So tomorrow I will become a reader. Vladika Irenee will tonsure me. I have been orthodox since 2005, so I suppose it's time. I like reading in the church. And I got a cassock. Long after I thought it would be a 'cool' thing to do, so I guess that's good.
Life in Fernie is interesting. We are waiting to find out if/when the next step happens, which has to do with working in Cranbrook, and perhaps living in Kimberley. We would be closer to our church, so that would be good. I would miss a number of people here who I have become good friends with, but Fernie is not affordable for a teacher, so we go to cranbrook/kimberley area, which is on sale. I miss a lot of people in the lower mainland, I miss the influence of constant church, the monks, etc. I love the kootenays though. I got two deer again this year, which is great. I even put a road killed doe in the freezer, so we have lots of meat. The kids like it here too, it's good. I have been biking to work in the snow, and it's not too bad. The short commute is awesome. 


John Trepp is not here.

I am in banff, at the music festival that impacted my life quite strongly. My choir teacher, John Trepp, co-founded the festival, and it is specifically non-competitive which I find to be really beneficial for students, both myself as a young person, and so far the students are enjoying it and I think will be able to learn without worrying who is better than who. It's not about winning, it's about learning from each other.
The last time I was here, John and I had a great chat until late in the night. Such a good memory.
Tonight I started talking about him to one of the festival staff and it was hard to keep it together. There is a memorial for him here on saturday, and some of his friends are gathering to remember his contributions to this festival and to music education in general.

For those who know me, they know that Fr. Gregory Papazian has had a huge impact on my life through a straight up approach, a desire for truth. I don't know if I would have been as ready to hear truth in that way had I not been through the process of growth in my high school choir. John demanded hard work and always nothing but our best and a commitment to truth, in both expressing music and communicating with each other. The vulnerability we were able to share through trusting each other because of this truth was profound. Something I haven't experienced since, except at the monastery.

It's hard to be here, at his festival, without him.


Hearing God's Voice. (shudder)

I left a church that was obsessed with hearing God speak directly to individuals. I ran from it. trying to puke out the bad theology that I had ingested. The theology must have been bad because the number of people who were charlatans and magicians was staggering. They were fooling themselves, and tried to fool me. They were praying for God's spirit of revival and instead of seeking truth, they wanted hype. But I think they had been led astray...I don't know why they got ahold of a mic in front of a 'church' anyway. But they tried to push us over, literally-physically, so that it would seem that God had done it. So it would seem God had spoken to us, given us a word.
Call me arrogant, but I think I know what God wants and I haven't done a single percent of it correctly. I have read the part in the bible about loving the poor, the widows and the orphans. The needy. The least of these. We don't do it, we are failing miserably. I don't anyway. I am a teacher, and I try to care for my students in an appropriate and holistic way, and I try to do my job well and love my family fully. But when God has given us a) the Bible, b) the saints and church fathers and c) a truckload of wise people who have written books and given sermons and chatted to us personally, why would I dare to ask the creator of the universe to communicate anything directly to me? I would rather hide behind (inside?) the wall of the eucharist, embrace with gratitude the good things God has given me and try to express through a lifetime of slowly turning toward God (cause God knows I am too busy skiing and hunting and biking with the kids to think deeply or meditate on these issues and pray seriously) that I am sorry I haven't lived up to the fullness of human goodness capable with His spirit, and that I really am grateful, and not a spoiled child who can't turn off his phone. Or at least I am trying to go that direction. I hope.
But please, don't speak to me, I don't know that I could handle it, or if I would even be able to believe it. Too many of us have turned that moment into pornography. Something intimate for everyone to see.



I recently attended the BCTF AGM. It was amazing. I learned so much. The politics were kind of enthralling. There is such a divide, people who on the one hand, want to stop increasing fees and cut services, and on the other hand who don't mind fees and don't want to cut services. Now, I am a capitalist, I like free enterprise, and I think if we had smaller government that would not be bad. But, in the context of teaching, I think we need a strong union. The BC government is doing its darndest to destroy public education in favour of private schools. Private education is fine, to an extent, but if we destroy public education, we will be hurting ourselves as a province quite badly. The weakest members of our areas will be the ones to suffer, and when the strongest, loudest ones are the only ones speaking about it and the weakest ones are voiceless, it isn't equitable, it's not democratic. If the government were treating teachers well, we wouldn't need such a strong union, but the government is always trying to save money on the backs of teachers and students. (Aside, there is no possible way to separate the experience of teachers and students in the school system)


In other news, John Trepp's memorial is may 3rd. Our community choir is going well. We are visiting old friends tomorrow. Life is better than I deserve. I took Z skiing today, only on the small hill, but it was still pretty cool. Then we went swimming. busy day. good times. I am enjoying my small part in the union. It's a good learning experience.


John Trepp, Memory Eternal.

My high school choir teacher died two nights ago. I am a music teacher because of him. Don't get me wrong, my parents are my biggest and best influences, but aside from them, John Trepp made me who I am today. He was the first person outside my family to give me serious discipline, expect serious commitment and kick my ass when I needed it. It was because of him that I immediately loved orthodoxy. I loved the monks at Gibsons because I had tasted the discipline that they lived when I was in choir. I loved the no BS attitude of Fr. Lawrence because I first had it in my high school choir. This man was an agent of God, and had a faith and an ability to draw us in to his desire for excellence that I have encountered rarely. He wasn't the best technically that I have worked with, but his emotional engagement was so high that we wanted nothing more than to be excellent, to serve the music. Tomas Luis De Victoria and Palestrina are alive inside me because of him. Bach's little Organ Fugue BWV 578 is constantly with me, not only because of him, but partly. That's actually a good story.

As a young boy, my dad would play Jacques Loussier's Jazzy recording of BWV 578 often. I loved it. It is still arguably my favourite piece ever. ever. well, that and TL de Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium. Both will accompany this post. But I learned of BWV 578 from my dad, but then in grade 12 we sang the 8 part vocal version that I will post here. And to sing it is to know it. It is my goal to get my choir to sing it one day. It is so simple and complex, so beautiful and mathematical. So contradictory. We did it, in high school. What an experience. We sang Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium. O great mystery that the saviour of the world was born among animals. Words can't express the beauty of these experiences. like orthodoxy, you had to be there, or you have to taste and see. Which is why I am a choir/band/music teacher, because you have to be in the middle of it to get it. Because of this man, John Trepp, I got it, and I get it. I hope I can give my students even half of that experience.

Memory Eternal John, may flights of angels sing you to your rest. Your memory will be eternal through me and my students.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L87ixPXviFg this is the Victoria O Magnum

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L87ixPXviFg This is the Bach BWV 578.


Fernie, a year and a bit later... we live in community

Apparently this is post number 600. It's been going a while. I think since 2005, when I started exploring Orthodoxy at St. Hermans, just after I finished undergrad at TWU.

Life really is beautiful and hard. I love that I have found a church that is honest, that is full of honest people. I think that must be the thing that I saw/see in orthodoxy, is that even though there are people of all political, philosophical, intellectual, and physical stripes, most people who convert to Orthodoxy do so because they have found something that either will or ought to demand as much honesty as one can muster. About one's self, that is. At least that seems to me to be the case. I don't agree with a lot of my fellow orthodox about things, but I think we are all striving for honesty of life, and an honest interpretation of what it means to be a Christian.

I feel a lot less of anything about God now than I did when I was 17, or even 27. I hope that feelings are as poor as assessment as I think they are. I avoid people who feel to much about God. I was one of those who took everything that was meant as internal and pushed it onto the world. This is probably why I blog at all. I keep more to myself these days, which is ok. But I like the idea of creating a version of history for my kids to read. I would love to have read the thoughts of my parents that happened before I was aware that they were human.

Tonight Z had a huge meltdown over a toy, it was unpleasant. As soon as he ate, he was fine. He's a good kid unless he's hangry, then he becomes intolerable.

The fast is different this year, so far. I have a different perspective on it. I miss orthodox people being in my life daily. We have good people here, to be sure.

I wrote the first bit the other day

Today we went to Crowsnest pass, where there is a really cool thrift shop. It's called bagatelle, and there is such a feeling of welcome, I love driving out there just for that. The roads were a bit sketchy at times, but not too bad. We saw a herd of Mountain Sheep in the middle of highway 3. licking the salt from the road. We didn't get a picture. But they are often there. I still love seeing animals. They are majestic beings.

The matriarch of St. Herman's has passed away, May her memory be eternal! She and her husband started english speaking orthodoxy in BC. I began to think about how important this is to so many people. It has affected the lives of literally hundreds of Christians, many of whom might no longer be Christians is it were not for their hard work. I wonder where I would be if it weren't for St. Hermans. Surely not here in this moment. It's strange to think of life that way.

It's really cold, and there's no snow. Kind of a bummer. It rained really hard right before it dropped down to -14 at night. Weird.

Also, check out Dave Ramsey if you haven't already. Great stuff regarding debt and money. Opinionated like an american, but I think that's why people like him. He's not always soft and polite. He rants. but he's deadly consistent. I like it.


Some Fernie things that we love

Zeke went skiing for the first time ever today
I can flyfish for cutthroat trout (and catch them) behind my house by about 400 metres
my commute is 7 minutes
I shot two deer this year. two.
We live in a community. This part is still finalizing itself. It's something we have always talked about, wondered about. We can't escape it here, geography compels it.


A first draft of my race report from the half marathon I ran

The Rookie Report

Heiko’s Hellish Half, Fernie BC For pictures (123 of them, a few doubles) click the link http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasivirta/sets/72157635223861469/

This is first race I have ever done by myself, and the second trail run I have ever participated in. My cousin has cajoled me into this sport, and I am glad. The truth is that we invented it when we were 15, but so did many others. We ran down mountains with huge packs, falling and rebounding like teenagers can, and this race reminded me of those days, specifically because of the final descent, which folks had dutifully reminded me to save some energy for, thankfully.

The race day was gorgeous, just enough cloud cover to keep us cool, and the people at the checkpoints on the ridge tops were quite cold it seemed, there was gusting wind off and on, and I think the runners appreciated it. I sure did.  The scenery was unbelievable, mountain spires towering overhead, beautiful waterfalls, and a huge variety of terrain.

The race began after a 45 minute drive up a treacherous mountain road. The group of us racers were chatting excitedly while listening to music on the bus. When we got there, a number of racers visited the bushes in final preparation (feel free to edit that out:) while the rest waited in the chilly morning air. There were 46 racers who finished, in times ranging from 2.5 hours to 6 hours plus.

We got started right at 8, I ran with the lead pack of runners, quickly realizing I wouldn’t keep up, I backed off and settled into a pace that seemed my own, and started to get into the zone. This being my first long distance run, I wasn’t sure what to expect. first ascent was quite steep, so I went quite slowly up it. There were beautiful waterfalls, ladders and lush rainforest sections. It was a great and intense introduction. Once we were over the first ascent, we were into a gorgeous meadow that was relatively flat, but still the uphill battle continued. It was less steep but there was no rest for the weary. The scenery continued to be amazing through Bisaro Canyon, where there was a cave that had been visited so often, the trail seemed to beckon us in, the runners who were nearby also thought the trail went inside or through, but we saw the pink flags taking us the other way. The flagging, it should be noted, was great, and having never been on the trail, I only wandered one time, and it was only a few feet past where I should have gone. The organizers should be commended for this. The flags were small, and simple, but clearly laid out and very helpful. After Bisaro Canyon, we hiked to Three Sisters Pass, which was the first of three passes, and came with an epic shale trail. I was gratified to get there and take a little break in preparation for some decent descent. After this little rest and a gel, I ran down towards fairy meadows which is appropriately named. It would be easy to see any of the Lord Of The Rings have scenes filmed here, or Narnia, or any beautiful fantasy film. It is easily one of the most beautiful places I have been to, and I am a native of BC who has spent my life doing various mountain related activities, despite this being my first foray into the trial running scene. The second pass we came to was also quite exciting, I think because it seemed like such a milestone, I felt like I could do it, now that I had come this far. And again the downhill section that followed was such a nice break from the constant uphill climbing, my legs were beginning to notice. The checkpoints were also better stocked than advertised, which was encouraging. I had enough with me for the whole race, but I was glad there was a bit of water in case we needed it. During the middle section, I kept on coming around different corners and looking up at steep rocky pitches thinking ‘where on earth do we go from here?’ which was kind of fun, and then the path would go on these really unexpected routes, through the trees, on the edge of the cliff, it was great. When I finally got to the top of Mt Fernie, it almost surprised me, but there he was, the last checkpoint guy, eating a can of beans and calling me in the radio, perched atop the 3 foot wide ridge overlooking the Elk Valley. I took a short break, asked how long it should take me to get down, he said 40-60 minutes is average,  and then texted my wife and told her I would be more than an hour :)

But this, this is the fun part. If I like trail running, it’s for the downhill part. I already could feel slight blisters forming on my heels, but I also knew if I was going to pass anyone, this was the time and place, so I went. I went hard. In the last descent, we drop a full 1000 metres of elevation over a mere 3KM. That seems like a 33% grade to me, which is pretty steep. I loved it. My knees didn’t, but as long as I kept bouncing down the mountain it was ok. When I tried to stop, that was the hard part. The second hard part was that after spending all of my energy on this downhill grind which really was excellent and fun, I still had about 1.5 km of nearly flat ground to run on, and my gas tank was pretty empty. But I finished, and I loved it. I finished with a guy I had passed, who caught up to me on this flat ending, and we chatted a bit about how beaten we were, and it was great. My cousin always tells me that one of the great things about it is the cameraderie, and it’s true. Now I feel a bond with anyone who has done anything like this, because you can’t understand by reading an article or looking at pictures, you have to taste and see what it’s like. Eat the dirt, breathe the dust, smell the waterfall and feel the crushing descent in your legs and then when it’s all over, know that you will have to do it again.


Summers Off? On discipline and hard work.

I can't really imagine taking the entire two months off, so I will be working a few days a week, at an old favourite, shoveling concrete.
I miss hard physical work, and working outside, and because the time frame is limited, if I don't like it, I can suck it up for a little while and just get it done.

I have learned a lot about myself lately. Not the least of this being that I love my job, which helps the students enjoy being there too. Sometimes it's stressful, and that's usually when I haven't planned enough. But it's good.

And Fernie is good too. It's incredible. I recently ran as a team of 4 competing in an ultra marathon, I only ran 10KM, but the vertical was pretty good. almost 700M of ascent and descent. Now, I didn't run up, I walked up, but I ran down. The craziest part is that we came 2nd place. 2nd! Somehow I got onto a team with elite runners. Check out www.trailrunner.ca for a look at the trail running scene. It's my cousin's digital magazine, and we were team Trail Running Canada. Anyways, that was crazy.

And the other day I got up early and went for a 9KM hike, hoping to be back before breakfast, but I got  a flat at Island Lake Lodge. That's another weird thing, I live 10KM from a legendary catskiing operation. We are still working the debt snowball (cf: Dave Ramsey for more info) so it will be a while, but they have a standby list, so I know I'll get to go skiing there one day.

The recreation opportunities here are endless, to the point that I still scarcely believe that I live here, and could stay forever. I took Zeke fishing today, no fish but lots of fun, and soon when the river clears up, we can fish in a world class, 'classified waters' trout river, that is a 5 minute walk from our house. Did I mention the hunting? I get to drive 15 minutes and be in a legitimate hunting spot. or closer if I want, really. It's just so weird.

It's been a year and I really can't believe that we get to live here and be here. It's basically what I have wanted my whole life, to live in a small town, where I can fish and hunt, be a music teacher, and have a family. Actually, Literally, living the dream.

And I still am ungrateful sometimes, wondering if there isn't some reason to apply to sub lists in the lower mainland where I could drive farther, pay more for housing, earn less, and have my recreation opportunities basically decimated, so that the little time I have with my family I would spend driving to and from shorter sessions of the same activities.
Did I mention zeke skis for free next year? at the ski hill, which is 5 minutes away? I guess getting to the lift is more like 15 minutes. After getting dressed and ready at the car. I know, totally not worth the inconvenience. (sarcasm-do we have a sarcasm font yet)

I think the essence of Christianity is gratitude, thanksgiving, and somedays even though I can recount the things that I am grateful for, I don't feel grateful, and usually that translates to not acting grateful, but acting entitled. I don't know why or how I have this attitude of entitlement, and it isn't pervasive or continuous, but when I feel it, I wonder why I am not repulsed by it. or if I am, how to change the way I feel. but then why is it all about how I feel?

I guess that's it, why do feelings dictate our actions? or my actions. I guess that's the thing with discipline. and Holiness. It's just lots of hand to plow, nose to stone.