Monday, February 14, 2011

final thoughts?

I guess  I have been avoiding writing this post, since I am not really sure what my final thought are. If you talk to me face to face, I could tell you a lot about what I saw and experienced, but I doubt I have any real formulated thoughts. I guess I will just type up something I wrote on the 21 of January. This sums up my general mind set.

What I have learned in 3 months! (seek and ye shall find! Always look for enlightenment)
Slow down: Everything takes time. Human relationships take time, everything important usually takes time. Going slow allows you to truly appreciate the "now". nobody can be saved in a day, people take investment. Time loses its importance when you are appreciating every moment. We control time, time does not control us. If we cease to give time power, by seeing value in every moment; time will not control life. We are so tiny in the grand cosmic scale, what mark do we really leave on it? what trouble is it if I take 3 months on this journey? 3 months is barely a mark on the 24 years I have lived already! If someone wants to take years to go an focus and one thing or another, what harm can come from it? A month here or a year there, nothing is lost while searching for higher learning. Appreciate going slow and seeing beauty in every moment, connect your spirit with life at every chance.When at peace, time ceases to matter. A river is constantly changing from instant to instant, yet the river is always the same; as is time.
"But out of all secrets of the river, he today only saw one, this one touched his soul. He saw: this water ran and ran, incessantly it ran, and was nevertheless always there, was always an at all times the same and yet new in every moment! Great be he who would grasp this, understand this! He understood and grasped it not, only felt some idea of it stirring, a distant memory, divine voices."
"Did you," so he asked him at one time, "did you too learn that secret from the river: that there is no time?"
Vasudeva's face was filled with a bright smile.
"Yes, Siddhartha," he spoke. "It is this what you mean, isn't it: that the river is everywhere at once, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains, everywhere at once, and that there is only the present time for it, not the shadow of the past, not the shadow of the future?" -Herman Hess "Siddhartha"

Life is too short to run through focused on future goals. Appreciate the moment and praise! For you have the breath to celebrate life!

See the pure spirit in all creation: Everyone has a pure spirit in them. Look into their eyes and see THEM. Not just the outside, what they are saying or doing, but see them for the pureness they have inside. See all men as brothers and all women as sisters. Would I curse my brother or objectify my sister? See God in everyone! In every rock, flower, and stream; God made it all and is in it all.

Spend your moments building true personal relationships with man and God: There is nothing more important then the relationships you build. To spend your time building buildings that will eventually fall down and aiming for glory that will eventually fade; What is the use? We are told by society that life is suffering and we assume it must happen. Everyone hates their job, right? Pain happens, but why play into the constant suffering the world projects on us? Why do we suffer for temporary earthly glory? We should strives for our own inner peace, realizing that it does not come from fame or fortune, but from those around us, the people we love and invest in, the creation we live in and the spirit that lives with in us. Every experience has the potential to enlighten us if we are completely in the moment and open to the joy or pain that may arise from the interaction.

I have a couple big projects in mind, now that I am back, and I might keep using this blog to get the message out, but overall I think this is it. I am still broke and still for God, but under diffrent circumstances now.

Onwards and upwards,

Friday, February 4, 2011

90 days down, a lifetime to go.

Back in Edmonton! It took quite a while on the highway to get home, but by 2:30 am Tuesday morning I was back on the university campus, walking to a friends house.

People have asked me from they day I started  about the financial aspects of this trip, so here are the numbers. The prices I have for meals I got from the salvation army. Every place is different, but I thought this would be a good place to work from. These are only the meals I ate for free from the services. I have not included all the free food I got on Vancouver island over Christmas from my family(I will get you back for it, I swear).

Breakfasts:30x3$= 90$
Lunches: 5x4$= 20$
dinners: 19x5$= 95$
Soups: 16x3$= 48$
Nights in the shelters: 32x10$= 320$

Total resources used= 573$

over the trip I volunteered  a total of 199 hours, through 4 organizations.
If I had taken those hours and worked them at my Job(university of Alberta) I would 
of made about 2,580$.

Out of the 100$ I spent it all plus 30$ donated to me along the way and a 20$. The hundred was mostly ended up being spent travelling costs, like the ferry to the island and back, and the greyhound to Chilliwack. I have recorded where nearly every penny went if any one wants a really breakdown on it!

I covered about 4250 km this trip.
The coldest it got was -39 with wind chill, in Saskatoon. The warmest was +15 in Vancouver.

Soon I am going to put up some final thoughts on what I saw and learned over the last 3 months, and where I am going from here.

In Peace,

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things always get busy when it is time to go...

Sail on home to Jesus won't you good girls and boys
I'm all in pieces, you can have your own choice
''cause I can see a heavenly band full of angels
Coming to set me free
Said I don't know nothing 'bout the why or when
But I can tell that it's bound to be
Because I could feel it, now
On a country road- James Taylor
Yes, it is nearly that time again. Time for me to take to the highway.
What an enjoyable last couple weeks I have had! Everyday I have been either at "the Gathering Place" or "First United" keeping busy. In In the evenings I have been going to "Servants" for dinner, or I have been at the library studying.  What more can a man ask for? I am busy, I am healthy, I am free and I am happy. For me "wealth" has very little to do with possessions or money anymore.
Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to The fist united for a bit of breakfast and the morning spiritual awaken with Rabbi David. It has really been fun getting to know the people who come and sing with us and become a part on the time we share. The time is for sharing and we are getting pretty good at that. The Rabbi introduced us to a new song last Thursday, and I really like it. I try and meditate on the words whenever I have some down time. It goes like this:
All of this world is a very narrow bridge,a very narrow bridge.
All of this world is a very narrow bridge,a very narrow bridge.
And the main thing to recall, is not to fear, not to fear at all.
And the main thing to recall, is not to fear,not to fear at all.
 Often the songs we have are just tunes with no words, so it can be hard since we want to sing one song, but we just cant remember which one it is since they all are wordless, and the melodies are always similar.
Wednesday night at First united, we had a bit of a spiritual night and open mic that was a GREAT time. Rabbi David asked me if I would come and sing a couple songs, So I said sure, i would love too. Now if you know me, you know there is NOTHING I love more then a good old fashion sing along, and that is what the night became. Between me and another guys who had his guitar, we started off with some old folk songs(I found out earlier in the week that David is a Pete Seeger fan too. I am starting to think that everyone, once they have heard Pete Seeger music cannot help but become a fan) "This little light of mine" and "If I had a hammer". At this point we realized that everyone kinda knows the words to songs like this, so we just kept it up. So we kinda lost the spiritual side, but when you have 20 people singing, Shaking shakers, and banging on pots, you just run with it! God loves when people gather in happiness and enjoy life. That is praise in its self!
Servants is a really awesome group. I wish I had found them earlier in my trip. I am really inspired by their action in their community, and their faith. On Tuesday night after dinner, we had a worship time and sang some songs. I have borrowed the chords to the songs they were singing, since I asked and they said I would not be able to find some of them else wheres.  I am so excited to pick up a guitar and learn some new music! I guess I really like servants, since for a long time I have wanted to start a community house and besides my attempts to take over my friend Lisa's house, I have never really known where to start or what to do even if it did get off the ground. I just love the sense of family and community you get as you walk through the door.  
If anyone wants to figure out a way to create a socially, politically, environmentally conscious house in Edmonton with great emphasis on  creating community and being in the community and loving God, give me a shout! 

On Monday I am going to get up at 5:30 am, take a greyhound to Chilliwack, then start hitching home. I have no idea if I will end up in Calgary or Edmonton, but as long as I get to one or the other I will be ok. From Calgary I will raid my parents fridge then head up the QE2 back to Edmonton. In the words of Reverend Gary Davis:
Yeah, glory how happy I am
oh glory how happy I am
My soul is washed in the blood of the lamb
Glory, hallelu!! 

I Love singing this song as I walk down the highway. It always keeps me moving. I learned it from my Friend Dave(one man band) Harris in Victoria. It is a Mississippi Fred Mcdowell song:
You got to move
You got to move
You got to move, child
You got to move
But when the Lord
Gets ready
You got to move

You may be high
You may be low
You may be rich, child
You may be poor'
But when the Lord gets ready
You've got to move

If you have ever hitched anywhere, you know you need a hitchin' song!

I am sure I will be seeing some of you soon,

Friday, January 21, 2011

Big fat snow on Marti Gras...

Marti Gras, for anyone who is wondering; is a near universal( I have heard it in Saskatoon, Vancouver and Edmonton, so almost universal) term for Cheque day. Most people around here got their welfare cheques and some got their disability as well. Everything goes crazy for about 4 or 5 days till the money runs out. During this time the shelters are pretty empty and all the services are not really used since everyone is off spending their cash.

So a guys came in to the drop in last night drunk, and said to me:
Him:The doctor told me I have herpes...
Me: wow... you're going to get those taken care of, right?
Him: Maybe. They call them love bumps... (chuckles)
Me: (awkward pause) ha ha ha!!
What could I do but laugh? I wanted ask him the next morning, but I did not think he would remember the conversation, and to ask some hungover guy, if he has  Herpes or not, might not be the best thing to say at 6am.

So Have you ever tried smiling at people on the street while making direct eye contact? I have found people always seem to look away awkwardly, EXCEPT for in the ghettos. Now you would think it would be other wise.
 Now anyone who has tried drugs before (and be honest) will probably agree that most(not all) drugs make you reclusive and a bit paranoid, if anyone is smiling you  get suspicious(I am mostly talking about hard drugs/hallucinogenics) and wonder if they might be thinking something about you.
One might assume with all these people wandering around on really hard drugs they would not like seeing me walking around smiling at them, but it is the exact opposite. On any given night I can say most people will smile back and ask me how I am doing. Human contact is so important down here, and when "normal" people walk past someone in the alley or huddled in a door way our "normal" instinct is too look away and just not see them.(
Most people regardless of where you come from in society are friendly. Even with the veil of hard drugs, the friendliness shines through! I love walking though the "Dangerous" part of town and having people come up to me and ask whats up and how I am doing since I smile at them and try and give off good energy. Where as If I walk into downtown, it goes back to the awkward "looking away" since people do not like a smiler. Happiness really can be anywhere if you just put out happiness and are open to receiving it. This quote is definitely not from the bible but good all the same!
If you smile at me, I will understand
'Cause that is something everybody everywhere does
in the same language.

I went to a "servants" house for dinner on Tuesday!
What a great group doing really great work in the community! The people there, were really nice and it was a good time to be in a "family" situation again eating around a big table, watching kids play and having fellowship as Christ would of. Praise the Lord for the emerging church and the work they are doing! I will be going back one of these nights since the food is good, the people are good and I owe them a book the lent me.
The book was called "when helping hurts" and it is about how to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor or yourself. I would recommend it to any one who is involved in NGO's or even volunteering in your own community since it goes through all the problems with the systems we have in place, with international aid and even the assistance we give on a community level. It has really made me think about choice I have made with giving out relief when maybe that was not the best answer and actually caused more harm then good.

I am starting to do some volunteering at First United tomorrow, so I am pretty pumped for that! Any chance to serve is a chance to praise God for all he has given to you!

I have finished my analysis of the gospels on what Jesus actually taught, so I might post all that if I get the chance. I broke it into 8 categories that I was looking for his teaching on. They were: Anti-war/violence, Anti-establishment/anti-organized religion, love, Pro poverty, Persecution, freedom, Hypocrisy and service. I have over 140 references that came from Jesus of his teachings on those subjects. So next time some person tells me it is a Christan's duty to go to war...BAM!!! how about a little  Matthew 5: 38-48? HA HA! It is this just in case you are wondering: 
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I guess that is pretty much it for the week. As I am heading home soon I have started to work our the Stats of this trip! I am pretty excited to see how much I have spent,how many KM I have hitched(right now I sit around 3000km) how many hours I have volunteered etc.

Peace be to all of you!! May the spirit bless you in all you journeys!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The post I forgot to name...

 Oh, the days are passing by at an alarming rate! 3 months seemed like such a long time, and now I am down to under 20 days left!
 The days are getting busier! Every morning when I get up at 6am I head over to a mission that gives out muffins and coffee, then they do a great worship service. From there I will usually swing the Carrel st. Church to have a coffee and chat theology with some of the guys. On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday I head from there to "First United"(it was a church and now it is a HUGE drop in center) where I meet up with Rabbi David and some other friends and we do some chanting, singing and discussing! After that I have to run to "the gathering place" and run the showers for the morning. From about 2pm when I finish  at the GP till 9pm (when I have to be back at the UGM or I lose my spot on the floor) I am busy, going to church services, waiting in line for a dinner, chatting with a the "ladies of the night" I have gotten to know, or just studying at the library!
On Monday night I did an orientation at "First United", so I may be volunteering there soon, and I emailed another place today to see if they want an extra set of hands. If I start finding things to do at night I will have to move out of the shelter and back on to the street, since 9pm is pretty early to go to bed if there is work to be done!

So before we go to sleep at the shelter, usually one of the night staff read a bit out of  a reflections book to help us focus on the day and Gods love for us. Last night a guy who stays at the shelter got to read, and he told us it was an honour to be able to stay there, and as he read you could just tell that the whole experience was touching him, and he started crying, It was so moving. at the end, we all clapped and told him he did a good job! it was wonderful!! So many things we would just take for granted, that are so important to others!

Since before I left Edmonton I wanted to make up a "mission statement" for my self to help keep me on track. My problem then was I was not sure who I was or what I stood for. Now that I have a better idea, this is what I have written. Nearly all of it can be Backed up by teachings from Jesus, if certain points became disputed.

To be loyal to God means I need to throw off the values of this society and to be loyal only to him. To serve the people will become my full time work.

If I trust God, I will continue learning by practical experience, and hands on experience. I am not saying I will never go back to university, but I will only go if I know it is right for me to go. I do not need to be bound by the debts, temptations and responsibilities of the university lifestyle.

By truly following Jesus, I want to struggle to not support corporations. Any company that exploits the masses or the environment, is not something I will not to support.

I swear myself to pacifism. Anyone who calls them selves a Christan but supports the wars of this world or would hit someone for hitting them, is not of the spirit. Jesus explicitly says "turn the other cheek" and return  wrong doings with kindness.

I will not support the ideas of nation states. God does not draw lines in the earth to separate people, we are all called to come together. Too many deaths have happened in the name of nations. I will not idolize any ones flag. The cross is my Faith.

I will put money aside, I will serve God and only God. I will not let a piece of paper with a man made value on it control my life.

I will dedicate my life to others. My work will become loving, testifying, and rebelling against the norms. to live for God is my life, my job, my everything.

I will embrace Poverty as it keeps me focused on Jesus. Poverty frees me! I am called to try and free others from the bounds of mammon and possessions. The rich need to free themselves! You can take nothing with you but your soul when you die. I will not speak of poverty as a bad thing since I have been liberated by it. I will only speak of its joys!

I will trust God. This is no 3 month trip. This is my life. I don't know when or where  I will go, but this is it. No more saying "when I am done" or "when I go back to Edmonton, I will go back to normal". THIS IS IT! God has shown me my life and my freedom! I will not disregard what Jesus has shown me!

I renounce organized religion. The practices man has created, the ceremonies, the wealth and the wars of the modern church go completely against the teaching of Christ. I will follow the bible and leave the rest.

I renounce my old life, My ego and my place in society. I am different and I will not be ashamed of my poverty or obedience. I live for Jesus.

I will love! People, plants, animals, mother nature! With out love I would be nothing at all!!!

I am sure this will alienate me from many, but Jesus will lead me, use me and love me. As I grow in the light, bigger challenges come up, and if I want to continue to grow spiritually I need to take these on. I cannot stagnate.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thoughts on Forgiveness...

 I wrote this January 5th. Again my apologies for my bad spelling and grammar.

To be forgiven is to be liberated. Forgiveness is being granted freedom from your guilt. When you talk about guilt, people get defensive. They have an ego that says they don't need to repent, they are fine. Often The sin is viewed more important then the forgiveness. people focus on the action, rather then redemption!
Before I go any further, I should mention that when I use the word "sin" I am not attaching one  religion's moral doctrines to it. My definition of "sin" is: Anything that takes you away from God(universe, creator, Allah, Yahweh etc. what ever title you use) or your purest spirit.
So for different people this means different things. A beer with dinner is not a bad thing, but when you drink a 12 pack a night it becomes trouble. When you work hard, it is good for you, but when you put work before your family and your health, it becomes sinful. This is just my way of wording a complex issue so that it works for me.
I would Argue that repentance is not an attack on you. repenting is admitting we all make mistakes and knowing everyone messes up.  I feel God does not care what sins you have committed, he just wants us all to admit we have messed up. So instead of focusing on the sin, just try and understand we all have hurt other people and ourselves. We can be freed from that guilt by says "yes, I screwed up".
There were times when I was a kid, and I had done something wrong and I knew it. I knew my parents would be mad, but all I wanted to do was admit what I had done and say I am sorry.  I was not as worried about the punishment as I was about the stress and anxiety the guilt was causing me, I really wanted to get the guilt off my back. I believe we have all had times where all we want is forgiveness. It is the times where we know we have done wrong, those are the times we need to repent.
To forgive is to be given freedom. We all know what it is like when we have someone not forgive us. It is painful when we are guilty. When someone will not forgive us and they just hold it over us, it is never fun. Even in our justice system; you can do your time, repent for your actions, change your ways, but your record  will never be clean. Through pure forgiveness there is no record of your wrongs.When you forgive someone or someone forgives you, all is let go of. It is not held back to be used in a fight later, it is let go of forever. What a joy being able to forgive is!
It is such a great feeling to be able to let go of guilt. Repenting is not a chore, but a gift. When you can move on from the thing you know you have done wrong then you can move your life forward! We should acknowledge forgiveness  as a great gift, not a penance, and show people the freedom in it. Don't let guilt rule your life anymore.
It is only the pure true love of Jesus which makes this possible. Only in Jesus is there forgiveness like this! Even us as human are called to forgive this way, but it is a near impossible thing to do. There is no pay back like Karma, or working it off, but just pure forgiveness. Jesus jumps at the chance to forgive us! As we should jump at the chance to forgive those who have hurt us!
So it is a small step, but look at the mistakes of your in life, in your own light. Do they wear at you? Do you wish you could move past them? Do you want freedom? forgiveness is the way. Take the chance to move forward and  let the past stay in the past.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New work, new struggles!

 This is the day that the lord has made! let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Today is a chance to love and to serve!
So I have started Volunteering at a support center called "The Gathering Place"!!! it is good to keep busy! The center offers: showers, laundry, a gym, a library, a cafeteria(for a low price), high school classes to help you get your diploma, art classes, music jams, computer classes and a lot more! What a great place for people trying to get their life back in order or just get a little boost!
Right now I am working in the section that handles the showers, the laundry and donations! I find it rewarding to see someone go into shower, looking ragged and dirty and usually with a frown on their face; then they come out they have a  big smile and they look so refreshed and new!
 Right now I am staying at a drop in center ran by the "United Gospel mission". They do great work offering meals and shelters! We have to be in by 9pm and awake at 6am so I have alot of time to get stuff done in the day! I have been a little worried today since 2 mornings ago before I woke up, Charles who is a schizophrenic crack addict with a heart of gold(and a friend of mine); got into an argument with one of the staff and got thrown out. Since then I have not seen him. The other guys have told me not to worry since this happens to Charles every so often. The staff also told me last night if I see him to tell him all is forgiven and to come back again. So I am going to go out tonight and look for him in the alleys, to tell him I miss him.
When I have had the chance, I have been going to a "spiritual awaken". It has been awesome! it is lead by Rabbi David. We chant, sing, pray and connect with God and our own inner spirit in our own way.

I have found myself being very cynical lately and it is very discomforting. I had stared a blog last night which I deleted today since it was just a big complaint about all the missions down here and what they are trying to do. I often find in my attempt to be a good Christian, I am very critical of any one who is working on the east side with the agenda of Christianity. I would get defensive thinking "they are just trying to scare people into loving God" or "they don't care about the addicts and homeless at all".  part of that might of been true. At the "United Gospel Mission"  before dinner, we have to listen to a different church everyday come and preach to us. It made me cynical since every group came down and were often(not always though)condescending and preached the EXACT same message. I really think going to church should be a choice, and so it bugs me when these most of the guys here really just want a plate of food, but are subjected to a barrage of attacks on their lifestyles.
I had been getting really grumpy about the whole thing, and even during one service a guy said to me, "man this guy is actually making me think" and I came back with a grumpy remark about how the guy the night before gave the exact same message and can't they find anything new? I should of supported the man in his thinking and had a conversation about it, but I just replied with sarcasm.
 This morning I changed my thinking. I went to a 7am coffee and worship time, and I saw a young tough looking kid(in his 20ies) ask on volunteer to pray for him, and as they prayed together, he just started crying, and when they were done he said "thanks man, I really needed that today".  Wow. I have seem this happen often in a lot of places, people just wanting God and love.
Before I had been only noticing all the stuff I didn't like about the street ministries, and ignoring all the good they do. maybe at times they are a bit condescending and most groups who come into "hastings" for one night a month don't really understand the problems, maybe sometimes they are a bit pushy with their message, BUT more times then not, they are there giving out food and love, even when it get thrown right back at them. They are in a hard place, where often for barley a reason people will get mad and attack all their good intentions; they still let them back in the next day, feed them again, and have the same attack happen. That is a pretty big love for these people who really need the help.
To truly love is tough. To really love someone it takes more time and effort then most people are willing to give. All my thinking has led me to decide we should just focusing on the call to LOVE. It is so hard to love someone who wont love themselves but I think it is all we can do for a lot of these people. If God helps them get clean, he will. We need to remember that our main call as Christians is to love. To Love our God with all our heart, and to love others as ourselves. this is a really hard call to follow when you realize that:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 678 Love never fail Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
To really love is HARD!!! To not worry about their choices, to only let them know that THEY ARE LOVED. If Jesus wanted them all to quit their life styles, he could make it .happen. This is not the case though. We all have the freedom to choose, and all we can do is support each other through the good choices and the bad. We need to love as Jesus loved, so when we love them, they will only see the light of Jesus shinning through! Through our actions more then our words!
 To try and blame them for getting addicted or becoming homeless is beside the point right now. Judgment and attacks on their lifestyles will not fix anything. It will just make the issues even deeper. Anything can happen with Love and Jesus, if we focus on that, everything else will just start to take care of its self.

I am going to keep walking, keep smiling and doing my best.
In Jesus Strength and my weakness,