Monthly Archives: November 2010

bullets and snowflakes

right now halifax is covered in a white blanket of snow. the snow stopped falling at a little past 1am. probably 1:07am (time i was born at). my window on the top floor (third story) sees a lot of the city. i can look out and see the bridge leading over the water to dartmouth, the city on the other side, and a lot of houses and large apartment buildings in my neighborhood. everything i see is white. this dark place could use some brightening up.

the neighborhood i live in is rough. its been cleaned up a bit recently with real estate developers doing their part to reallocate certain people groups. still, this neighborhood needs some major help. racial tension and socio-economic prejudices permeates much of the area, stemming from prior injustices done to the black communities and failures to repair relations. gang life is a common reality, as kids give up their childhoods to play gangsters on the streets. swarmings (random mob violence) and shootings are an unfortunate reality that some families must deal with. throw a giant drug problem on to the fire and you have a recipe for a community’s destruction.

with so many obstacles in the way of reconciliation, its no wonder most people here looked so defeated. but as many obstacles as there may be, theres still plenty enough people working hard to reverse course and recreate a strong and healthy community. the churches in the neighborhood are quite active, opening their doors to the community to use their facilities, kitchens and beds. other churches are stepping up and filling the other needs of the neighborhood (eg. esl for immigrants, youth centers, after school programs for kids, etc). im happy to say im part of one. signed my contract just the other day! the name of the church is pax north. on our website it says this:

Pax North is a community of people in Halifax who desire to learn about, live out and share with others a life of FAITH in Jesus Christ. To do so we are seeking to engage the CULTURE that surrounds us in authentic and relevant ways. It is our hope that we will live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ in such a way as to continually bring VALUE to the city in which we live. Pax North

out of the 30-something or so churches ive visited and/or frequented in the past, only one other church besides pax seemed to get the whole ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ thing. its pretty refreshing.

as i sat here at my desk overlooking my new neighborhood i heard a gunshot ring out down closer to the water. hope it missed..

 

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leonard’s philosophy

ron even laughed like a true newfoundlander. well, at least my stereo-typical perception of a true one. sporting a big red beard with spots of grey and wearing a very well-knit reindeer christmas sweater, ron leans over the table and whispers, “help me get the cute girls over to our table”. he billows a hearty laugh that shakes our small table. to my left sits leonard and david to his immediate left. im fairly certain i over-hear david telling someone about the looming judgment day (guess i wasnt that special after all) and leonard is trying valiantly to roll a smoke with his one good hand. i grab it out of his hand and roll it up. he smiles big and takes off for outside. for the last half hour ron has been telling to me about his future trip to africa. i tell him that it might to be hot for a beard in africa and that he would most likely have to shave it off. its like a killed his puppy. africa gets scratched off the list and hawaii replaces it as the new destination. this suits him much better since he hates vaccine needles as much as i do. thats quite a bit.

dinner is served and the guys get pretty silent as they chow down. not leonard though. hes more interested in continuing our philosophical conversation from yesterday. “theres too many things in this world. things, things and more things. we are so wrapped up in things and it doesnt seem to make people happy”.

hes right. absolutely, positively right. there ARE far too many things. we are so consumed with our things that we dont see the important stuff in life.  ill save this rant for another time..

after dinner i came home and found the following excerpt from ‘paradox of our age ‘ by dr. bob moorehead. think leonard is going to like this..

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems; more medicine but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend to recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up late, get up tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We have learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve add years to life not life to years. We have been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We have done larger things, but not better things. We have polluted our souls. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more but learn less. We plan more but accomplish less. We have learned how to rush, but not to wait.

These are times of fast foods and slow digestion; big man and small character; steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce; fancier houses but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, throw away morality, one night stands, overweight bodies and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom but nothing cooked in the fridge.”

how much longer must we collectively wait before its admitted that materialism has failed us miserably? how much longer before its cast on to the fire with all the other empty, junk philosophies?

im, for one, tired of waiting.

“frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the english language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. the consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things”- elise boulding

 

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breakfast at brunswick

coffee has become a constant in my life these days. if the old lucas could only see the new one, he would have it out with him. coffee everyday!? homeless guys and street addicts drink lots of the stuff, thus why i do as well. it wouldnt have anything to do with the weird hours, frustration and lack of sleep. nah..

so, this morning i plugged into my caffeine fix around 655am, giver or take. seeing as my sleep apnea wouldnt allow me to snooze well the night before, caffeine was first on the to-do-list. fortunately for me paul had a large one waiting for me as i stepped foot into his jeep. sweet! ignoring the fact that pauls old enough to be my father, he feels like the big brother i never had. we talk a lot and hang out about the same. and he buys me coffee a lot. great guy (if youre reading this paul, dont let it go to your head).

brunswick mission is packed by the time we walk through the doors. eggs over medium, salty hash browns and fried ham with toast fill up the small square tables inside. i find a seat beside david and a fresh plate is slipped in front of me before i can say hi. who am i to argue? i dig in and enjoy.

david doesnt remember me. this is not uncommon. i forgive him because i forget his name. we both have memory issues, though the roots of mine arent traced to a drug addiction. no, coffee doesnt count! yet..

after some small talk david informs me judgment day is near. im half-obliged to agree with him considering the current state of the world economy but i press him further for details. hes more than happy to fill me in. after about an hour david has successfully told me the details of judgment day. and in 30 days no less. i told him i didnt want to miss christmas and he scolded me. we shook hands firmly and he left. we’ll talk judgment day more next saturday.

lenoard shows up and we continue on with our talk from last saturday. lenoard is a fifty year old native dude with a bad arm and bummed leg who (according to him) flies like the wind on his new mountain bike. leonard is well liked by the community, both the volunteer staff and fellow street brothers. it doesnt take a long time talking to him to find out why. hes pretty rad. he comes up to the hostel coffee shop after breakfast for a coffee on me and we talk more life. its hard listening to his story and not feeling bad for him. life hasnt quite given him a fair deal. leonards not interested in my sympathy though. hes much more interested in telling me thats hes still going to be around in 200 years. said with a giant toothless grin, how can i argue with that type of optimism?

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a time to break silience

continuing in the spirit of remembrance day, i thought id share something that rang a certain chord of truth within me. the following words were uttered by the late great dr. martin luther king jr. at the peak of the vietnam war, as american televisions projected scenes of their young men and women dying and killing on foreign soil. his words, i believe, still hold incredible weight today and we could spend considerable time reflecting on their truth.

 

“I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight,
Because my conscience leaves me no other choice.
A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war:
This way of settling difference is not just.
This business of burning human beings with napalm,
Filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows,
Of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane.
Of sending men home from the dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged,
Cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.”

-mlk

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how will you remember?

so im driving home from new brunswick the other day, after a great weekend spent up at my grandparents place. when the skies open up and absolutely lay siege to the highway and the rental car im automobiling. cars are slowing down and pulling off to the side to wait out the flood. not me. my rental car is parting the waters like moses with his ragtag crew of hebrews. smooth sailing. talk radio is cranked and im arguing to no avail with lousy hosts and loud mouthed know-it-alls. had it not been for the ‘no cell phone while driving ‘ law i might have convinced some poor radio call-dispatcher to let me ramble and rant on the radio waves. foiled again by the law.

finally i find something worth listening to – a conversation on remembrance day. a panel of seemingly intelligent men are arguing over the likes of patriotism, war, military service and the state of our country. a few of the men on the panel have an obvious and clear agenda: let those who are listening know that canada is NOT treating their veterans with the respect that they deserve. different cases were highlighted as examples and discouraging statistics were shared.  a very sobering picture is painted.  i knew personally from talking to a few homeless veterans in the past that our present government was not doing what it should to support them but i didnt realize how bad it actually was.

we turn on our televisions and see our leaders and politicians waving the flag and repeating the mantra ‘support our troops’. so often we figure that they must actually be doing something to support them, when in fact the opposite is true. the men and women who have fought for our freedoms are being hung out to dry. wounded soldiers returning from duty overseas (more often than not extended tours…away from their families) are being bottom-lined and basically forgotten and ignored. these soldiers returning home with debilitating physical injuries (not to mention psychological ones such as post-traumatic stress disorder) are having to fight to get help from their government. the very same government that tells us to support them. hypocrites. our veterans should NOT have to fight to get the pensions they so rightly deserve. what we are seeing is a systemic pattern of disrespect towards our veterans thats only growing larger as more return home from service.

hows that for a remembrance day thought?

i dont mean for this to take away from the very important remembering of those who have fallen in battle. i think that is important. however, i do believe its our job as citizens of our great country to demand that our government make right what they have made wrong. its our job to protest and demonstrate shoulder to shoulder with these men and women. if we actually support and appreciate them (and i pray we all do) then we wont allow this to continue.

 

links

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20101105/veterans-protest-compensation-101106/

http://www.royalcityrecord.com/Canadian+veterans+seeking+respect/3809477/story.html

http://www.northernlife.ca/news/localNews/2010/11/veterans071110.aspx

http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1/7304-canadian-veterans-stage-nationwide-protest.html

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