lyef & thymes

Monday, January 31, 2005

Existential Angst

This weekend I suffered a bit of an existential crisis. In the end everything worked out, so don't start worrying, just read on.
So, this whole incarnation thing is kinda tricky, and since I met Jesus it has only become more and more involving. I used to live under a type of existential philosophy wherein I did whatever the hell I wanted at the time. It was more of a pre-determination by way of quantum-impulses sort of thing. I would be at home, thinking of coffee, and I would go out and get coffee. While I was there I would have an impulse to smoke a cigarette and would go outside and do it. I would think a comment in conversation and I would spit it out with no forethought as to it's implications. There was very little introspection or self awareness. I had no sense at all of any importance to anything I did. I didn't value anything except fulfilling the impulsive desires that came along. When I met Jesus a lot changed. Suddenly I found meaning where there was no meaning before. I saw an importance in my own existence. I don't mean to say that I became important, that I became a bigshot all of a sudden, but simply that in the act of believing that an all-powerful God had made me, I developed a larger sense of the ontological necessity of my existence. Basically I came to know that I had a purpose greater than simply following my impulses. That has proven to be a stunning revelation that has propelled me through some big changes in my life, even uncomfortable changes some of the time. The positive side of the knowledge that you are made for a purpose is that you know you can keep truckin' and that things will come around. The negative side of knowing this about yourself is that you can go weeks, even months without relaxing, without truly resting. To take this a step further, when you realize your own importance in God's created universe, you can fall into this performance anxiety, forgeting that God is able to keep you, and spending all day thinking too deeply about how to best acheive plans and aspirations that aren't entirely your own. Imagine having an employer who tells you that you are important to the company, but who fails to give you any guidelines to your role in the company, or how to do your job. At first you would enjoy a sense of encouragement "oh, I am important". But before long you would wonder what to do next, then think "I am not that important after all, as I don't know what to do around here, but everything still works out fine. These people clearly don't need me." This company allegory doesn't translate directly, but this is how I have been feeling about myself lately. I have kept myself so busy trying to "do my job", both professionally and spiritually, that I have engendered a sense of unimportance, thinking that I am tucked away in the corner, doing nothing, but somehow creation carries on just fine. Then this weekend I visitted a friend who was going through similar issues, and had decided that the moral constraints of following Jesus were not worth the trouble. There was a deep sorrow in her eyes, as though something big and serious was missing, but there was also a sense of emotional weightlessness. Nothing carried any importance. There was no burden of responsibilty or purpose to anything. It reminded my of my former Existential way of living. But tempered in the carelessness of living impulse by impulse was a small death that I had never known when I was living that way. Maybe it's because I had never known any better kind of life, and therefore didn't have that underlying self-awareness to turn my back on, as she was doing. It was the death of caring, the death of faith. Not faith in God, as a belief in the goodness of God was still present, but a death of faith in the whole arranging of life as they knew it. She knew that many of her preconceived notions about God, forgiveness, the Church, and living for Jesus were inaccurate, and rather than searching for the deeper truth behind it all, she has turned her back on anything that smacks of her old life. And to turn one's back on the way one has always lived is indeed a crushing thing. It causes immediate insecurities and anxieties that can only be seen as natural self-preservation instincts. These can cause such confusion about one's very identity, making one bring about a shocking change in personality that may be offensive to one's former friends and loved ones. I know, as I once did so myself. I went straight from being a drug addict to judging and alienating my friends for their habits with reckless abandon. I went from nascent profligacy to aggresive piety seemingly over night, and I made no apologies at the time. This friend of mine had been raised in church, and has now adopted a psuedo-christian world-view based on her own impulses, choosing to ignore any sense of greater purpose to any of this human incarnation. I travelled from having no understanding of meaning, and being a bit of a jerk, to discovering a new sense of meaning while exploding into a sense of self-righteousness that came with it. She has gone from being a kind, somewhat committed follower of Christ, to being a disenfranchised ghost in the society of people who are afraid of ghosts. I had once lived exactly as I now saw my friend living, perhaps without her sensation of alienation, sinse I had never belonged to anything to be alienated from. Now I have chosen to acknowledge and love my creator, and myself in the light of Jesus' love for me. And I do love my life. But for one day it seemed like maybe it would be easier, even better, if I had never learned of the greater life I am living now, that I might be happier if I chose to turn my back on the calling to a holy (which is to say 'set-apart for God' life that is constantly being offered to me. Perhaps it is simply because I was relaxing, having a few moments of rest from anything important or big, that I felt this way. For the first time in over a month I was really doing what God calls us to do every week, which is taking a day of rest. And the instant gratification of having no demands on my time was so glorious that I would have thrown out everything in my life that even seemed like a demand. Even as I was having these thoughts, God was about the process of wooing me all over again, causing the light to glean through the trees in just the right way to remind me that there is no greater beauty and joy than can be found in Him. The point of this blog is not to say that I have abandonned my christian faith for existential philosophy. Not even close. I guess the point is to say that I still, after seven years, and many trials, failures, and victories, have the capacity at any moment in time to doubt myself, and my decision to follow Christ. What surprised me about it is how much it shook me at the time. I guess I believed that my faith was above reproach, then found myself wondering if I really had what it took to live this life. Of course I don't but that's the miracle. I live it anyway. And what finally brought back the peace was advice from King David. He said in psalm 42 "Why are you so in despair, oh my soul? why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God for I will yet praise him for the help of my countenance. Therefore, while my enemies berail me, I will remember you from the land of the Jordan."
This verse tells us to remember God from better times. Is you soul disquieted? Take the time to remember a time when God was amazingly kind to you. That'll fix you right up, and bring hope back into whatever seems hopeless in your life. And furthermore, don't give up hope that you will once again praise God as you have done for the help that he gives.
I remembered God from the time he first revealed himself to me, and a thought came into my mind as I wrestled with my own existential angst. The thought was "where else am I going to go? Who else has the words of life?" And at that a peace came back to me. A smile spread across my face as I remembered that the God whom I had discovered years earlier was still the biggest and the best thing that had ever happened to me. I knew that in that very moment God had won me over again. He had wooed me with sunlight that had been ordained to shine there at that time thousands of years earlier, and through words written by King David about his own existential despair. In the end my existential crisis was just a blip on the map of my faith, but somehow I feel stronger for having gone through it, more hopeful that this whole incarnation thing is a good, it's a wonderful life. God Bless you friends.

Monday, January 24, 2005

directions to my place

from Toronto head east on the 401. get in the middle lane of the express and don't change lanes until you reach Montreal. Take the 20 east in Montreal, and head towards Sherbrooke. Eventually you must get a map, because you must drive through some backwoods Quebec terrain. After Sherbrooke, take the 172? to the Maine USA border. In Maine you will be on highway 27. Don't stop at the White Wolf Restaurant in Stratton. Keep going till you get to Skowhegan. From there take the 201 to the
I-95. Ride the I-95 to Bangor, and exit at 4-b, heading towards highway 9. Highway nine east takes you right to the St. Stephen Border, and back into Canada. once you have been through customs, turn right onto Milltown Boulevard, and then turn left on Main Street. St. Stephen's University is the first building on the left on Main street. I work in there.
Now you all have directions as to how to find me. I will indeed cook for you, if you come. Salivators are exempted from this bargain, as I will be cooking for them in the summertime.
I made a nice chicken/salmon surprise for a number of students the other day, and they all talked and chit-chatted during hors d'ouvres, as friends will do, then were very quiet during the meal. This is a good sign that they enjoyed it. A quiet dinner table among friends means that your food has something special about it. So, be ye not of Montague, come and crush a cup of wine.

Monday, January 17, 2005

A time to cook, a time to clean

Before a meal can be enjoyed, there are a number of necessary steps that must occur.
The most important of these is that food must be made available. Not only must it be made available, but it must be made availiable in a palatable form, which some of you may say stands to reason, if the stuff should be first considered food. The real joy for me comes in this stage. It's great to serve food to your friends, and have them enjoy it, and a good time is had by all. This is a nice sensation, but the precursor, the preparation is the best in my mind. I love to cut the what's-it, and season the other-thingy, and cook it all up, knowing that soon you will see that look on their faces as you present your culinary concoction that says "oh my, he really knows his way around a kitchen. Look at this stuff! What is this?" And then they bite in and all is calm and quiet for a moment. The cooking of the food, the preparation is just as good as the reaction, even a little better, I say. I love it. But what I find interesting is how, as a man who despises tidying up a mess, I can stomach it on those days when I have hosted a meal. The whole thing is so nice that even cleaning up afterwards takes on a small sense of joy all it's own. I can roll up my sleeves and wash the dishes, if I have just thoroughly enjoyed my meal. What I wonder about is how this principle avoids other areas of my life. In Music it is definately there. After a rockin' set, I don't mind tidying up the stage a bit. After bombing out, and sucking for half an hour, I want to take my bass and get the hell out of there. This seems to be the same princple. But there are some occassions when I wish I could be more enthusiastic about the drudgery. Cleaning my room: a boring chore, no matter how well I slept. Shovelling the snow: a nuisance no matter how much I enjoyed driving my car that day. Some things that are entirely necessary never seem enjoyable to me. I suspect that there is some way of seeing things that makes sense of this, and anyone who can make an honest suggestion is welcome to do so.
And if anyone wants to come over for a meal, I will happily cook for you.

Monday, January 10, 2005

I'm back now!! BRONKTH!!

Well, it has been 33 days since my last blog, but I have finally figured out my blogging problems. Thank you to the lovely tech support at
It has been a wild month, I have driven 4000km's, seen many strange and wonderful things, and many wonderful people. I have recorded an Album with a few friends, and we now exist as individuals, as well as a band called "Reluvnotion". The album will be out sometime in the spring. And now I have to find my way back into the daily grind of office work. I'll be honest with you, kind reader. I don't think humanity was created for this kind of work, and I will make no guarantees concerning how long I will continue. I shouldn't think it will be much longer after this school year, but I leave that in the hands of my very loving father, who really does take care of these things. A bigger, less enigmatic blog will come soon enough dear friends. I love ya'll.