Category Archives: Philosophy

Ice forms on a backyard bench, a symbol of depression.

Ice Storms (A.K.A Depression)

There is a phenomenon that occurs at least once a year in Portland, Oregon: Freezing Rain. Basically: it snows, then warms up just enough to turn into slush and rain, then freezes overnight and sometimes for days at a time and everything gets layered with a thick coating of heavy ice.

Frozen hanging lights.

Ice Storms

Somewhere between the joy of light fluffy snow and the depression of endless rainy days, there are these strange ice storms which literally shut down the city. Schools close. Public Transit stops. Businesses shut down.  People stay inside. Because, in snow you can put on chains and drive, or walk to the park with your kids and your sleds and enjoy a snow day.

But Ice Storms.

Even with chains it is hard to get around. The streets are covered in ice, and it becomes very risky to try and go anywhere.  Tree branches get entombed in ice, like giant icicles creaking under the weight of frozen water and just waiting to come crashing down to the world below. The sidewalks glisten, like a freshly cleaned ice skating rink after the Zamboni has done it’s duty, awaiting the prideful who think they have what it takes to run on ice.

It is a strange phenomenon. It is cold, isolating and lonely.

Frozen Japanese Maple Tree

Frozen Movement

It is a little like getting sick. Your world shuts down and you are forced to stop normal routines and sit with yourself. Whatever fluid “self” you had been ignoring or disregarding or unaware of because of your busy life, now coagulates and rises to the surface and you are forced to acknowledge its existence. Like the ice outside, your life becomes frozen, like a photograph, and there is nothing to do but sit and stare at it.

This stillness is a good thing, for the most part, if only for a while. These ice storms are not that bad, unless they last for weeks, at which point one might go mad from the lack of movement and activity.  But in small doses they are essential for being able to slow down, stop, and focus on the person who dwells in your body. The voice which is used to congratulate, console, condemn, and conjure.  The facial expressions we have mastered but are completely unaware of (which our children read on a daily basis).  The body language as well; the sighing, the slouching, the sagging, the defeat.

Frozen plants.

The “D” Word

It has a name, you know? This invisible poison that only becomes visible when we stop and look for it. It’s name is: Depression.

I know, what a dirty word. What a downer!

“I am not depressed!”, I know YOU aren’t. But I think I am, and you know what? It’s okay. It happens.

It happens when, for 9 years you have been in constant movement; literally and figuratively. Having kids, moving states, changing careers, having more kids, moving states again, having another kid, moving states again, working alone, volunteering, working, working, working.

Movement. Constant, movement.

Have you ever lost yourself in activity? Music. Shows and Movies. Facebook. Roller coasters. Long drives. Painting. Puzzles. Video games. MOVEMENT.

Because, god only knows what will settle and appear when we stop and the dust clears.

Self portrait: documenting the wrinkles.

The Great Melt

Nobody does it on purpose.

Well, I didn’t. I just kept swimming. Which is good, for a while. Until the ice storms of our lives occur, these strange phenomenons, which unveil the soft underbelly of our constant moving selves, and we are pierced by the realization that we are sad, we are lonely, we are getting older and the reality of our irrelevance becomes paramount, and we weep or just stare into the void searching for meaning and significance. 

But eventually, as I have learned countless times in my life, the ice melts. Warmer weather (health) returns and we start moving again. And it is then that we have choices: Ignore the revelations and let the constant movement of day-to-day life cover any track of that dirty little “D”-word, or take a snapshot and carry it with us, in remembrance of what was revealed in the ice, who we really are under all the layers and the reality we carry with us beyond the facade of normalcy.

With this entry, I choose the latter.

The ice is almost melted… the movement is returning. Here’s to a new beginning.

The truth of why I left, and where I’ve been

It’s midnight, and I know I will regret this in the morning, but when you have three kids, personal reflection does not happen very often and when it does you must seize the moment… and so I am writing.

I was inspired tonight; by a movie. The Way Way Back. It was a coming of age film that told the story of an awkward teenage boy who lacks confidence and the summer he finds it by working at a water park. The boy meets the manager of the park, an early thirties “camp counselor” sort of guy who brings the boy to life, gives him confidence, and mentors him through the summer. It was about the boy finding his voice, but more importantly, finding his worth. The film begins with his mom’s boyfriend telling him that he thinks he is a 3 out of 10. The boy himself only gives himself a 6. The first half of the movie the boy is seen mostly with his head down, surrounded by his mom and her boyfriend and their friends, with no friends of his own. Until he finds the water park. Owen, the manager of the park, is a sarcastic, carefree, comedian who sees a boy who just needs someone to give him meaning and significance. And so he does. He provides Duncan (the boy) with a job, but more importantly, experiences that allow him to feel worthy. Significant.

It was a wonderful film.

And it left me in tears. Sure, it was emotional – but I wouldn’t say it was a tear jerker or anything like that. But for me it was very very personal. It struck a nerve in me – so much so that here I am at midnight writing about it. Because my life has taken me down a path – a path that at times I wonder why I am following. And although the answer to why I am here, on this path, has been simmering for quite some time – I have never been able to put it into words. And so, I will try.

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Exodus Part 3: Hope

Hope

“I’ll be done with this post since I’m getting tired and my thoughts are not as clear and crisp as they could be.  But in my next post, in the future sometime, I want to touch on how my beliefs have changed in the last 5 years, who has changed my mind on certain things, and where I find hope now.  That last part, the hope part, is so important.  Because I get that there are a lot of disenchanted Christian church people out there who might relate with some of this stuff – but still love Jesus and want to find something to believe in.  I know. Me too.  And I think I’m coming out of the dark cloud pillar… but only to realize I’m wondering in a wilderness for the rest of my life. (I love the Exodus story for Moses and all that if you haven’t picked up on that yet… brilliant writing. Seriously. Brilliant.)”

Me – Exodus Part 2


A little something for you to listen to while you read the rest of this post. ^_^

Leaving “The Ministry”

Sometimes I stare off and wonder where the hell I’ve been the last 4 years. I mean after leaving my job in the church as a Youth Pastor in Thousand Oaks.  I wonder if it’s been worth it, or if I made some grand mistake.  It’s not that I am not happy with where I am today, but it is easy to look back and wonder “what if”.  For those who know anything about chaos theory, there are an infinite number of results to every decision made every single day. What if I went left instead of right?  What if I went 65mph instead of 45mph that one day?  A good example: just today there was a shooting at the Clackamas Mall (less than 10 miles from our house in Portland) and I can’t help but wonder… what if we were still there? What if we never left?  Only God knows if we would have been there today…  Ok, I encourage you to stop thinking about chaos theory if I got you started – it never leads to anything productive.  But it is definitely interesting to wonder…

And for this particular post, I am interested in where I have come spiritually over the last 4 years as a result of leaving the church (and friends) behind and moving on to other things.

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Exodus part 2: Movement of the People.

[edit: the original video I posted got removed, so I updated it with this version]

I decided to write this post while jamming to Marley’s 1979 live version of Exodus, which he performed in Santa Barbara.  I suggest you hit play on the video above while you read.  If for no other reason except that it’s amazing and probably way better than what you’re going to read here on this page.
(-:

On with it!

“Ja come to break down oppression.  Rule equality. Wipe away transgression.
Set the captives free! Set the captives free! Set the captives free! Set the captives free!”

– Bob Marley

It has been four years since I left the pearly gates of the church behind me.  Well, four years since I stopped working in the church and moved from my home town to Portland, Oregon – which could have been described as an exodus.

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Exodus: part 1

I have not written publicly about these things as of yet. I have hardly talked about them publicly. It has been hard to find the right words, or if not the “right” words, the words that I feel do justice to what I have been through and what I feel about these things. But the time has come to at least begin to publicly explain my personal exodus from the church and organized religion in general. This, I am sure, comes as a shock to some people – and to others they have but assumed it was true. I feel that for even myself, it is hard to summarize what has happened as an “exodus from the church and organized religion” – but in fact, that is what it is. So I will try to use words to explain what has transpired, why, and how I feel now. Please have grace as you read (if you read) these words. I am not claiming absolute truth (although that may be some people’s main problem with my words… not enough claims of absolute truth), but what I am trying to do is make sense of my experiences – mainly to see if where I am at is a legitimate place, or if I am just scared and running away. Because running away is not the same as an exodus. One is caused by external forces, the other is a personal choice. We will see which it has been: an exodus or an escape; or maybe both.