming from a profane/technological standpoint, it is a sacred gift, and one that is aspired to. One can never learn how to love if they never learn to look beyond themselves. It is not chocolate and roses, but your very life.

Sacred Space: Sublimity

Architectural form is one of the ways to express in a physical way the sacred order of the universe. This is seen when many ancient sacred buildings are designed with an orientation to the axis, on locations that are chosen because they are sacred locations, and built with sensitivity to the divine order. They are spaces that are set apart from others: sanctuaries that are regarded to be different, special, and demanding of reverence when inside the building. Ancient churches were built with the design to lead someone to God. In ancient buildings and churches, symbols were used for interpretation: for an illiterate generation, it was a way to educate people. Symbols, religion, and buildings were an expression of a transcendent reality, and a way to express in the profane world a sacred reality.

What happens then when we do away with those ancient symbols? When stained glass becomes “impractical”, and churches are held in school gymnasiums? The physical expression of that sacred reality is forgotten about in the face of practical convenience. The forest is cut down to make way for parking lots, and building becomes a selfish pursuit rather than one that is aware of the sacred, and pursues expressing the transcendent reality. “For building is not merely a means and a way toward dwelling – to build is in itself already to dwell.”

Buildings are no longer designed with thought given to a sacred location, or an orientation to the axis mundi. Yet deep within ourselves, we cannot forget the presence of sacred spaces, as much as we try to cover them up with parking lots and malls. The Enlightenment, as stated earlier, was a reaction of rationalism against a sacred medieval era. The Romantic era was a reaction then, against the extreme rationalism, and remembers the simplistic beauty in all things and forms. Let the music play, unhindered by rules, let art loose, and let the stirrings of our heart be moved to awe by the simplest beauty. “These beauteous forms, / Through a long absence, have not been to me / As in a landscape to a blind man’s eye; / But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din / Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, / In hours of weariness, sensations sweet / Felt in the blood, and felt among the heart; / And passing into my purer mind”

Wordsworth composed a few lines above Tintern Abbey one July, remembering the sacredness of man in his most natural state. Away from the busyness of the city, of working and life, man responds surprisingly loudly to that natural beauty, as though it were thirsting for something it had been missing. This emotion is not fleeting, but something more eternal and deep to who we are, as we are moved to awe by only the sublime, is this an indication that we are missing something terribly important in our building?

We are designed to build, with eyes that see straight lines, and hands that can design and create marvelous things. Building is way to be like God, but it struggles with the battle between praise and power. We have power over the world to build and create, and with this power, we can subdue creation or express it. When we subdue creation in a pursuit of some “bigger and better” creation will just wilt away, as it has been and is currently doing. When we praise, we build in orientation to the order of things, we are sensitive to sacred spaces, and we function with creation and within creation. Building then, is sacred, because it is how we responsibly govern creation. We cannot stop building, nor can we build without this sensitivity of our responsibility to govern creation, because our fundamental instinct will still be moved to awe by the sacredness in creation. We will still be moved to silence by the stars in the sky, reverence by the roaring oceans, and sublimity by nature in its continuous act of existence.

Sacred Space: Bodies

“Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards.” The myth of Sisyphus is how one man tried to thwart the gods by seeking immortality, and seeking to be like them. This is the tale of all humanity, as it continuously seeks to be better, and be like the gods, and be immortal.

As much as we may try and hope for it, despite all of our efforts, we were born and designed to die. Our bodies will age, they will gain weight, wrinkles, and slow down, and eventually, they will die. In our age, death is hidden, and taken as far away as possible from reality. Bodies are preserved, given makeovers, and presented at funeral homes and the reality of decomposition is hidden. We are afraid of death, and afraid of the unknown beyond death.

But Socrates was not afraid of death. He viewed death as the natural goal of all of life’s work: “How inconsistent of them to have been always enemies of the body, and wanting to have the soul alone, and when this is granted to them, to be trembling and repining; instead of rejoicing at their departing to that place where, when they arrive, they hope to gain that which in life they loved (and this was wisdom), and at the same time to be rid of the company of their enemy.” He was offered a chance to escape from his friends, but refused it, and welcomes the release from preoccupation with the body. He saw death as a way to free the soul, and set the sacred out from the profane. The soul is all wisdom, immortal, self-aware, and striving for goodness, while the body is distracted by pain, pleasure, it is mortal, it gets sick and breaks, and never consistent.

If the soul is immortal, and all goodness, what have we to fear from death? do we fear that one moment the body of that loved one was moving, and animate, and the next, it has stopped, and will never moved, and has been reduced from being to object. Something fundamental has left it, and we do not know where it had gone. The energy has changed and we do not know where the energy was dispersed. But we fear death, and try to live immortal lives. We will dress nicely, and take expensive measures sometimes to prevent the look of aging.

At one point in our life, we are designed to play, at another point, work, and at another, reflect. Through living in this way, we are living as we are created to live, and that in itself, is an orientation to the order of the universe. Let children play, and let elders reflect. It is a sacred act for them to do so. It is a sacred time to die, because it is fulfilling the purpose of living. In this, hemlock tastes quite sweet.


Never throughout this discourse should the profane be viewed as wrong. It merely exists in the world as the sacred does, and the two go side by side. They must be in balance and accord with one another, and build one another up. There is a time to be in a sacred space, and aware of sacred time, and there is a time to be in profane space, and profane time. In our age, forgetting about the sacred is detrimental to living. As our last lecture concluded, “How is it that in our enlightened, 20th century of progress and innovation, are humans so fundamentally sad?” and when we are not aware of the order of the universe, and not aligning ourselves with that order, then we cannot be living fully, and therefore, cannot expect happiness. The consequences if we cannot address what is fundamental to our human make-up is the loss of life: whether it be the loss of other life through the pursuit of technology, forgetting how to love, destroying creation, and destroying death, we deny what is natural, and in doing so, prevent life. May we remember sacred times and sacred spaces, and in doing so, may we remember to create life, not through thwarting God, but through aligning ourselves with Him, and with the universe.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


It's Palm Sunday. Well, now it's Monday... I forgot to post this... :P

We are in a sacred time. The world has been sleeping, and soon it will wake up from winter and spring will arrive. Likewise, we have been in Lent, sleeping, fasting, and anticipating the unknown, the coming of the new day, and the hope that what we believe is surely true, and that the snow will melt, the sun will rise, the flowers will bloom, and Christ will conquer.

Because it must have been... terrifying. I was struck by that this morning. How terrifying it must have been, to not know, and to place all hope on something seemingly irrational. There's a Jon Foreman song I really like to listen to that has this lyric, "For these seeds to give birth to life, first they must die." in it, and it's so true - whether it's Christ's death on a cross or stepping back from something you realize is unhealthy to give it the chance to flourish. It seems irrational, and illogical that death begets life, yet it does, strangely enough, and we must have hope in it. Lent is the time when we await death to bring on new life. Those three days at the end of this week is the culmination of the most faith-filled event in history. The death of the world, to rise and triumph over evil. I hope I'm making sense, honestly, all of these ideas are just spinning away from my fingers, and I don't know what I'm going to say next. In class, we've been talking about sacred time, and how there are moments in the day that are truly sacred, and times in the year that are sacred, and that we must be aware and in solidarity of that sacredness. The order of the world is very important, and aligning ourselves with that order is also important.

This has been the most difficult and trying Lent I have ever experienced. And Facebook was the bottom of the list of my concerns this Lent, though to the outside world, it was seemingly my "only" concern because I had given up that silly website. Facebook was peanuts to being in solidarity with fasting, waiting, praying, and truly wondering... what DOES the end of the story look like? Instead, I took the forty days to step back and critically examine a lot of things in my life: relationships, goals, my wishes, hopes and dreams, and work to align myself more with God, and be in solidarity with what is taking place right now. It was a very fruitful time. I realized many things, and took the time to just rest, rejuvenate, and quietly and gently be led to think and pray on different things. I'm fairly certain that's what Lent is truly about. Not just giving up something, but doing so to place yourself in solidarity with the world, to wait, anticipate, and in that time of fasting, be led to rest and back away from what is unhealthy. Allow the healing to happen when you allow it to be taken away from your fear-filled hands and allow goodness to shine through. For these seeds to give birth to life, first they must die. The world is waking up. The ground is thawing, the flower are beginning to burst, and the birds are beginning to sing once again.

And here: Another link to a terrific blog post.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The photoshoot.

Mike Salvatore doesn't like music.

As a musician... I find this hard to believe. But he doesn't like music, I suppose the same way I do not like cold weather. Which, ironically, Mike Salvatore likes. In the summer, he and his wife Mary have two air conditioners running, side by side.

Mike Salvatore doesn't like music... until DPrime introduced him to Wilbur Sarunablahblahblah. Wilbur is this superstar from India who wears aviators and has a mustache. One of his songs is about how he wants a love marriage, not an arranged marriage. Another one has a chorus that repeatedly says (for a couple of minutes) "Please check my blog." - It's the kind of stuff that gets stuck in your head easily, and STAYS THERE. AND DOESN'T LEAVE. oi...

But you wanted to read about how the photoshoot went, I suppose. :)

What an experience. It was profound for me, to seek to really actively see the beauty within each of the people, and best present it. They were all very awkward at first, and they eventually all warmed up as I got them telling me stories about their kids, and seeing how they smiled and lit up when they told me about their children. The first lady was so beautiful, but so shy. I felt like I was slowly peeling back layers and seeking an un-posed, natural beauty to give to them to say, "See? You're beautiful. You're worthwhile. You're created." And their kids were so wonderful. They had the biggest eyes, and loveliest smiles. I wasn't sure how I would do things, but the light was AMAZING that morning. I took pictures in a church, because the light went through the stained glass windows and caused everything to just GLOW. I was so thankful for one sunny day in a week of dreary, frozen weather. It was a real blessing. I really hope for more opportunities like this. I've already been invited back to the pregnancy center. If you know of other places that will also have people in need who deserve this kind of gift, please let me know! (I will stick to posting two photos from this awesome experience on

Tomorrow's my birthday. I'll be twenty-one. I have twenty one blessings. I don't feel older, but I do feel a more profound awareness of how young I am, and how much life there is out there to live. And that really excites me. I wonder what new adventure is next!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ends and Beginnings

This morning in class I filled out my first course evaluation forms. This means the semester is almost over. Which it is. In two weeks, classes will be done, exams will begin, and... *hopefully* I'll have a clearer idea of where I'm living and what I'm doing this summer. At the moment I feel like a fisherman, and I've cast out all these lines, and I'm waiting for something to bite back.

Tomorrow morning, I have a photoshoot with a pregnancy center. I can't begin to express my excitement in this! Things are coming together. My dreams are turning into realities. I bought a camera about a month ago. It was a decision I had been sitting on and contemplating for a long time. I didn't just want to buy a camera for a selfish reason though. See, Canon and Nikon had a very good idea of making the digital SLR camera extremely marketable, so that anybody who had about $1000 could buy for themselves everything they needed to get started in photography. They even stuck an auto function on their SLR's. So it's very easy to find "photographers" these days. Anybody who has a bit of money can do it. So, I wanted to do something different. Anybody can take macro shots of flowers. So I bought the camera with the thought that I can impart something truly good to people. A portrait is something somebody will keep for years, maybe their entire life. But portraits are expensive. So I started contacting pregnancy centers and other places (with the help of my friends at EBC who do field eds at such places!) and offering to do free portraits. And I have my first one tomorrow. I'm really excited, but also nervous. By no stretch of the imagination am I a professional portrait photographer. I've never even done this before! I've been practicing, and doing research (haha, looking at photography websites) and I have ideas. Tomorrow will tell. I really can't wait.

My friend Becca also posted a really beautiful post recently. It was relevant to me, and I really appreciated reading it. Check it out:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Where the wild photos are


I will post my photos on a different website. This website is

My blog will still be on here. But if you like my pictures, feel free to check out my photoblog!

(This is being done because tumblr is a much better photo-hosting site than blogger, but since tons of people subscribe to this blog, I feel bad changing my blog site out of the blue. So I will post blogs on here, and pictures and update on my photo adventuring on

Thank you! :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Check-in time!

There was an issue at work last week, where I had the same conversation with the other two girls I worked with about how they were unhappy about some stuff that had happened. So I contacted my boss, and we got to sit down, and meet about it, and talk about the best and most loving way to resolve the conflict so there wouldn't be dissent among the team. She ended up meeting with the other two girls, and talking to them so that they felt like they were being heard, and that the issues would be addressed. (See why I like my job! I can openly and honestly talk with my co-workers and solve things in a positive environment where there's room for growth, and support!)

Later, the one girl I worked with, Thusa, said to me that she thought I should do a seminar on conflict resolution for a work meeting, and that I had life skills to impart. (Really? I get into conflict all the time! I'm very humbled though that she thinks I am an "expert" on conflict resolution enough to do a seminar on it) And Lia (my boss) was asking my advice and input about how she should address and talk to the other people on the team, and listening to the ideas that I had about how to resolve the dissent the others were experiencing. She ended up taking my advice too. I was humbled, again.

On another day, Sarah, the other girl I work with, was talking with me about it, when she said,

"You know what would be really healthy and beneficial to have? It'd be good if we can meet one on one with Lia maybe once a month, and be able to openly address any conflicts, and talk about things that are going well, as well as things that need to be improved."

"You mean like... a CHECK-IN??"* I asked.

"Yeah! A check-in! And then she can know if we're stressed out about other things, and if there's conflicts to bring up, and she can talk to us about things we can improve on!"

"And we can talk about our stress levels! And bring up action requests!"

"Yeah! Check-ins are so healthy! I'm definitely going to bring it up at the next meeting that having a monthly check-in so that there's open communication and honesty about what's going on is a really healthy thing to have!"

In conclusion, it's official. It's been two years, yet YouthBuilders still manages to find a way to permeate itself into every single aspect of my life. That may not be a bad thing though. :)

*We had check-ins every day on YouthBuilders. It was a time we set aside to talk about stress levels, things we appreciated about either the people we met, each other, or anything else (it's always healthy to voice appreciations) as well as to bring up any issues that might be going on, and to address all people's sides of the story, and hopefully come to a resolution of the conflict. The other team apparently, had really great check-ins, from what I heard. Our check-ins were usually quite painful, stress-filled, two-hour long terrible processes that required recuperation afterward. But either way, the check-in is one of the most open and welcoming (depending on who with...) environments I know of to address issues.

Also! On another note: Angela told me yesterday that apparently fish, and soy, are both extremely, very very very good for your skin. This excited me, because sushi is mostly, fish, and soy sauce. Therefore, I should eat more sushi. Take that, Dan Cook!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lent, and the job fair

Lent is halfway over, now. Over halfway over, as of yesterday. I have never kept count of Lent, or counted down the days. One of the things I've been learning in school, and in life, is that the order of things is of utmost importance, and maintaining awareness of that inherent and intrinsic order. Oi, that makes no sense. I was explaining it to Becca the other day. Right now, the world is sleeping, and beginning it's wake up from being frozen and sleeping into welcoming spring once again. It's also Lent right now, so it's a time of anticipation, and fasting, and awaiting. Out of the darkness and into the light. That is what the world is in right now, and that's how I feel right now. I only gave up Facebook for Lent, yet I feel like I'm anticipating something bigger. I've never been so excited for Easter. Lent has never been so slow, and trying, and Facebook is not the difficult part. Weird thing is, I really don't know what is going on...

I did something monumentally stupid the other day. At least, depending on how one looks at it, it's either stupid, or hilarious. I'm not troubled about it, looking back. I went to a job fair at The Aud. I was hanging out with Isaiah in the morning, then I got dropped off there. There was a forty minute long lineup of people who all... looked the same. They all were wearing suits, and had briefcases, and were clutching resumes. I had this suitjacket/hoody thinger that Angela gave me (that I REALLY like) on, and my tye-dye bag from Ghana, and my camera bag. I looked twenty years younger than everyone else, (because I AM...) and very much out of place, and out of league. I only had three resumes on hand because my printer ran out of paper and I needed to conserve the next few pages I have to print off an essay. It was really cold out, not to mention, and I have no body heat, so I just freeze. So, being cold, feeling like I am not in the right place, not to mention standing in a line... (I do believe, especially from seeing lineups at Tim Horton's, that lineups are a symbol of bureaucracy, and the dehumanizing effect of "the system." I can pull out my notes from RS 121: Evil class I took last year to prove that my profs also believe that bureaucracy is evil. Since lineups symbolize bureaucracy, let's jump and say lineups = bureaucracy. Bureaucracy = evil, igitur lineups = evil.) (I'm just saying igitur... because it's the only word I remember from Latin 101. It means "therefore." Wait. I remember Sapientia. That mean's "wisdom")

So, the prospect of standing for forty minutes in the cold in a place where I did not feel I belonged, and I also believed to be evil (in a way like how scorpions and mantis shrimp are evil, y'know? I use those two terrible creatures because I've personally seen how evil they can be. But those are other stories to tell)... was no longer appealing. So I pulled out my camera, strolled into the building, and pretended I was the hired photographer for the event. That is... until the actual photographer for the event showed up, and they realized they had no idea who I was, and asked me to leave. So... no job for Jessie. I'm definitely a job snob. This is because, in the past, I've had wonderful excellent jobs, so I set high standards, and I want to enjoy wherever I find myself working. I walked home wondering if I was a total idiot, or doomed to be poor the rest of my life, and then realized two things: A) I am WAY too hard on myself. I'm not an idiot, and yes, that was a perfectly useless exploit, but one that'll make a funny story in the long run, and B) the significance of that job fair will vanish in not too long at all. I made a better memory from what I did, and I recognized that I have high integrity about what and where I'll work for. This is good. Even better, I took a really awesome picture of this really happy looking tree stump while walking home. The sun was out, the colors were gorgeous, the light was perfect, and the weather was fresh. I got some fantastic photos. That may have made it worth it in the end.

*For the record, I wouldn't do something as stupid like that without a "plan B"... later that night I had a phone interview for a neat summer job I applied for back in January, that finally contacted me! And they liked me a lot! Yay! And I got rid of my resumes by dropping them off at places that I would ENJOY working later that afternoon. I am going to be fine, this I am confident in.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The LAST Mini-Saga, and my reflections on the week

The people who owned the car I rear-ended said to me, “Money is common. It comes and goes, but somehow we manage to pull through.” Whenever I get nervous about this uncertain future, I remember the people I crashed into, and think that I worry about too many menial things.

Now... this has been an interesting week. It's been good for me to find a medium in which I can quickly express my thoughts creatively. While I was on YouthBuilders, I did a really expensive and comprehensive personality analysis called the Highlands Ability Battery (There's more info about this thing on and they basically said, that because I scored very high in musical ability (pitch, tonal, and rhythmic recognition) that I NEEDED to have music, or a creative outlet in my life, or it would be very, very, very bad for me. This isn't music, but it is a creative outlet, and I wonder if that kind of creativity or need to express it is the same as the need to express and play music.

I've struggled in University, because I decided to go to school so I could pursue being a writer, but University has given me the worst writer's block I've ever had! So I've been submitting long stories, poems, and narratives instead of essays whenever I get the chance (There really is only one professor that I know of who will tolerate it, which is one of many, many reasons why I keep on signing up for his course! Though I honestly do read those essay outlines very very carefully to find another course that will give me this freedom) because I think that one of the ways I most effectively express my thoughts, not just through writing, but through writing creatively. It's refreshing to me to find a place where I can express this creativity quickly, and effectively, and still be challenged in the effort of writing a story that's only fifty words long. I wrote far more than seven mini-sagas. All in all, this was a positive assignment, and I think I will continue writing mini-sagas for my own sake. :) Mini-sagas = win.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mini Saga #6

Traffic stopped this morning for two geese crossing the street. Two feathered people, going on a quiet morning stroll; they took their time, oblivious to the busy schedules of mediocrity that ticked around them as they took in the morning sun. I think we have much to learn from geese.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mini Saga #5

It took my queen, and both of my rooks to corner you. I was afraid you’d swoop in with your bishop but I was always one move ahead. I left my king undefended, but I was determined, and I had a faint feeling that this game was mine. Check Mate.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mini Saga #4

We had journeyed for so long to find that treasure. We had spent all we had, going to the darkest corners of the earth, and standing at the top of mountains where the sun shone brightest. When we finally found the treasure, you looked at me and said, “Now what?”

On another note: Angela sent me a link to one of the most beautiful and enigmatic music videos I've ever seen. Check it out:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mini-saga #3

Once when I was young, my dad asked me to light the stove. I didn’t know what a pilot light was, and as I stuck the match in, the flames jumped up and seared me. It was a terribly great way to teach a little girl how to be careful.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mini-saga #2

Death doesn’t look so scary when it’s sitting in a cup on the table. Nor does it feel scary when what it amounts to is the culmination of life’s work. Now my soul can be freed from my body. In death I will live. In this, hemlock tastes quite sweet.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I found this blog, that this guy in London ON is doing, where every week of the year, he tackles a new project, and does something new. (Wow. I'm really bad at explaining it. Way to be vague, Jessie! You should check out his blog, though. :)

But week 7 (While week 6 was extremely cool) seemed to be pretty awesome. For every day of the week, he wrote a mini saga. Which, according to Wikipedia, is, "A minisaga is a short piece of writing containing exactly 50 words, plus a title of up to 15 words. However, the title requirement is not always enforced and sometimes eliminated altogether. Mini sagas are alternately known as microstories and ultra-shorts."

I haven't done any creative writing since my last essay (The dialogue between the Boy and the Fairy Queen) so I think this would be fun to do. So every day this week I'll post a new mini saga, and see how they go. I'll start with today:

He observed the lovely weather today. I wondered if he had ulterior motives. We sat together on the bus and talked about living in Calgary. I asked open-ended questions so I didn’t have to speak. Maybe I don’t have anything to talk about. Maybe I'm just too afraid to trust.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Forgiving others becomes easy in the terrifying and challenging task of forgiving yourself. Hmm. That's all I want to say.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lambs and Lions (OR, Throwing up: My Toronto Adventure)

It all started when I threw up on the 7C going towards the terminal at about 8:15am. The bus was very crowded, mostly with elementary and high school students on their way to class, so I was standing at the front of the bus. Thankfully there was a garbage can also at the front of the bus, so I threw up into that. Nobody seemed to notice, and I felt extremely dirty, or like I had done something very lowly and disgusting, even though I couldn't help it.

I haven't thrown up in years. At first I thought it was because I hadn't eaten breakfast that morning, and I had taken a shower. If I wake up before a certain hour (still not sure what the hour is, but I think it's 8:00am) and I don't eat anything, my body will shut down and I'll be extremely weak for a long time until I can get some food into me. Also, for some strange reason, showering seems to drain a lot of energy out of me, and the combination of not showering and not eating at an early hour is enough to render me incapacitated for quite a while! But I've never thrown up from it... I thought I was used to this by now, and kind of appreciative of how forcefully my body makes me have to eat healthily, but I never expected to hurl. I tried calling Mike and Mary to see if they could pick me up from the terminal, and get me to a place where I could rest and eat, but they weren't home, and it turned out they would be gone for a few days. So I decided to continue on my trip to Toronto.

One of my friends told me about a ministry in Toronto called MoveIn a couple of weeks ago, where people live in community in various parts of the city where there's a lot of need and try to fulfill that need, and basically, share the love of Christ. It really, really excited me when I heard about it, and one would be a fool to ignore such excitement, so I researched them, and e-mailed them, and set up a time to come down and visit and see exactly what it is they do. I didn't really tell any of my friends about it, and I kept this all quiet (whenever people asked why I was going, I just answered by saying, "Commune Hunting!" and left it at that) because I wanted to go completely by myself and for myself, and not have others assuming any other reason than that, simply because... there is no other reason. It's also healthy (at least for me) once in a while to go on adventures solo - I have yet to find others who are up to the kind of adventures I like to go on.

So when I found no ride home from the terminal, I thought that getting a yogurt from the convenience store would be sufficient and I could make it and would be fine for the rest of the trip. So I went ahead and got on the Greyhound to Toronto... but shortly after we left, I threw up again. There was no other place to throw up but the aisle, and I got vomit all over my sweater (that I JUST washed! That laundry costs a lot of money. Sheesh.) and all over my bag. People started shoving things in my direction, like paper towels, and bags. I threw up again after that, and it was the first time I had puked in a bag before. The number of public transit vehicles I've thrown up in went from zero to two in the space of an hour. Somebody gave me a gravol, and another gave me a bottle of water. When I got to the terminal, I still felt extremely weak, so I tried to contact the people I was meeting, but they weren't responding to my phone calls, or text messages. I opted then for the only other person I knew in Toronto who might help me: Mitchell Peterson. I'm pretty sure he had a crush on me at some point, but I figured I wasn't really crush-worthy today, being covered in vomit and all. He told me to take the subway to Finch where he could find me and pick me up and get me somewhere safe.

I didn't throw up on the subway, but I got real close. I started asking the guy next to me open-ended questions to try and distract myself from that awful feeling, and he was really understanding and good at talking and trying to get me out of motion sickness. He pointed me in the right direction and I went into a shopping center to wait for Mitchell. I sat across from this older lady who gave me a tylenol and started telling me about how she had been married for 56 years, and liked using e-mail, and drove every week to Toronto to take her friend to the doctor's when I started feeling sick again, so I thanked her for the good company, and went up an escalator, but that was a REAL bad idea... I threw up in a garbage can at the top of the escalator. A stranger saw me blowing chunks and bought me a can of ginger ale. Another stranger came while I was collapsed on the ground and made sure I was fine and helped me find a place to sit. Strangers are so kind sometimes. I can never get over how blessed I am by complete strangers.

Mitchell picked me up and took me to Tyndale University, where he lived. He had to go to class so I went and slept in their common lounge. I felt kind of strange, being a total stranger completely unconscious in a common area, but I was in so much pain, and my head hurt so much that it concerned me much less than it usually would. At this point I had finally managed to touch base with the MoveIn people so they knew I was there and they were able to come pick me up, so I slept until they phoned me telling me they had arrived. Of course the effort of moving downstairs to the main doors to meet them caused me to throw up again, but this time I had the luxury of barfing into a toilet. AND it tasted like ginger ale... kind of. But not a bad deal all in all.

They took me back to their community, where I crashed on a pull-out couch for a couple of hours, waking up every so often to go and throw up. I was dry-heaving at this point, so I was trying to drink water so that I'd have something to regurgitate, even though I felt it was counter-productive, and causing me to throw up more. It is an awful feeling being alone and sick and throwing up in a strange place, and not being entirely sure what to do about it. At one point, (I may have been delirious but it was an excellent idea) I pulled out my laptop, starting pirating internet signals, and sending out messages to friends asking them to pray for me. That was cool, because I actually FELT the prayers, and felt reassured knowing that I do have friends back at home that cared for me so much, and in the right capacity, and were praying for me. I got this great idea too to have a half-full bottle of water open at my side, and I fell asleep holding it, but whenever I moved, I felt it, so I woke up and drank more of it. This caused me to be able to finish a whole bottle of water - a huge accomplishment! I texted Mat and told him this because one time when I was sick he had talked for an unusual amount of time about the value of drinking water, and lots of it, and how your pee needed to be a certain color - I think he mentioned electrolytes and cell composition as well. But water water water, everyone says this, and as much as it hurts when you're sick, you have to have it.

Later that evening, I felt better, at least enough to talk to people and eat half a slice of toast and a few pieces of asparagus. We went to a prayer meeting, and I was touched - they were so moved to pray for people in their community, just because they felt the need to, and prayed so much, for a couple of hours, at least. It's much, much more important to see love in action, at least for me, than to hear stories about it. I heard their hearts breaking for the people they loved around them. I was trying so hard to participate; I felt bad being with strangers and being so sick and incapacitated. But they were so kind and understanding.

The next day I felt well enough in the morning, I even had some cereal. But then I had another shower... I didn't want to, because I knew it would drain all the energy I had. But I had vomit caked in my hair, and I was certain that wasn't good. That did it in for me. I went to their office to help out a bit, but all I had energy for was to help label some cases for them. They were constantly doing research on neighbourhoods that were in need, and praying for teams to fulfill all those needs. So many neighbourhoods, and they had write-ups for all of them, and were always finding more and praying for more. I was exhausted after that, and could only eat a couple bites of KD before I called it quits and went back, and slept for the remainder of the afternoon. I realized I'd be too weak to catch the bus home so I called David Klumpenhower and asked him to pick me up, but he couldn't come till midnight. Klumpy has to be one of the most generous, selfless people I know, and I knew he would go out of his way to come at midnight to Toronto just because he bends over backwards for his friends. I told him to not come because I didn't want to take advantage of his incredible generosity. I have excellent friends. They pray for me, and drive to Toronto for me, and go out of their way to pick me up in Toronto and get me to safety. And they read my blog. :) But when I woke up, I felt completely better, albeit a bit weak from everything.

We went to visit people after that - I wasn't sure what that'd be like, and truthfully, the other girls were nervous too. We only got to go to one apartment though. As soon as they answered, they seemed so happy, like they were expecting us, and welcomed us in, and invited us to sit, then started serving us tea and candy and cupcakes until we were stuffed. They were a family from Afghanistan: a sister and brother in high school, living with their older sister, and their niece and nephew, while their parents were still in Afghanistan. They told us about the trouble of finding work and having money, and then about how hard it is to learn English (though their English was excellent!) and their hopes for going to university. They just poured out their life story, and we barely asked. I was so surprised. I realized that sometimes, the idea of evangelizing to people seems more daunting than it actually is, and people just want to talk. I wasn't sure if the girl was lonely, or if people from Afghanistan are just incredibly hospitable by culture. As soon as she heard I was a religious studies student, she talked about how she wanted to learn more about religions. We stayed there for a long time, till we were out of time to visit other people.

There is a great deal of admirable conviction and faith that goes into a decision to live in a not-necessarily comfortable place for the sole purpose of sharing God's love with those around you. And I have been really impacted and inspired by the actions resulting from their faith by having the courage to step out and the humility to trust God in all they do. I felt like my "throwing up" episode was, somehow, a purge of a lot of things in my life that needed to go. I really learned a lot. And I've made changes I didn't realize I needed to make. Some of them are big, and scary, and exciting. I'm still learning, and God is working, and I am so excited, and surprised that so much seems to be coming out of a trip that was spent being mostly unconscious or throwing up. These changes are far better asked about in person. A blog will never do justice. And please ask. I'd love to tell. May this inspiration be long lasting, and not the result of one pivotal experience. May I live up to the daring dreams I'm having, and have the courage to love. May I not be afraid, for it takes more courage to be a lamb than a lion.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Unjoined thoughts and a funny, funny story

- I was worried for a day or two that the only gift I would receive for Valentine's day was this free condom from some people at the University of Waterloo. The only thing I can think of doing with it is leaving it in the common lounge, to make people laugh awkwardly. I wonder if that's grounds to get fined.

- I keep on caving into camera lust and going on kijiji. I also keep on dreaming these wonderful things I could do to better people's lives with a camera. i.e. giving professional-kind portraits to people who would otherwise be unable to get something like that (i.e. homeless people, maybe I should approach pregnancy centers?? hmm...). Having a really stellar picture of yourself is something you can keep for years. Since the temptation and glitter of a nice camera is so strong for me, I keep on thwarting it with ways I would use it only to glorify God. And I think I've figured out how to afford it...

But now, a funny story: Rob Halpin is my very good friend Anna's older brother, and probably one of the silliest people I know. This youth event that our group went to every year in Cornwall called Journey to the Father (one of my favorite weekends of the year) gave out these water bottles to people every single year. They were the most awkward water bottles that I had ever seen in my life. Not only had somebody decided in 2003 that ordering 3000 water bottles WITH THE YEAR PRINTED ON IT was a great idea, so that in 2004, they would hand them out, with the 3 crossed out and replaced by a 4, then in 2005, they would hand them out with the 3 and the 4 crossed out, and 2006 they still had these water bottles left, with all of these numbers being crossed out, but the bottles themselves had the slogan, "Save sex for marriage: you are worth waiting for!" printed in big bold letters on the front. Basically these were water bottles that would be used for a weekend, then hidden away in a random box for countless years, until they appear one day, provoking a lot of questions and laughs. But not the kind of water bottle that you would bring to a soccer game, or a bike trip. I can only imagine the comments that slogan can elicit. But apparently Rob used the water bottles on his bike races. (these bottles also tended to multiply, because you would get a new one every year you went to this event. And if you had siblings that went to the event too? Oi.)

I hung out with Anna and Allison last night, and Anna was telling us about how after one of his bike races, Rob had an interview at Zellers or Wal-Mart or something like that. The people interviewing Rob asked him about what his values are, and I guess Rob was thinking about the awkward water bottles, because he responded to them by saying, "I'm going to save sex for marriage!"

wow... Even typing it out is making me laugh. When Anna told the story I laughed so hard I cried. It has to be the funniest story I've heard this year thus far.

- And now, one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen. I only wish I had taken it...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Human Sciences Essay

I'm still not sure if I like how I concluded it, and I hope it's understandable. Feedback is welcome because I have yet to hand it in!

The Tragedy of Sisyphus is the ultimate tragedy of humankind for the reason alone of his discovery of meaninglessness in his punishment to eternally bear the boulder up the hill. The meaninglessness in his punishment nullifies all philosophical questions, because in his punishment, all that there is to account for humanity and life itself is meaninglessness, and nothing more. “Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards.” The world is meaningless, and thus the sacred does not exist but is a figment of profane’s imagination in this punishment.

The boy had snuck into the palace of the Fairy Queen after it was dark, and after the world had gone to sleep. He crept quietly down the long hallway with its rich colors and tall ceilings until he reached an ornate throne. The sight of the throne itself, even in the dark, moved him to awe and great fear, but still with trembling hands, he ascended the pedestal, and moved forward to seat himself on the throne. But suddenly, he heard a voice.

“You must not seat yourself upon that throne.”

The Fairy Queen had entered the darkness, and faced the boy.

“Why not?” He asked, indignantly.

“Because if you were to ascend that throne, you would destroy all that is sacred, and you do not want to do that, I can guarantee you.”

“Why do I not want to do that?” He asked again. “I don’t understand why I am unable to ascend the throne. Why am I different from you, and what ethics are in order that decree that you can sit on this throne yet I am prevented from doing so?”

The Fairy Queen nodded sadly. “I am composed of the same substance as the throne is, and you hold reverence for that substance. I know you to hold such reverence because you crept down the hallway, and you did not stroll. You regarded that throne, composed of wood and gold leaf, out of fear and awe and your hands trembled with the thought of even laying your hands upon that wood. You regard it yourself as a desecration for you to touch that throne, yet you still seek to do so, and I say, for your own sake, not for mine, but for your own and the sake of the world, heed that desecration you regard.”

“I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I do not know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it.” In this dialogue, neither is the Fairy Queen sacred or the boy profane. The boy lives with the long-held ideology of the distinction that exists between him and the Fairy Queen, and he is attempting to bridge that distinction. What Sisyphus has proven in his quest to be like the gods, is that there is no distinction, and that he can be like the gods, and seek immortality and trick them and win. In doing so, he shows that he has the same power as the gods, and that the gods are useless, and there is no need then for the sacred. If the boy were to touch that throne, he would discover only that the throne is nothing more than a chair, no more sacred than any other chair, and doing so would bring about the death of the Fairy Queen, the death of the throne, castle, and of the reverence the boy held as he crept up to the throne, moved to terror and awe. The Fairy Queen is urging him not to touch the throne not for the sake of her own life, but for the sake of protecting him from the knowledge of what substance it is she and the throne are truly made of.

“Why,” The Fairy Queen asked, “Do you wish to sit upon the throne?”

“Because I believe that there is nothing that separates me from you. I am no more special than you are, and because of that, I possess as much authority as you do to dwell in a castle, and be seated upon a throne.”

“What is it then,” She asked. “That formed this distinction between you and I in the first place? Do you value that distinction, and treasure the fact that you regard the throne and I to be composed of a different substance? If you did, then why are you seeking to destroy that substance in seating yourself upon the throne?”

“Why is it that you believe that if I were to seat myself upon the throne, the action would destroy you and the substance you and the throne are composed of?”

“Because in doing so you would unmask the substance for what it is really made of.”

The marriage of sacred and profane is an uneven union, because while both rely upon each other to exist, the profane can exist without the sacred, while the sacred cannot exist without the profane. The entire world cannot be sacred, but it is possible for the entire world to be profane. The profane, if it threatens to assert that the sacred is no more than just profane set apart, will unmask the sacred from what it is; intellectualizing the Body of Christ to be nothing more than bread and wine, the Holy of Holies only worth it’s weight not in sacred and spiritual, but monetary, physical value.

She led the boy down a corridor and into a room with a large window. Inviting him to look out the window, the Fairy Queen pointed in the distance to a deep valley. A solitary figure was in the valley, pushing a boulder up the hill. He toiled, and sweat under the weight of the boulder, and dust built up underneath him. When it finally seemed he was close enough and could reach the top, the boulder proved too heavy, and refused to cross the threshold. It toppled back down and rested finally in the valley below. With a resolute sigh, the lone figure descended the valley, ready to roll the rock up back again.

“This is Sisyphus,” The Fairy Queen said. “He tried to thwart the gods, and was sentenced to an eternity of rolling the boulder up the hill: an eternity of a meaningless existence. His tragedy is not rolling the boulder up a hill, however. Sisyphus could have been sentenced to an eternity of flying hot-air balloons, or traveling with gypsies. The tragedy is that he now knows that all things are meaningless. His life, as all the life of all humanity, has as much meaning as rolling a boulder up a hill, because you are all mortal, and all actions are equated with the same amount of eternal significance – nothing. Life is absurd, and that is all the meaning it is composed of.”

The boy looked at Sisyphus in his eternal struggle, and started to cry. “Why then, is there significance in the throne?”

“The significance exists because you attached significance to it. If you sit on the throne, the throne would become no different from any other chair. This is why you do not want to sit upon it. You would unmask the substance it is composed of to be nothing at all, and that would kill the chair, the castle, and myself in doing so. The significance that is attached to the mediocrity of the world is where the sacred can exist.”

“We must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Camus dares to put forth the idea that since everything is meaningless; the only meaning to be found is in the outlook upon the meaninglessness. Sisyphus must be happy, in order to live life, and the first step then to find the joy in life is to recognize the tragedy life is and find joy in it. In this notion, he strips all that is sacred away, because he asserts that everything has the same amount of meaning as pushing a boulder up a hill, so that there is no real existence of the sacred. The sacred only exists in the hope that the sacred must exist – it only exists because the boy had hope that the throne is more sacred than any other chair. When humanity tries to attain power like the gods; when the boy tries to sit on the throne, only then does humanity discover the tragedy of life, and the ultimatum of having joy in that tragedy, which is how one then has no choice to live. The boy is free to sit upon the throne now. In his action to try and be like the gods, he has discovered the tragedy that life is: that everything is meaningless, and that one has no choice but to take joy in the meaninglessness: tragic happiness.

The boy sat deep in thought for the remainder of the night. He sat at the window and watched as Sisyphus continued his eternal journey up the valley. He sat quietly until the sun rose in the sky and night gave way to daytime. When the sun spread her rays across the dark cool ground he knew then what was sacred, and went to find the Fairy Queen, who was sitting at the throne.

“There is nothing sacred about living in a joy one has no choice but to live because everything is meaningless. True joy cannot be found in that if one cannot choose to be joyful.” He said, looking at the Fairy Queen. “There is indeed a sacred that does exist, and it exists in the order of things. The sacred exists because the sun rises everyday and goes to sleep at night, and it is that continuous ritual that is essential to the survival of everything. It is the rituals, and the placement of everything in its rightful place that is sacred. Sisyphus should continue to carry up the boulder, because it is right, for if the sun abdicated her rightful position in the sky and refused to rise the next day, we would all die. You, as the Fairy Queen, and the throne are sacred because you are meant to be so, and it is not right for me to dare to touch it. Meaning is found in the pursuit of those rightful places in the world, and the achievement of that is the continuation of life itself, and that simplicity is a sacred ritual in and of itself, which must be preserved, preached, and remembered.”

The Fairy Queen, seated upon her throne that was sacred because it was right for it to be so, smiled.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mormons, disappointment/forgiveness, and being a girl

The other day, I was standing at the bus stop, when I saw two Mormons at the bus stop. They were very easy to distinguish. If their black attire and black nametags didn't give them away, the fact they looked absolutely frozen while I was content without hat or mittens gave away the fact that they were Mormons, they were missionaries, and they were definitely not from here. (I was also secretly proud of myself that I was actually not that cold in the weather, when usually I'm always cold, and bundle up in at least one more layer than the average person during this season. Anybody up for moving to a tropical climate for the winter??)

I love religion, and studying religion, so in my mind, there was definitely a childlike excitement. (Real-live Mormons??? Oh boy oh boy!) They didn't do the best job of answering my questions though, and most of the time I felt like they were trying to convert me. I felt bad, and told them to give me a call if ever they needed help navigating the city, particularly the bus routes (I'm almost proud of how well I've figured out that system.) and they did call me again! But it was different Mormons this time! And they tried to convert me again! I wanted to start talking to them about the Catholic church in the same way they were talking to me, but I felt kind of awkward doing so. It was a good opportunity to get a free Book of Mormon from them though, to add to my growing collection of free religious texts.

Two things completely shocked me though. One, was that I had no idea that they didn't believe in the Trinity. Mostly all Christian faiths I've interacted with have a very strong belief in God being present in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and this had never concerned me. To have people suddenly question just that one detail, like, not the existence of God, or the divinity of Jesus (though, this was about the divinity of Jesus to an extent) but just the TRINITY, threw me for a loop. I like to think I've questioned deeply a lot of things in my faith, and put myself in situations where I am seriously tested, and made to doubt what I believe in, to see if it is true. And it always has been. It kind of made me feel like I've forgotten to question this, and I didn't realize how fast I held onto that belief. The second thing that caused me great question was that it was strange to interact very closely with people of such conviction for something that many people around me believe very firmly is WRONG. In fact, it's bogus. But like, the Mormons and I prayed before we started talking, and the one Mormon girl pulled out her Bible/Book of Mormon (they can come in a two-in-one form!) and it was full of sticky notes, and little flags and bookmarks, so it was definitely well-read, and by someone who fully and wholeheartedly believes it. Encountering conviction such as that, humbles me, because I know I have that same kind of conviction, but I was disappointed as well because they said may times to me that they were SURE. You can never be sure. Faith isn't about knowing. And it's audacious of me to say that I'm CERTAIN, but I do hope with all my heart, and it is the hope that we have that is most important, and most desperate. Never sureness, but hope.

I think I've had the girliest week that I have ever had in my life. Not only is today the worst day (and only some people may understand what that means. It's not a bad day at all. Just a worst day) but Matt Harrison gave me a haircut. If Matthew Harrison ever ran for Prime Minister, I would vote for him. He seems to be the person I've ended up calling in times of trouble. He came when I crashed my car, and when I needed someone to give a boost to my mom's car, he was the one I called. I posted on Facebook that I needed a haircut, and he responded. I took up his dare, wanting to see what would happen, wondering if I was going to leave my haircut with longer leg hair than head hair. He picked me up, bright and early, and then took me to a very fancy hair salon at the mall, and bought me a professional, and one of the best-done haircuts I've ever had in my life. I was floored! What a surprise! And it turned out wonderfully, though my dreadlocks are now gone.

The next day Wendy gave me a makeover. I have a dare with a few girls on my floor that in exchange for them giving me a makeover, they'd have to go with no makeup like I do. I just like to have the freedom to touch my face whenever I want, and I also feel like I look fine without having to add anything. But I looked SO DIFFERENT. And a lot of people noticed. It was a positive feeling, for sure, and I understand a bit more of why girls do it. I definitely don't want/need to though. After my super-girly week, I just wanted to hang out with GUYS. There's just something about just sitting and playing a videogame with a bunch of guys that honestly makes me feel some form of normalcy. So I went and saw Avatar last night with a bunch of guys. It helped me feel a bit more normal, for some reason. Not to mention that was an excellent, and imaginative movie! Wow! I would see that again in a flash, and I can see why it is so well-liked.

Tonight though, I had a gig. A friend of mine invited me to play at a monthly art and music gathering called The View From Here, at a community house called The Branches. I was deeply excited, and touched that a friend that hadn't even heard me play invited me to be a featured guest at this event! This was huge! And I told all my friends about it because I was so excited. But only one of my friends ended up coming, and the majority of them made awful, awful excuses for not coming. Things like, "Oh, I have school," "Oh, I have a sore tummy." and "Oh, I'm making dinner." were said to me. I was very disappointed. I wish I could write them all a letter. And I would have appreciated it if they were more honest; it felt like they were just making up the worst excuses and that hurt more deeply than if they had just said, "No, I don't want to come." because at least in that situation I could be honest back, but instead I'm socially forced to smile and say "It's alright, I hope you get better." when I would much rather say, "Stop feeding me BULLSHIT!" It's something deeply personal to me because I've studied piano for the majority of my life, and performing and playing my music for people gives me such intense joy. I love to play for people, and I love it when people want me to play for them.

But I don't want revenge. I thought about it on the bus ride (which, when you're angry/disappointed on the bus, it makes the ride infinitely longer) and I thought I could just shake my fist at the air and say, "Someday people will be paying hundreds of dollars to hear me play! mwahahaha!" (I didn't really do that. If I were to be completely honest I'd say that I was on the verge of crying, and trying to coach myself to do a good job, nay, a BETTER job, and thoroughly enjoy it, for the sake of the ones I care about who didn't care to come) But I don't expect that any time in my life, I would reach a level of musical ability where people would pay hundreds of dollars to hear me play, nor do I want to, but that's beside the point. Last week I was confronted with the opportunity to deal with a conflict, but after a lot of thinking, praying and discussing (from a few people, too) we realized the best thing to do was not only to forgive, but to pray for them to be blessed, and hope for goodness in their lives. That needs to happen more often. There is a time to confront yes, but every single time we must forgive wholeheartedly, and that means even going so far as to genuinely hope for the best in the lives of those who wronged you. You will be wronged. You will be disappointed, and let down. None of us can perfectly fulfill that, and I've only realized that the more you know a person, and love a person, the more deeply you can hurt each other. Because you will be wronged, you must never seek to do wrong back, but do MORE good, because it is RIGHT, and that reason alone is sufficient. If they do not come to hear you play, then the next time the opportunity arises to play your heart out, you invite all those who did not care the first with the same excitement as before, because it is RIGHT and that is truly forgiving. Not only does it give second chances, it forgets about the first mistakes. Truly loving does not react out of spite for the wrong done. It can't.