Old Posts, Old Friends, recycled thoughts.

I just read some old posts, and they included comments from people I didn't realize I had known so long, including M and K Francis, Kai, Elizabeth R, RW, Aunty Bic, (Vic), Simeon, and others.

I had no idea it's been so long, I feel old, and blessed to have such friends, even though I don't see them often. I recently told someone I don't like that word, blessed, but in this context it's true. I was reading way back in 2005 when I was coming home from Grad school, and I didn't realize I had become such a part of St. Hermans that I mattered to all these people. I guess we were all blogging a lot back then too, commenting all over the place, but what an archive of interaction. I love it. I am so glad this archive is here, so I will continue, and perhaps publicize it again, and rant a bit so as to garner a reaction, of any sort, so you post a thought and I can look back in 10 more years and remember fondly this interaction. I guess it's like an old letter, but better, because it doesn't take up space. I'm a sucker for history like this.

I miss a lot of people. Fernie is epic. We do everything I have ever wanted to do, but we won't buy a house here, it's like langley/surrey prices and with one income, it's just not happening. I would move to chilliwack if I were in the mainland still, and we could do it there, but our church is growing slowly, we are getting a steady priest who is moving to Cranbrook, and I think it will be good.

I have been biking in the snow, it's not so bad. I don't like being wet, but I don't mind being cold. Vancouver, such a legend, and yet just a place. I turned off the hockey game tonight, it was ok, but just kind of useless. It's just a piece of rubber, and yet we invest so much meaning into it.

I see so much religion in our empty activities, so much passion and belief in things like sport and hobbies. I do it too, I find identity in it, and it's something I have fought or mused on for a long time. I wrote an essay in Grade 11 ( I got such a good mark and high praise for it that I remember it vividly) about putting on and changing our identities. I 'became' orthodox. I am orthodox. I am a Husband and Father. I am a teacher. I am a hunter, fisherman, cycling/running enthusiast (running?) I pine for the fjords, or perhaps just a few acres of land. I identify myself in different ways and I think this is a huge issue for belief, faith, and existence in general. I think when we find something to identify ourselves with, we don't feel the lack of other things, which might be why wealthy moderns like myself (who have more than we need of everything) don't need God. why would we?

Also, I miss silence and meditation, yoga, spiritual discipline and things like that. I feel like I am always in survival mode, like the panic button has been down for 5 years (since we had kids) and I wonder if that feeling goes away, because I wish I could teach my kids about silence, but I am nowhere near practicing it. Except when I hunt or run. but really that's not the same. Though I wonder if there is a connection there.

I love my job, but it's also frustrating. So many kids don't come with an assumption that the teacher knows what they are talking about. It's a little weird, I don't know if I felt that way, but I know I had respect for certain teachers as experts, that's for sure. Where did that come from? the respect or disrespect? Is it the family? or the teacher? or both? It seems to me that our system is not functioning very well, but what is the answer? fix it from within? head for the hills and start a commune?



Pleasure vs. Joy, also ten years of blogging.

I live in a beautiful place that is conducive to living a life of pleasure. Every day, we live for pleasure. I could bike all winter on any number of trails, using a snow bike, or I could snowshoe, XC Ski, Downhill ski, snowboard, fish, hunt, run etc. In the summer I can trade the winter activities for summer things. People refer to Fernie as Never-Never-Land, where we can be kids forever, and it makes me wonder. I love enjoying these activities, and I hope that as I do, I am offering thanks in word and deed for the life I get to live, showing my kids to be grateful and appreciate all they have been giving, but as they grow up I see reflected in their attitudes something that I fear I show often: Entitlement. I hate to say it but I think I feel like I deserve all this fun, like it's my turn to get that foot of powder, catch that trout, etc. I deserve it. I know it's hard to really understand all of our own motives, perhaps impossible unless you live near Gibsons, but I was talking to a friend recently and we sort of realized that one of the values of living in this town is fun. Was it fun? how was your weekend? Oh, you skied, did you have fun? the snow was bad? aw, that's too bad. Too cold? another tragedy. But really, what am I doing here? fully engaged with the fun, and loving it. How can I show/be the Love that I know, the discipline that I crave and get better at what I say matters? I want my kids to grow up a certain way, but I think I am demonstrating something else.
Then, there's the other side, where maybe I have been given a sweet gift, and I can fully enjoy it and bounce through the mountains and call it Joy and be grateful for what God has allowed. But the rub with that is that I don't deserve it, it's not a gift from God and it is all the same time. How can I dare to say that my amazing life is a gift from God? I can't, I can only say that life itself is a gift from God, and how we respond to it might be yet another gift, because I could be a jerk and not see that I have this worm of entitlement inside me, so I am glad I can at least see it, or I could refuse it thinking that I know better than God about what to do in this moment.
The rain falls on the on the sinner and the good, and everything is meaningless, so perhaps even to try and understand it is futile and instead we should just go to church and continue to plow furrows ever so slowly. I imagine I wrote a post like this sometime in the last decade of this blog, which I am now upon, having started in 2005.



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.