lyef & thymes

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

And There He Is!!!

This is a picture of my new (and first) Nephew. He doesn't have a name yet.
My Sister, Crystel, and my Brother-in-law, Blayne, can't decide on a name so they need to wait until she is fully recovered and then they will arm wrestle for the naming rights.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Hello friends and well wishers.

This Thursday marks the end of the 27th year of Jacob, which is a monumental occassion to be certain.

To celebrate, I am going to go to the Green Room Cafe, Sunday night at 9:00pm, after church. All are invited, whether you have hung out with me many times, like Mel, or if you are a blogging bud, like Ms. Erin Wilson(ian).

Directions are as follows:

From Bloor and Bathurst head East on Bloor, to Brunswick.
Turn right (south) on Brunswick, and then down the Alley toward the big sign with the Arrow that reads "Green Room" and the shin-dig will be in there.

I am not anticipating a big deal, simply some time to hang out with friends, and talk about old times, make some new times, and all around spend some times.

Hope to see you there!

My Sister's Water Broke!

Yup, it looks like I will be an Uncle any time now. My sister, Chrystel, has been increasingly pregnant over these last nine and a half months, and my little nephew has finally decided to reveal himself to the world.

Likely there will be photos to follow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Derivation of Meaning (i've been working construction and need to do some thinking to stay sane. Come along for the ride!)

I sat at the table and reminisced. It was night, and I recalled the paper I wrote in University on Novalis' A Hymn to the Night, and the fictional story that embodied its principles, Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf.

It was a dark time for the intellect, as all of the major philosophies that were evolving in their respective time periods were fairly bleak. Novalis began writing at the turn of the 19th century, and Hesse at the turn of the 20th. Novalis was presented with the emergence of industry, faced a slow death at the hands of Tuburculosis, and was weaned into the world of thought on sour milk. But he saw hope. He saw the world, the visible, the tangible, the momentary, as elements of the day. Day, he believed, was finite, and would pass away, leading to an infinite night. Not a bleak, empty night, like Nietzsche's nihilo. No, the night Novalis wrote of contained meaning, activity, impulse, stimula. But all of the invisible sort. It was a night where the mind was free to follow any path it desired, to understand anything that it imagined fully, as though it was only just thought up for the first time. The meaning was entirely contained in the night, and none was found in the soul's journey into the night.

As I remembered encountering these thoughts for the first time, I can recall the sensation of gratitude (or maybe relief) that before I encountered Novalis I encountered Hesse.

Hermann Hesse's novel Steppenwolf embodied the characteristics of Novalis' night in a fictional person, Harry Haller. No, wait, that's wrong. Hesse's novel embodied something new. It showed how the meaning was not in the elements of the night alone, but that meaning was demonstrated in the journey INTO the night. This was a huge thought at the time, because while every other writer was saying that there was no meaning at all, Hesse was saying that this was not so. He asserted that the was inherent meaning to the individual's exixtence, and that the scope of that meaning could even be witnessed in the journey of pursuit TOWARD that meaning.

Today I sit at a table in the daytime, (literally and figuratively) and I know that all the decisions I make, energy I spend, conversations I have, people I influence, people I am influenced by, each have value, each have meaning. What's more, they help me encounter meaning along the way to finding meaning.

The journey. In as much as we are on the journey, and not yet at the destination, we find meaning here, along the way. If I had finally arrived at whatsoever destination toward which I am headed, then I would have acheived meaning, I would have attained by finality. But the very notion that i am 'along the way' to some great destination signifies that I do not yet know my ultimate meaning. Because I do not know my ultimate meaning, I am open to what changes and surprises may come my way. And there have been many.

When all else is stripped away, I believe that I come from God and am about the business of returning to God. The way has been made, and I am already one with him in Christ, and my life is the enactment, the appropriation of that One-ness. So as I am drawn nearer to meaning I am closer to that great end, the Omega.

As Boethius (or someone and now we attribute it to him) once said "Thou art the Journey, and the Journey's end."

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Warm Breeze Began to Blow

Today I finished the painting that I have been doing for my Mom, and decided that I would head in to the City. Chicago is beautiful, and while my Mom lives downtown, I hadn't yet taken the time to stroll through the city. It was so warm that I wore no coat, and walked on the shady side of the street to avoid the heat. No jokes, it was 25 degrees Celsius, in November!

The one place that I wanted to see was the Art Gallery, and I have done just that. I had been there once before, so I knew the major attractions, but since then I have been to the major galleries of Europe, and have been instructed in the art of looking at art.

My most interesting moment today happened in the impressionist room, with some cezanne, Monet, Seurat, and Picasso. I was on a seat looking at a cezanne, and it was quietly blowing my mind. Here it is:

The apples are a mess, the wine is uncorked, the clothe is askew, and the table is obviosuly two tables pushed together (follow the line at the back of the table and you will see that the left and right are at different heights, and the table clothe has a crease, which makes one of the apples impossible).

I loved the painting and studied it for about fifteen minutes, before a girl's cell phone wrang. She sat down next to me and spoke for a short time on her cellphone before hanging up. Then she looked right at me and asked "Okay man, what's so hot about this one? You've been sitting here for ever."

I told her what I liked about it, and she seemed really interested. She called some friends over, and made me tell them. Then she took me over to the Monets and asked me why they were masterpieces. It turns out her name is Monet, and her mother had named her after the artist. I explained impressionalism to her and her friends. I showed them about five paintings in all and taught them how to read a painting. It was exhilirating. I think I will do it again right now. Let's do "the Old Guitarist".

He's very old, wiry, his skin is really tight, and he's obviously underfed. His clothing is tattered, and his feet are unshod. There is no cup or hat or anything to collect money, he is not begging or performing for money. His circumstances look very bleak, and yet the music goes on. He is an artist and he must continue playing.

Picasso is an artist with no patron regularly paying him for his work. I think that this work is his way of saying that the artist values the craft above all other things. Very invocative.

So in all I have had a very nice time in Chicago. I did a lot of work, lots of painting, lots of furniture assembly, and lots of time to think about things, pray, soul-search. Nothing like hard work to rejuvenate one's joie de vivre.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Like Water off A Duck's Back

It was Sunday afternoon, and my friend Noel and I were sitting in a rental van (don't ask) in the parking lot of an American Outlet Mall (really, don't ask). It came to pass that we began to talk about the previous weekend, and one particular incident when my driving skills were brought into question. I disliked the experience, but it brought to light a deeper issue concerning being in the wrong.

This led me to wonder why I feel so strongly (consciously or subconsciously) as though I must always be right. Because it is clear to me that I do feel as though I must be right all the time. Am I the only one? Do any of you suffer from this stigma?

I have taken some time to think about it, and realize that many people behave in this way to a certain extent. Everyone I know defends their position in one way or another. I take it to another level. I sometimes fight for my position in such a way that I am not really satisfied until I know that everyone present has seen my perspective, and then, if they still disagree with me then so be it. But I do feel as though I must be heard, or else I become somewhat melancholy.

I have seen this behaviour before, in my dad. He once nearly came to blows with me over the suggestion that the Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the original six hockey teams. He was drunk at the time, and wouldn't hear otherwise. He maintained that they were not, and I knew that they were. Any attepmt to placate him on the matter was met with hostility, and he NEEDED to hear that I agreed with him before it could be resolved.

Why do I bring this up? Well, the fact is that early in life I discovered that sometimes, with some people, there was no such thing as right. I was always in the wrong, and must always be in the wrong. Any suggestion on my part that I was right and the other person was wrong would result in some sort of confrontation. Somehow I think that the lasting effect of this is that any time my perception of right is brought into question I automatically assume that I need to defend myself. Most of the time, particularly over the weekend, this is not the case. I know Noel and know that she and the other person who was poking fun at my driving were not trying to provoke me. I don't need to defend myself against them. They love me and feel at liberty to press me on issues like these. I am thankful for these type of friends.

Anyhow, enough childhood pain. Chicago is a lovely city, and having work to do gives me time to think about things. Funny that. So the more I think about this, and ask God about it, the more I learn and the more I grow. I think I will practice being comfortable with not knowing things. I am going to spend the next few weeks letting things slide off my back like water off a duck, not taking offense, not grasping at things that I should just let pass. Somehow I think that in doing so I will be better off. We'll see.

Ta Ta For Now

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Flirting with Emptiness

Hello friends and loved ones. My good friend Andrew pointed me back to a post I wrote a few months ago on community. I am glad that he did.

As I was reading it over I realized that in the craziness of moving my life back (or forward rather) to Toronto I had left a place where I was very comfortable, and had worked my way into a place of real community with the folks around me in St. Stephen.

In Toronto things are very different, which is to say that the mode of life for most people is very different. I looked at all the different views people held there, and I set out to do my darndest to change it. If you look at the four stages of community, this most closely resembles the second stage, known as chaotic community.

In my former environs I had done away with most ideas I had of “fixing” everyone, and was able to accept them and myself. In Toronto I have had a hard time accepting the way others see things, and this has deeply affected the way I see myself.

So for the last little while I have been flirting with “emptiness” as it were. Remember, emptiness is a necessary stepping stone into real community. And that is a good thing.

For all of my friends in Toronto who are reading this, be patient with me. I am growing again, and while there are some growing pains involved, there are also many blessings that I can see quite clearly. I am surrounded by people who genuinely care about my well being. I am in a stage of life where the roof has been lifted off the greenhouse, and I am able to reach for yet a higher place than I have yet known. I think this is the “mountaintop to mountaintop” life I have prayed for many times.

And for my dear friends who are not in Toronto, I have not forgotten the many lessons you have taught me about living together in community. Even as I type, beer placed neatly beside the laptop, and there is a smile on my face, because God is good.