Pastor John Van Sloten's Blog 2001-2007

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Oil Patch Envy

Sept 13, 2006


Last Wednesday a reporter from the Calgary Herald phoned and asked me for some "spiritual advice" re: her problem of "oil patch envy." She ended up writing this piece...

http://www.newhopechurch.ca/media/pdf/2006_oilpatchenvy.pdf





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fleetingness

Sept 11, 2006



“Throughout my whole life, during every minute of it, the world has been gradually lighting up and blazing before my eyes until it has come to surround me, entirely lit up from within”

Teilhard de Chardin, French Paleontologist, 1923.

“The thing we desperately need is to face the way it is.”
Theresa Mancuso, New York Hermit

I’m reading this amazing book by Annie Dillard entitled, “For the Time Being.” Existential, creative and superbly penned, this text is right down my alley! All at once it’s a book that illumines the things of life (like any good author would do) and at the same time teaches of the fleetingness of our mere mortal existence.

“Of all the world’s wonders,” the Mahabharata says, “which is most wonderful? That no man, though he sees others dying all around him, believes that he himself will die.” (page 20)

Today I sat in the ditch in my back alley for half an hour, taking photos of dying weeds. Then I went for a trek by the reservoir with my wife. Sitting on the rocks, I pulled my soaking feet out of the water and let them dry. Lifting them off of a large sun warmed stone I saw a picture of my fleetingness.




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How this all got started...

Sept 07, 2006


Over the past year, as I've been doing presentations to different groups, I've begun each of my talks with a very personal narrative; the story of of how I got called into the ministry. About a year ago I realized that all that I'm doing right now, especially as it relates to the unique vision of New Hope Church, was seeded in that calling moment; how it happened was foreshadowing how it would happen. God built the vision of this church into my personal story of 15 years ago!

If I ever write a book about this, the first chapter would read something like this...

Chapter 1 – Life #2

The architect was explaining one of his design details to me when I got the call.

“I’m in labour John... [heavy breathing]... you’re mom is going to drive me to the hospital right now... [more breathing]... you better get on the road quick!” Five minutes later I’m whizzing down the 401 heading back toward Toronto and calmly going over what was about to play out. “Baby number three - been there, done that! Same old, same old. In a few hours it’ll all be over. Wonder what it’ll be? Shouldn’t change things all that much at home (I obviously wasn’t a stay at home dad!). Hope I get there on time. Won’t be a problem.” As usual, life was in control.

By the time I arrived, Fran was right into it, and everything seemed to be proceeding normally. Then our pediatrician showed up. As she calmly assessed the situation, her demeanor suddenly changed, “The baby is breach and we need to do an emergency C-section - right now!”

“Ok, this is different... goodbye cozy delivery room equipped with a television, easy chair; hello, sterile operating theatre... hospital greens all around!” Fran wasn’t all that excited about the change of accommodation (something about not wanting to give up the nitrous gas they had given her!)

C-sections; they take all of the romance out of childbirth. Thank goodness for the one green sheet that hung between Fran’s head and her abdomen. One epidural later the two of us were having a nice conversation on one side of the table, while 3 or 4 others were frenetically rushing around on the other. We both tried to hide our worry.

Thirty minutes into the procedure, they lifted a baby out of her womb – a boy! “The cord was wrapped around his neck twice,” said the doctor, “Good thing we took this route.” I kissed Fran on the forehead and then walked over to the table where they were cleaning Edward up. The nurses were all so serious this time around; must be some kind of C-Section protocol. Looking at my new son, I thought, “Kinda yellow, a little funny looking... actually he looks a bit like my brother in law’s funny looking kids... I’m sure he’ll grow out of it.”

Then they whisked him off to the ‘special care nursery.’ “Ok, this is different, no traditional familial bonding time, obviously they need to put Fran back together again first.”

As I shuttled back and forth from the nursery to the recovery room, I sensed that something was wrong. Edward was getting a whole lot more health care attention than the other kids ever did. And he still looked kind of different. I couldn’t really put my finger on it but something was seriously off. I asked the nurse is anything was wrong. She didn’t say anything. (Hospital policy... only a doctor can tell the parents) Again I asked her if there was a problem. Silence. Head down she kept doing what she was doing with my son. Then - and I still don’t know how I knew enough to ask this question – then, I asked, “Does my baby have Down Syndrome?” The nurse lifted her head and looked me in the eye; tears were streaming down her face. Enough said. I was stunned.

On the endless walk back to the recovery room, I couldn’t even begin to process what was going on. “He’s got Down Syndrome Fran,” I blurted. I can’t even remember what we said after that. I couldn’t see, or hear, or feel. After making my second set of phone calls to family, and spending the rest of the evening sitting with Fran and the baby, I finally made my way home. Alone in my car I couldn’t stop crying; not the safest way to see the highway. When I got home I ran down the hallway, fell into my bed, and screamed out to God, “I can’t do this... there is no way in the world I can handle this... I can’t do it!”

“You’re right! You can’t. But I can,” was the response. No angel at the foot of my bed, no audible words, just that ‘know that you know that you know’ kind of feeling that only God can evoke. In the middle of total turmoil, in response to all of my ranting and raging, there was one small word of peace; of hope. But I wasn’t able to listen.

Catching my breath, and being a long term kind of thinker, I then started to run scenarios of how rotten it was going to be to be the father of a retarded child (sorry, no political correctness yet). I imagined going to church that Sunday and having to tell the entire community about my disabled son. How will I be able to talk about him when I’m not even sure that I love him? Then I thought about how crappy things would be when he was 8. We’d go bowling with other dads and their retarded kids, and they’d have to put those big bumpers in the gutters because none of the kids would be able to throw a ball straight. Then I envisioned Edward at age 18, sitting at a table at the corner of the cafeteria in high school, all by himself, staring at his lunch. Who would ever befriend a severely disabled teenager? And then lastly, I imagined him at 40, walking down some corridor of some institution, dirty, disheveled, and completely lost. At that point in his life Fran and I would be dead; only the state would be left to take care of him.

It was a very rough night.


3 months later, the pain had subsided somewhat, and I was packing for a week long trip to Rochester, New York. A year earlier I’d committed to taking a group of teens on this community service road trip thing; 6 days of helping the down and out, you know the gig. I really didn’t want to go, but Fran thought it would be good for me.

First evening there our group attended a special church service designed to welcome and orient us to the upcoming week’s activities. At the end service, as we all stood up to leave, I turned around and looked at the people in the pews behind me. Three rows back and to the left, there was, what looked to be a forty year old man with Down Syndrome. Standing beside him were two, very old, frail looking, grey haired parents. Taking in the scene, my gut churned. “That’s one of my scenarios!,” I thought. Knowing I was about to lose control, I quickly headed out to the car and called my wife. I told her what had just happened, “Obviously I’m not ready for this week yet Fran... I think I should come home.”

Fran, being a very wise and compassionate person, the kind who always listens and understands, knew what to say. “Suck it up John, right now. There’s no way you’re coming home. Get over it. Get back in that church and do what you went there to do. You’ve got a group of teens that are counting on you!” So tender - so understanding! Composing myself I walked back into the church foyer.

No sooner had I walked through the door, the man with Down Syndrome saw me. From the other side of the room he quickly made his way over and introduced himself as Mark. Then he wrapped his arms around my waist, hugged me, and lifted me off of the ground (despite poor muscle tone, DS people can often have extraordinary strength). Again, my tears were flowing. When his parents saw what their son was doing, they were horrified. He was killing an out of town visitor. Rushing over they told him to put me down. I then explained the real reason for my tears . They breathed a sigh of relief and we all talked.

They offered me a different vision of what parenting a DS boy could look like. As the father spoke, I kept looking into his eyes. “He’s OK with this,” I thought, “...with this special needs life that he’s been dealt. He’s at peace with it all. He’s OK!” One cool part of the conversation centred around a huge state funded network of group homes that he had been able to envision, start up and operate; specially designed, assisted residences for people with disabilities. Mark was living in one of those homes with a few close friends. Very cool.

Two days later our group hit the downtown streets of Rochester and were serving up lunch to the urban homeless. My job that day was handing the plate of food to the client/customer. I tried to say something nice, fun or witty to each person, at least try and make them smile. Half way through the lunch rush I was looking at Crystal’s smiling face. She was a bit younger than I, dressed in rags and all of her teeth were rotten; a drug addict living on the street. As I stared at her, she looked down to her side and introduced the next person in line, “This is my son.” An 8 year old boy with Down Syndrome.

It took me a second or two, hiding in the back corner of the kitchen, to pull myself together. I then decided to walk around to the other side of the serving counter and sit at Crystal’s table. Coincidentally, her son’s name was also Mark. We talked for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, about life as a parent of a special needs kid, about Mark’s progress and prospects. Crystal didn’t seem to grasp how tough her situation really was. Not just living in poverty, but also having to handle Mark’s special needs on top of it all. All she could do was talk about how good a boy he was. And the whole time she spoke, Mark kept pulling back his t-shirt, showing me his biceps, and telling me how strong he was. I kept looking at him. He was so beautiful. And he appeared to be quite fit. His biceps were indeed hard, and his body quite taut. He was in good shape. Comforting for me to see, knowing the hapless physical shape Edward was in at home. Surrounded by early intervention therapists we’d been working on trying to help him lift his head off of the carpet; his muscle tone was so poor! And yet this 8 year old was so strong.

Two days later our service assignment involved taking a group of disabled teens to the Buffalo Aquarium. Arriving at their group home, I fully anticipated meeting someone with Down Syndrome and I wasn’t disappointed. Sitting on the couch in the living room was an 18 year old named Joe. The moment I sat beside him he shot me this glare. When I introduced myself and asked him if he’d be joining us for the day trip, he responded by telling me that he wasn’t interested at all. It was Friday and he was heading off to the cottage for the weekend with a bunch of his friends. As he spoke he gave off this vibe like, “Why in the world would I ever want to hang around with a bunch of people like you, at some aquarium, when I could go to the lake with friends instead?” And you could tell that he would have friends. He was confident and had a pretty sharp personality. Even though he was kind of rude to me, it was perfect! Just like any other teen he had a healthy amount of disdain for the likes of an adult like me!

The next day we packed our car and began the long road trip home. Along the way, in one of those totally exhausted, no one in the car is talking, moments, I found myself thinking of home. I missed my family, and in particular I desperately wanted to see Edward. Then I realized that this was the first time I’d ever felt that toward him. And the thought hit me, “If I’m missing Edward, then that must mean I love him.” 3 months after his birth and I finally realize this regarding my own flesh and blood; I love him. And then a deep sense of peace washed over me.

The night after we arrived home I sat down to write about my Rochester experiences. As I journalled it hit me, “That night, 3 months ago, when I was lying in my bed running all of those awful scenarios of how terrible it was going to be to be Edward’s dad, God had this past week in mind. Right down to the last detail, each one of my imaginary stories was recast, retold, and redeemed.

I can still remember the moment as if it were today; sitting in my living room, laptop on my knees, my whole being trembling in the awe of it all. Overwhelmed by the profound reality of divine sovereignty, and blown away by the tangible presence of the providence of God. I had never, ever felt what I was feeling in that particular moment. It’s like I was standing before Him... seeing omni-presence, feeling all knowingness, the all powerful nature of my Creator washing over me. Never before had I ever experienced or understood what I was experiencing and understanding then.

At that precise moment I was called into the second phase of my life; into career #2; into the ministry. I was still a real estate developer at the time, and I’m not sure if the words I used were all that proper or edifying (something tells me God really didn’t really care), but I remember saying these words, “Holy S#%* God, if this is who you really are, if you really are this much in control, this big, this powerfully and mysteriously at work in the world, then I’ll do anything for you, I’ll change my whole life. The world needs to know about this!”

And little did I know, but that was the mysterious plan all along.

The Architect was showing me how things work.

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

How this all got started...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 07 2006 @ 12:40 PM PDT
John, I was just talking to Jared...he's attending New Hope..got me thinking about you so i came here for a good read. Thanks for making me cry!
Trevor

How this all got started...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, September 07 2006 @ 05:24 PM PDT
Trevor,

well you made me smile big time with that photo of you with your new wife!

it was great to see your face instead of your butt on a bike seat.

john



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Red Paper Clip

Sept 02, 2006


I just read a front page story about the guy who traded a paper clip all the way up to a house. Starting with the clip he swapped up to a pen, then to a door knob, then... eventually he trades for this house. Apparently the story is drawing worldwide attention. Why wouldn’t it? Everybody wants to believe in a windfall; that dreams really can come true. Let’s write a book about this story, maybe even make a movie!

The only thing wrong with this ‘feel good’ tale is the fact that we’re all operating under a false assumption.
Last year I remember reading a news story about the ‘out migration’ plight of rural Saskatchewan. Apparently one town (I don’t recall the name) was even giving houses away for free. Anything to stop the bleeding.

Hmmm... So I guess that that leaves us with one big question; “Is a house in Kipling Saskatchewan worth more than a paper clip?”

Red Paper Clip
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 03 2006 @ 02:22 PM PDT
I see so much of you in Thomas, it's so cool.
I have a feeling he would ask the same question.



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Back at it...

Aug 21, 2006


Just got back from a two week holiday that felt like a month; gotta love it when that happens! The time away was filled with all of the standard rest/leisure experiences (fun, sun, cycling, family, etc...), but the most meaningful event was connected to my son Edward (again).

It happened during the third leg of our adventure, in a motel lobby in Salmon Arm, BC. Hand in hand, Eddy and I headed down from our room to partake in the free continental breakfast. When we got there he started to make a move for someone else’s food (which was sitting on the counter unattended). I quickly grabbed his hand and said, “No Edward, that’s not yours!” He responded by freezing... physically he shifted into neutral, hung his head and became immobile; emotionally, relationally he shut down. I don’t know if I embarrassed him, startled him, scared him, or simply reminded him that he really didn’t know what the heck was going on. He just stood there.
And I thought for a second – thought about how I sometimes, in those little pressure moments, when something happens that’s a bit out of control, I over compensate and try to reign in the control again. In those moments I forget that Edward has a disability, that he doesn’t get it most of the time, and I react as though he were ‘normal’. Operating out of that perspective I put him in a place that he can’t handle... can’t... is unable to handle.

Walking back to our room I was overwhelmed with the sense that I needed to change something in my relationship with him. “John... you need to learn how to listen to him, understand him, experience where he lives.” But I’ve got so much other stuff to handle in my life; a huge fall season at the church; big projects, big challenges, serious issues to understand and handle. And this whole ‘vision’ thing that’s being grown in our community; learning how to read/see God already at work in the world, how can I ever find the time to know Edward more... we’re talking hours per week, days...

And yet I was convinced that I need to do this... that my ability to do everything else hinges upon it... that learning how to see in this very intimate, close to home, ‘my little boy’ place will best enable me to see God in all these other ‘bigger’ places. I need to learn how to hear God’s still, small voice in this child – his child – before I do anything else.

The lesson of that morning rings as strongly true in me now as it did then. Three times this morning I put my lap top down to accept a hug. At 11:00 am. I took a 20 minute break to walk to the store with he and Fran. At 2:15 pm. I held him for 30 seconds as he cried (mom had just chided him for cutting the limbs off of every single one of his stuffed animals). A few minutes ago Eddy and I played marbles on the living room floor; first we separated them into 6 colour groups, naming each marble’s colour as we moved it, then we picked them up with our toes and put them back into the bag, one by one.


Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 02 2006 @ 08:30 PM PDT
Maybe that's Edward's job, to teach us what is really meaningful, to help us slow down and see what life is really about. Relationships - caring for each other even when we don't understand each other - and learning from that. Compared to God, we're "disabled" too - and what a great picture, to think that maybe God would also take the time to help us put our marbles away with his feet - just to spend time with us - that he loves us that much.


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The Search for God in Gambling

Aug 14, 2006


Editorial published in the Herald on July 29th, 2006.

Why in the world do we gamble? What is it about human beings that so draws us toward a good game of chance?
It's a timely question given gaming's recent and explosive proliferation: Casinos on every corner, lottery fever in corner stores, and online gambling in our homes. And the infamous, now ubiquitous poker game Texas Hold'em is quickly becoming a pop cultural phenomenon (ask any teenage boy).
But why do we do it? I've read that some play for entertainment, which I guess means we're bored. Others say they do it for the society, for the community, which means we're not only bored, but we're also lonely.
I have a few friends who gamble for stress release, busy lives begetting a betting culture. This may be a factor. I'm sure some are into the sport of the game; others into the greed. And of course some of us gamble because we can't stop.
But what draws us into it? Do we really know what's going on? What in the human psyche draws us to the table, lures us to the lottery booth, and so pleasurably tempts us to reach inside our pockets and place that bet?
Could there be more than mere sociology or psychology at work here? Something deeper? Is it possible that what's driving us might even be connected to our spirituality? I'm not saying that we make a god out of poker, per se, or bow down to worship the roulette wheel. But I do wonder if something more serious, more
profound, is at play when we engage in games of chance.
Could the real reason we gamble lie deep within our souls?
One big attraction to the gambling gig is the experience of risk, that on-the-edge, adrenalin-pumped buzz when you know that it's all on the line. It's an exciting feeling: Totally alive! Senses are cued, the heart thumps wildly, and you're totally aware, totally there. It's an exciting place to be and, in a way, a place we're all made for. While most of us can't fulfill our need for risk via an extreme sport or a high-stakes business deal, we can go "all in" in Texas Hold'em, place a significant bet at the local casino, or just buy a lottery ticket.
What does this have to do with our spirituality? In matters of faith, the concept of risk is central. To entrust your life to God is to go "all in" - to put it all on the line.
Faith is rolling the dice. It's stepping intentionally into a place where you give up control and put your fate in the Dealer's hands. Faith is gambling with your life! Humanity's innate spiritual compulsion toward God is why we gamble. We long to get past the boredom, loneliness, busyness and addiction. We're desperate to feel fully alive again, and we take a risk to get there. Maybe, just maybe, this is the way we're supposed to be. Could God have made us with a propensity to gamble, like some divine homing device?
Then, of course, there's the whole "hitting the jackpot" side of betting. This too has its spiritual parallels. Almost every world religion has some "eternal reward." Paradise, the afterlife, heaven, nirvana, utopia...
In the spiritual game, winning that final pot is integral. We're meant to know the deep joy of that abundant place, the security of succeeding, the satisfaction of our risks rewarded. If you want to go further with the comparison, just look at Christianity's concept of grace. I can't think of a better illustration of grace than gambling. Let me explain. While most world religions would have their followers earn their way to paradise, Christians believe the opposite.
Grace means that no-one can earn the way to God. It's an unmerited gift, a freebie, something you simply need to accept. In a way, it's ridiculous, almost unfair, and totally disproportionate - like winning a lottery on a two-dollar bet. The absurd, lopsided inequality of a gambling win is a
wholly apt metaphor for this core truth of the Christian faith.
Heart-stopping risk and huge disproportionate reward: Is this why we love to gamble? Maybe we need to consider the possibility that we've been dealt "grace prone," risk-taking hearts for a reason. What are the odds? Your call.



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Seeing God on the West Coast Trail - Day Eight

Aug 05, 2006


Saturday, 5:15 am Last day

The tide is out, I’m standing on a kelp covered rock shelf, and it feels like the first day of creation.

The Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the yet unformed earth like a fog, brooding in preparation for another new day. The water is slowly roiling, the birds are beginning to sing, and my soul... my soul is awake... it’s alive!

Who can I thank for all of this? For the wonders of creation? For the splendor of the community that surrounds me? For my very life?

The beauty of it all... the thought of it all brings me to tears.

Once again I'll go over what GOD has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.
13-15 O God! Your way is holy!
No god is great like God!
You're the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.
16-19 Ocean saw you in action, God,
saw you and trembled with fear;
Deep Ocean was scared to death.
Clouds belched buckets of rain,
Sky exploded with thunder,
your arrows flashing this way and that.
From Whirlwind came your thundering voice,
Lightning exposed the world,
Earth reeled and rocked.
You strode right through Ocean,
walked straight through roaring Ocean,
but nobody saw you come or go. Psalm 77:11-19


12 kilometers to go and then rest. And on the 7th day God rested.


“In the end is the beginning...”






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Seeing God on the West Coast Trail - Day Seven

Aug 04, 2006


Friday, July 21st, - 6:00 am

I wake up and remember the one mistake I made yesterday (you don’t need to know the details). Guilt and bit of disappointment. Psalm 76 then reminds me of the fact that God does see, and does judge, and does care about the choices I make.

“Forgive me God... I know you forgive... forgiveness is your middle name.” And then I’m reminded of the parable of the unforgiving servant... the one where the guy is forgiven everything but refuses to forgive another something small... I force myself to forgive myself. If God can do it... If all that Jesus Christ was, is and means, is about forgiveness... then I can do it!

Do for GOD what you said you'd do—
he is, after all, your God.
Let everyone in town bring offerings
to the One Who Watches our every move.
Nobody gets by with anything,
no one plays fast and loose with him.

Psalm 76:11-12



Later that long, hot, hot hot day... too tired to write, too tired to set up the tent. Boredom seems to be the buzz word for the moment. Lying in the shade we’re watching sap fall from a tree, 4 of us spending 10 minutes trying to figure out which branch has sprung a leak. Meanwhile the whales continue to pass... blow spouts marking their path on the horizon, from north to south.

Tomorrow the hike is over.



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Seeing God on the West Coast Trail - Day Six

Aug 03, 2006


Thursday, 5:45 am.

Only two more nights...

Woke up to the gift of a clear blue WCT sky. A pink hue rims a layer of cloud riming a dark blue sea. From east to west, all of it upwardly fading to an eternal kind of sky blue.

I just read these words in Psalm 75, “He’s the one from east to west...” so true. A camera lens could never capture him... an ‘wide angled’ imagination will always fall short... God’s breadth is incomprehensible. The love that he frees me with, that separates my failings from how he chooses to see me, is infinitely wide!

Psalm 75 starts with these words, “We thank you, God, we thank you— your Name is our favorite word; your mighty works are all we talk about.” I thank you God, I thank you - your name is my favourite word... your mighty works are all I talk about.

“And I’m telling the story of God eternal...” Seems those words are repeated over and over again in these last few days worth of psalms. Communing with you here God, I can see why!

(Ok... so I’m sitting here on a rock overlooking the ocean, total sublime serenity, not a soul is awake yet in the camp. Then this crow lands silently beside me and caws at full volume... I screamed in response... and must have woke the entire camp!) I could have murdered that crow.


just before bedtime...

7:30 pm. and I’m done, ready for bed, exhausted, finis, toast, at the physical end of my rope, history, drained, out of gas, etc... 17 long kilometers today in the heat. Not that tough a terrain but long nonetheless. For the second day in a row we have no fog (which locals say is very rare!) The beauty continues to captivate, as did the Nitnat Narrows river crossing (we got an extended tour of the river complete with some ancient native story telling – most excellent!) Our campsite at Tsusiat falls is the best and most beautiful so far... spectacular waterfall into a warm, freshwater pool, made for swimming. A wonderful, soul cleansing, body cleaning dip. (I hadn’t washed for 5 days to this point... but then again, I don’t smell!)

Right now Ted is rubbing the back of his youngest son Callen. Cal had a tough day, but it was character building. About 12k in he got stuck in a deep mud pit... like totally stuck... and it broke him. He was a bit of a mess for the next few kilometers. I ended up telling him a story about the time I broke down, crying, in Thunder Bay; half way through my cross country bike ride last summer. We all hit our walls... we all fall short some times... enough said.

I’m noticing that there are several groups of hikers that are now choosing to camp near each other each night. We’re all making the same stops; the French connection 4some from Quebec, Mr. BC hydro and his son, Mountain man from California, the Swiss Family Robinson from Victoria, the Happy/not so happy family and us. Seems we human beings have a propensity for making community... shared experience binding us together... all of us made in our maker’s communal image!

We’re made to travel together... all before and with God.



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Seeing God on the West Coast trail - Day Five

Aug 02, 2006


After a beautiful, warm Vangoghesque star gazing evening, I had a totally rotten night’s sleep. Rude neighbours on all sides, most of the night! The audacity of it all.

At one point you think you’re hearing a freight train, and then you remember that the crashing surf is only metres to your left. Later you hear this incessant scratching sound on the sides of your tent; a bear, that mink you saw earlier that day, crabs? No, it turns out that your tent is covered with these, entomologically challenged, 1” long ‘centipede like’ things. After crawling half way up the sides of your tent, they turn horizontally, lose their footing and slide down the tent wall. Fun ride for them, annoying for both me and Thomas!

Then there was this crazy crow this morning, yammering on about breakfast or something, and then, to top it all off, in that last waking hour, one of those bugs ends up crawling on my face.

And now, looking up and over the ocean, its all so beautiful again; so serene. Quiet, as it should be.

Today I walk along side that noisy ocean, on a sun soaked beach. 11 kilometres of communion, an old man by the sea. Huge beyond my imagination; so incredibly powerful.

"With one blow you split the sea in two,
you made mincemeat of the dragon Tannin.
You lopped off the heads of Leviathan,
then served them up in a stew for the animals.
With your finger you opened up springs and creeks,
and dried up the wild floodwaters.
You own the day, you own the night;
you put stars and sun in place.
You laid out the four corners of earth,"
Psalm 74:13-17


Later that day...

What an amazing hike today... and to finish in a place like this; Cribs Creek. A cooling fog for 9 quick beach kilometers, a gorgeous, sunny, blue sky afternoon; brilliant tidal pools filled with activity and colour, and an awesome, coronary challenging bacon cheese burger from Chez Monique ($14 for the burger alone!)... perfectemon!

“With your finger you opened up the springs and creeks...”

(right now I’ve got 4 Heinekens from Chez Moniques chilling in one of those creeks... thanks God!)

And now... I’ve just seen a whale for the first time in my life... first it’s back, then its tail... and now again... and again... the leviathan that you made to play there!






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Seeing God on the West Coast Trail - Day Four

Aug 01, 2006


Woke up this morning thinking about how this hike worships God. I mean that in terms of how the act of hiking itself worships God, not the nature or the landscape per se. Although you can’t argue with the fact that both understandings are true; all creation worships him!


Anyway... here we are pushing our bodies to their max; at times utilizing them to their full potential, doing amazing things with them. Complex boulder jumps that require great balance and coordination; focused calculation and courage; every step is planned to avoid a slippery rock or root. Muscles fire up with power as you engage a large climb. Psyche steels itself for that one tough kilometer (“one step at a time”).

All systems are go and God is worshipped. Who wouldn’t feel immense pride and satisfaction at seeing something they made, work? And like any good product test – work well under maximum stress, at full RPM’s. God is honoured when we hike well! It’s a demonstration of the miracle of a human body, multiple systems, all working in concert, all praising the great Designer.

The trick in getting this worship thing, is seeing what you do, and who you are, through the eyes and heart of God. You need to see God seeing you!

All morning long I’ve been looking over my shoulder, scanning for a cougar. A sign posted on the way into camp noted that one of the felines is currently lurking about. The sign alerted me to a presence. The presence caused me to do a shoulder check once in a while. I’m aware.

I need to be aware of and alert to the prowling presence of God. I need to know what it means and how it changes how I view everything.

"But I'm in the very presence of GOD—
oh, how refreshing it is!
I've made Lord GOD my home.
GOD, I'm telling the world what you do!"
Psalm 73:28

Later that evening...

Sitting on a never ending Pacific beach again. What tedium. Got in at 3:30 this afternoon, took a nap in the sun, made some spicy dehydrated pasta meal, and drank tons of water.

The hike today was filled with adventure; many large ladders(4 slides), lots of 4 point climbs (on both hands and feet), and a few k of meandering boardwalk. We took lots of breaks; at cliff tops and in stream valleys... all of them offering outstanding tastes of nature’s grandeur. I can hardly wait for the chance to review the photos. Today was the toughest of three days for Callen; the youngest in our group at 11 years old, the stubbornest in our group at 11 years old! Half way though the day I realized that each step I take requires 2 from him. Each ladder I climb is twice as high for him. Callen is twice the man I am.



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Seeing God on the West Coast Trail - Day Three

July 31, 2006


“Rule from sea to sea, from the river to the rim.” Psalm 72:8

That bible verse seems to mean a whole lot more when you’re sitting on a driftwood log, gazing out onto an unending Pacific ocean.

People are up all over the camp site; all in various stages of ‘moving on’. Nomads, walking the face of this river to rim planet; a beach walk here, a mountain climb there, always moving – setting down camp and setting it up again. What does this all mean God?

I guess it means that we’re meant to move, meant to traverse, meant for journey. There is something about the sea to seaness of this vast planet that beckons us; the mystery of its vastness, the allure of its unseen beauty calling us. God gave us this earth to explore it’s breadth, and to test our depth. In both directions we step into something more, into the ‘next’.

We’re made for ‘nextness!’ All of our journeys are but a foreshadowing; yet another step toward Him...

And live! Oh, let him live!
Deck him out in Sheba gold.
Offer prayers unceasing to him,
bless him from morning to night.
Fields of golden grain in the land,
cresting the mountains in wild exuberance,
Cornucopias of praise, praises
springing from the city like grass from the earth.

May he never be forgotten,
his fame shine on like sunshine.
May all godless people enter his circle of blessing
and bless the One who blessed them.

Blessed God, Israel's God,
the one and only wonder-working God!
Blessed always his blazing glory!
All earth brims with his glory.
Yes and Yes and Yes.
Psalm 72:15-20


I can hardly wait to walk round that little tree laden Islet...

It’s cold out now... but what a day; 2k of boulder hopping, 2k of sandy beach and 4k of rain forest. Ted (the other dad we’re hiking with) keeps mentioning that he’d like to shave a day of the schedule for the week. I continue to resist. And now the problem is solved. We were just misunderhearing each other in terms of our understanding of the trip itinerary. 7 days, 6 nights, 6 dinners required... done!

Best part of the day; not dying at the end of the hike, laying on the beach for 30 minutes half way through the day, enjoying a great rehydrated dehydrated dinner (really... it’s amazing how good food can taste!), and taking photos.

Man is it cold out now... need to find socks!



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