Thursday, December 29, 2016

Beauty and Mystery of Faith: From Personal Experience

The First Misconception

Faith is not a wishing well. Believing and praying does not make a painless life. If you live on this earth, there will be pain; it is the cost of living. We live in a broken world full of free will and
worldly things.

I think it is a detriment to faith, the idea that if you pray you will succeed or your loved one will survive. I have learned that our path has many diversions. We have a plan but God has his own and believing doesn't make an easy path, there is unexplainable joy that eases some of the pain we experience.

My Story

Faith is an easy thing to profess when everything is going well. It's when things go wrong, when we lose loved ones, when we are frightened; that's when it is a powerful thing that we can actually feel working in us.

My dad died when I was only ten years old. Faith is what brought me and my family through. Our paths intersected with people in the church, my mom sang in the choir, we met two great friends that were there when we needed them. Through that sad time, we survived and we felt a joy you can only explain if you experience it.

Coincidence or Divine Intervention

Like most people, I have always had a fear of cancer, a fear of losing loved ones to an illness. I think my fears are more intense being an artist and having lost my dad so young.

Early in our relationship, my fiancé experienced a lump in her breast and at the time I had no tools to handle the situation in fact I made it worse. It was more about my fear and anxiety than hers. It all turned out well but I was soon to learn how to deal with my fears and lack of faith.

A divine intervention started with a kidney stone. It was a series of hospital visits and a procedure that brought me to a point of depression and anxiety. After a sleepless night and a day of missed work, I realized it was time to get help.

I have suffered from depression and anxiety from a very young age but have never missed a day of work or school since I was ten years old. It was time to talk to someone.

After several weeks of therapy, my counselor shared with me a story about a family member of hers who had cancer. She read me a letter and it was like someone else in the room was insisting I needed to hear it. She told me she didn't read it to everyone but felt she needed to read it to me.

The next day my wife had a cyst explode on her ovary. For the next twelve hours we spent in the emergency room I overheard words like biopsy and malignant but because of my recent divine intervention I stayed strong, I was faithful. Instead of it all being about my fears I was strong for my soon-to-be wife.

A Blessed Event

Soon after that frightening time and because of the cyst being removed, we had a child. A blessed event and an amazing time in both of our lives, a new house, new cars and we were living the American dream.

When our son was just two years old he had an intestinal interception. My wife and I watched as my very young child suffered through tubes up the nose, scary medical procedures and finally a surgery. It was a week we spent in the hospital with him where we all held our breaths and prayed.

He got through the procedure but in the next few months he would be back in the hospital for a blood infection which would turn out to be even more frightening than the previous stay. I remember holding this precious little guy in my arms, he was scared and I knew the nurses were on their way with a papoose, a medieval torture device, okay that's how it seemed to me.

I literally felt a lifting of both of us, as if we were momentarily brought out of that dark and scary place. We got through all the procedures and in that time I went to church and felt it like nourishment as I had never felt it before.

When my wife and I went through the darkest parts of our marriage, I knew God was with me, I wasn't happy in fact I was terrified most of the time but I got through with a peace I can barely explain. I was never alone through the whole process and as horrible as it was, I wouldn't trade it all for nothing as it made me who I am today.

The Body is Always Vulnerable: Faith Protects the Soul

I don't believe faith will bring exactly what you want but I do think it will equip you with what you truly need. In recent times I have felt great fear financially and it always seems the money and means comes, not when I think I need it but in his time. Faith isn't being always happy and okay, Faith is found in the darkest moments when instead of terror we feel peace, instead of anger or frustration we feel calm, instead of indifference we feel joy.

Flesh is always at the mercy of the elements, of ourselves, of time. The soul is the eternal and everlasting gift we have, take care of it and you will find miracles in the darkest times and than you will realize what faith is all about.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

News and Drinking Kool-Aid...Who's right? Who's wrong? Facts? Half-truths? Hard to keep up.

I have been accused of drinking the Kool-Aid and the assumption leads where ever my political bent leans. What can you say when I don’t believe either side, only a portion of what I see and little of what I read.

This is the era we live in: an excess of information, half-truths, political bias and a desperate need for ratings, gaining followers, getting shared. Fake headlines; once restricted to a media with bias now has been commandeered by national and international private entities seeking hype.

It used to be the outlandish headlines sold rag papers; Aliens have kidnapped Elvis, a woman has a monkey baby. These headlines were assumed for entertainments’ sake and no one reasonable would take them as fact. It now seems like rag and true journalism have become often indiscernable.

The mainstream media, takes initiative to bring you the story before it is even a story with a  goal to be first at any cost. Truth becomes assumed, placeholders to fill the 24 hour news cycle until the details of the story become available.

Giving up it’s old standard of getting all of the facts straight, the media developed it’s own latitude of not only filling in the blanks for you but explaining only what you need to know. When you show old pictures of a person for emotional fodder or only use words for the impact of your viewers, the story has become propaganda instead of truth.

Our news has become much like the prosecution and the defense on either side making their point by only showing a piece of the whole story.  On either side the rabid viewer digests what they insist are facts while calling the other side fools and misguided, drinking the Kool-Aid.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Offense of Winning: Can We Just be Kind?

I am all for winning! I support those that celebrate at the end of a game. I am all for keeping score, competing to your best ability, this highlights the best in the human spirit. Ive watched a youth from the losing team celebrate after a touchdown. He was kicked out of the game in an attempt to make sure no one was offended, political correctness misses the point again.

We are desperate not to offend these days and yet we are more nasty to each other than ever, just read the social media posts. Instead of honest dialogue that can be addressed and corrected, it is kept under wraps, it seeps to the surface, and it's more vicious than ever.

When kids are very young, that's when they need to be taught, not only not to say hurtful things but why they shouldn't. Instead of political correctness, we need to teach humility, empathy and compassion.

An expectation of nice and an intolerance to the unkind is not working. The bully is a bully because of something that is not being addressed. We need to open dialogue, we need to pull the bully out of the shadows and address the unkind instead of ignoring and suppressing them.

Even those being bullied are suppressed because defending yourself has become somehow just as unacceptable as bullying. Instead of ignorance of the fact, punishment and intolerance, maybe knowledge, compassion and common sense would be more effective to address the issue of a society that seems it's becoming less kind.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Who can we trust? Too many news options and each with their own agenda!

Where do you get your news? Some insist the mainstream media is left bias while others are sure Fox News is a right wing propaganda machine. Both sides are sure they are being duped.

What I’ve learned while trying to find out the actual popular vote; you can find whatever answer you need to support your theory. There are fact checker sites that debunk false stories, but who’s debunking them?

It’s frightening to me that with all of the news options we have, it’s hard to find one undisputable truth. Everyone has an opinion and if you listen to the same people assuming they are the truth tellers-you will always be at the mercy of innate bias.

I don’t consider myself very trusting, I don’t trust any news or media outlet because these days it’s about opinion and proving a point. The media finds it their responsibility to educate the foolish masses, so the end justifies the means.

You only get a snapshot of a conversation, a specific photo that proves a point. Much like our system of law, prosecution and defense are based on a theory and you show a jury only that which supports that theory.

We can show the state of affairs in any way we see fit. If we want society to seem hateful and bias, only show the rioting and hide any sense of harmony. Just like the defendant is dressed up in court to show an appearance of innocence, suddenly that rough exterior is changed to a clean-cut persona.

Unless we are there, we really can’t take anything as truth or fact and yet each side talks down to the other as if the other is uninformed. The blur between pure journalism and propaganda has become indiscernible even though, or maybe because, we have so many options to get news.

No one calls their news propaganda, only the people that receive the news and question it’s authenticity use this term and it’s usually after the fact. In 1939, Germany could not justify war for its true intention of expansion but if you stage incidents and call it self defense than the people are behind you. It’s all language, showing just what you want the public to see, if there is no violence and you need it to be violent, you bus people in to show there is violence-the end justifying the means.

I believe that doubt is actually a great thing. It keeps us discussing politics and world events with question versus bias and certainty. I only wish we could have a bit more civility between us as it is supposed to be a country of many ideas and just because someone doesn’t agree with yours, it doesn’t mean they are stupid or uninformed.

So where do you get your news and how do you know it’s true? Let’s start a conversation and maybe in the end we will find a glimmer of truth.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Morning: So many stories so much commentary, so little time

I watch Sunday Morning every Sunday. It is a special show to me because it doesn't concentrate on just the good or only the bad, it doesn’t linger on theatrics, fears or politics. It speaks of truths and it connects us to the human condition and leaves us inspired.

I love to see stories about people who do incredible things from the simplest backgrounds and beginnings. To me, it speaks not only of the human condition but often the American ideal.

You get to make your own decision and most often the person I didn’t think I liked shows me something beautiful about their spirit, about who they truly are behind the headlines and bias.

I enjoy the collectors, writers and dreamers. I’m inspired by those that build planes, building and businesses because they thought they could. It shows the immigrant, both sides and from different perspectives.

It peals away the outside of people, places and things and describes them without judgment. It is a news show that tells the story the way it should be, allowing the viewer the privilege to share just a glimpse into another’s life and see from another perspective.

I’ve never watched the late show with John Stewart but I think I’m going to start watching Trevor Noah, his replacement. He talks about true racism, Apartheid rule, where you can be arrested for marrying the wrong race and even worse for daring to have a child.

He’s from a black mother and Swiss father and his humor has the depth and truth of his experience. He speaks about being pitied for his past and what he’s come from, instead he sees it as triumphant. His mother is shot twice, once in the head and her humor allows a young child to get through a terrible situation.

His mother offers him two things that she can make sure he had, knowledge and food and she delivered against all odds. They are heroes in my book and instead of complaining and fretting about fair and unfair, they have lived extraordinary lives.

I have spoken with people who have lived in Africa and the one common thing they’ve said is that America takes a lot of what they have for granted. Instead of realizing how lucky we are, many look for lawyers to get us what we deserve, demand the government give us what we need and cry about fair and unfair.

The life of a victim is not a great life and if the people in other countries who have lived through the trials and tribulations of true racism and oppression can see themselves as fortunate and triumphant maybe Americans can find a positive place to live in this great, not perfect but still great country.

The People that Make America Great

Two other stories I was impressed with was a man that cleans the tombstone for veterans and a group that resurrected a B29 aircraft. It’s people in this country doing small things that bigger and more important than what makes the news.

You see into people’s lives and you realize there is good in this country. Regardless of religion, race, creed, there is more that connects us than divides us. There is great in this country, there are great people who love this country and love each other and do great things. We just don’t often hear about them because they are not sensational, they don’t know the Kardashians and they aren’t tabloid fodder.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Late Hours: Loneliness Finds the Hopeful

The Late Hours

Is no one
A loneliness that holds on your arm in an icy embrace
And the shadows are long
And the daylight is absent
Nothing moves
But time is always
Slipping by
And you open your eyes
In Octobers surprise
And feel more cold and empty
Than seasonal
As the autumn leaves all
Seem colorless
And you sit pending
As the very state of being
Seems so abstract
Hanging in the balance of a liquid
That keeps the mind suppressed
And allows those moments, deeply depressed
Passing by
Like water under a bridge
What the self in a mirror
Changing by the hour
Light color flowers the happiness in a day
The dark blue violets scream the late hours….

 My Crooked Spine

My crooked spine
leads me through a forest of doubt
biding my time
dark faced birds wrestle with words
sing a song you won't forget
waiting for the sunrise to open my eyes
it hasn't happened yet
My crooked way, a path we all walk
we all question the light ahead
I walk alone in the darkness
a smile to the strangers with kind eyes
a silence, an absence
no on realized
my crooked spine
it's been a few years wrestling age
disgusted with time
walk on the path, the darkest forest
God smiles, everything's  fine...


So happy to be here with you
But I can’t
I suspend in hours
A ghost, holding, no ones hand
A fiend with teeth that glitter from beneath grey bone
Sits on the edge of the couch
Across the room and reminds me, I’m alone.
Call it a skeleton of the self,
The sripped down reflection in a mirror
The wireframe image of laughter
On white walls where the sunlight
Lost its way long ago
All I have is the shadows of hours
Shadows of a day passing by
I should be thankful if not for the space
Between us
Even myself keeps its distance
The grays in this house
The disarray
Even my son stays away
All acceptable, I understand
But loneliness gives me so much
With a heavy hand
I lay in a bed in an empty room
And the morning figure
Coming soon
Wake with that panic
Or the insatiable feeling of life
Through my lungs
Where have you gone through the dark
Bends and twists of evening dreams
Its lonelier than it seemed the day before
And I can’t stand this feeling much more
Just for a moment to bask in your glory
But there is nothing you need to do
The absence of the this weight, this cumbersome self
such a pleasure to be with you.

The Absence

You tell them, you’ve lost your job
But some of them seem surprised
As if you’re barely awake
And barely alive
Did I fool myself into thinking this was a weight I could bare
It’s the absence that’s killing me
But I'm always absent
And you’re never there
The absence of that space
I should be joining spheres
Leaving here
But the empty rooms
The shadows of a day
Keep me here
So comfortably we make our beds
We sleep alone
Remember what you said
I like to be alone
but when everyone turns away, the solitary insists dismay
Assume your okay
It’s what you’ve always said
And they’ve heard it for so long
But what if loneliness is a cruel friend
and you were always wrong…

Silence Inside

The weight of the self, you lie there awake
A blade of grass in a field
Where you seek the end of summer
To feel
That hopelessness come fall
My father laid down
This time of the year
When I was ten
That feeling of the cold evenings
And beautiful days, remind me again
We lose our place in the text
Forget what we need to protect
I wait in this shadowed hall
Hoping no one will see
And yet the sign on the wall
My badge is lonely
And it sits on my shoulder
A petulant blackbird
Singing it song
Fills in the gaps of life

When the hours seem too long

All photos and words copyright artbygordon 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Soul Exposed: Across Colorado

I saw the mountains
And they stared back with indifference
And yet a comfort like no human being
Could ever convey
That feeling of being overwhelmed by beauty
As all the outer stresses melt away
And they stand so tall
Above me
And they seem to dwarf all questions I could ever ask
Their beauty makes me feel
Like the water in a stream
It rushes through every limb
And every point a flame
I don’t remember yesterday
I’m just glad I came

And they comfort my dying form
As the autumn trees lay down their own
In the silence, a victim of such distance
But I don’t feel alone
Instead, God seems closer
Colors are brighter
And with that passion
Sweeps across my troubled mind
No words to write
No questions to ask
A captured moment in time
When the mountains spoke with out a word
The most beautiful sound of silence
The most hopeful voice I’ve ever heard

God is a painter
And I’m ashamed
Of ever attempting to say
One word or stroke of hue
That could make you feel
The same
It’s no mistake we all stand quiet
All in our own space
We watch as the light and the colors
By the seconds change
And the lesson begins
As a stranger says and I agree
God is an artist
Describing it beautifully
I never offered up any of my words
Or even dare call myself an artist
Instead I spoke of my son
The only work to even compare
Across a vast autumn valley
both of us in silence stare

All the majesty of a Tuesday afternoon,
Set free across the great divide like a wind
Landscapes waiting to uncover
Secrets I never sought to find
Flaming aspens
Rich yellows and golds, crimson and wine,
Time seems kinder
Leaves me to my space
As every corner another amazing landscape
That draws itself like a painting
Slowly giving up all its colors
And all its pain
The dark and violent storm, the peaceful rain
Sleet upon mountains high
Every word and every color explained
Across the long hills beneath the shadows of giants
They say nothing
And I comply
I could barely describe this sense of being

I hesitate to even try…