The Willow Tree: Part Two

The Willow Tree:Part Two on Vimeo.

Without a doubt there is no shortage of images, video, and stories on social media espousing the extraordinary and the mundane. For me, life is about the simple things that combine and/or synchronize together into the complexity of life.

As a conservationist, I have always been fascinated by our natural environment and silviculture in particular. Our forest resources, whether natural or in a horticultural sense (i.e. the willow tree in my back yard), are renewable. If we treat our environment with respect and care, each new generation of our respective families, not to mention greater society, will benefit greatly.

The large willow tree in my backyard was cut down because the trunk had split, probably due to old age, and the willow tree was threatening to come down on the roof of our house, or perhaps the fence between us and our neighbours. It is conceivable that the majestic tree could have lived for another decade, but the risk of the perpetually strong prairie wind blowing it over was no longer acceptable.

According to one of the team members of the company that we hired, the wood chips will be recycled as ground cover for new trees and shrubs in private and perhaps public areas in the city. The useable firewood will likely be donated to someone in need.

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Motorized and hydraulic stump grinder in action.

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Butterflies are free to fly…

 

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Children understand the delicateness of freedom. Photographed in the river valley near Hamilton, Montana. © 2017 All rights reserved.

Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away, bye bye

Written by Bernie Taupin & Elton John

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Happy are the PeaceMakers

“…evangelicals have more in common with conservative Roman Catholics than they do with liberal Protestants.”
 
As one who is culturally most comfortable amongst Catholics and yet holds to many evangelical doctrines or beliefs, I must admit that my choices and worldview are a bit of an enigma. I have invested the better part of my life walking that thin line between these two sociocultural and religious groups in order to bring peace and focus on that which unites us rather than divides. This has often put me at odds with the hard right or left thinking of both groups, yet I have remained true to my sense of calling to be a peacemaker and mediator, not only between these two diverse Christian groups, but between a predominantly secular humanist Canadian society and Christianity.
 
True peace can only be achieved on the basis of truth and not falsehood, exemplified by tolerance and respect for others who have been created in the moral image or likeness of God.
Tolerance and respect are ideals, that if we are truly honest, are ideals that we all falter or fail at from time to time. But, we should never give up in our pursuit of these noble ideals.
 
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 NLT
 

The Nature of Discovery: A Journey of the Mind

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Life is an open road

I would like to take a moment to thank each one of you who have chosen to follow my blog, EclecticChoices. Today marks a milestone for me – 101 unique followers. Thank you for your participation on WordPress.

I started this blog five months ago to demonstrate that people from many different nations, cultures, political and religious beliefs, educational backgrounds, etc., can find common ground in just about anything in life. We may not agree with each other on any number of ideas, concepts, or philosophies, but we are all here to learn from each other in a common sense and respectful way.

I chose the name EclecticChoices because that is an apt description of my entire life. I have made many unique and somewhat unusual decisions or choices in my life. Some of those choices have led me off the beaten path to both metaphorical and literal places of intrigue and wonder. As a Canadian with a cultural heritage of Norwegian and German, my wanderlust seemingly has no boundaries. Yes, I have physically travelled to many places on this great blue planet – each one eclectic and unique in its essence. At the same time, and perhaps so much better, I have endeavoured to go on a journey of the mind.

There is infinite truth to discover in this life. The joy of that journey is not so much in the destination, but rather the process. In other words, each new day, I delight myself in the process of learning and discovering, rather than worrying about the destination or purpose and end result.

I am not ashamed to admit that I am a sincere follower of Christ. It is through His leading and guiding, that I have come to experience those things magnificent – joy unspeakable. At the same time, if you have actually read a few of the 200+ articles on EclecticChoices, you know that I am just a human being subject to the same weaknesses and faults of all those around me. And that, my friend, is the beauty and wonder of walking together in this life.

One of the greatest ideals that I have sought after, with an almost unstoppable passion, is to exercise tolerance for those that may differ from my own worldview. This is not an easy thing to do, in a world of so many people with differing viewpoints. But, does that mean we should not continue to try? Of course not!

So, it is with that in mind, love and tolerance for each other, that I would encourage you to continue to walk with me on this journey together. Please feel free to comment on any post here with that notion of kindness, respect, and tolerance in mind. Thank you.

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A Safe Place

San Juan
A facsimile of a Sixteenth Century statue of Mary, mother of Jesus.

I have had the opportunity to attend a Christian church over the last few years that is composed of predominantly young adults often labelled as Millennials. People my age (middle of the spectrum) probably represent less than 5 percent of the congregation. Sometimes, that makes me feel old and out-of-touch with the Millennial specific cultural norms. Yet, regardless of generational and cultural differences, I think it is important to listen to the younger generation – truly listen. When different generations collide together without some intrinsic principles of tolerance and respect for one another, polarization and division is often the end result. One of the underlying principles of our young and rather exuberant church community can be summarized as follows:

We will be known for what we are FOR rather than what we are AGAINST.

Essentially, what that means to me is that we will be known as people who love God and love each other rather than what we oppose. Pretty simple stuff, yet for each one of us, it necessitates a trial and error PROCESS of living out our faith from day-to-day.

It would be an injustice to claim that rather imperfect people, from widely different age-groups, and equally variable social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, can mesh together flawlessly at all times. Living under the banner of love for God and love for each other is merely the beginning of a life-long journey for most. If one expects everyone to be in perfect harmony right at the onset, and requires that relationships work like clockwork – they will be end up being disappointed.

True love for others cannot be scripted. All relationships take time to grow and develop to fruition. Our love for God is but a faint reflection of his boundless love for us, and is demonstrated by our love for one another.

Someone once said that life is where the rubber meets the road. As a road cyclist, I can understand that metaphor quite well. A bicycle tire is pumped up to a considerably high pressure, three times that of an automobile tire. The contact patch of the bike tire on the pavement is actually quite small [about one square inch (2.54 cm squared) in a rather elongated pattern], and yet we still experience the effects of friction and resistance that slightly impedes our forward progress. The rougher the road surface, the greater the resistance. Loving God and loving others is like that – there always seems to be a little friction and resistance going on, but we are still moving forward. Somewhere along our journey together we hit a rough patch, and things get much more difficult.

May I suggest that this is where mutual acceptance and forgiveness comes in to play. We all make mistakes and sometimes we really mess things up. As a result of this, it is quite natural for human beings to desire a safe place where we can be loved, accepted, and forgiven for our inherent faults, character weaknesses, tendency towards selfishness, and so forth. The theologically educated will notice that I did not immediately use the word SIN. The Greek word hamartia, translated into the English word “sin”, essentially means to miss the mark (as in archery) and/or to intentionally miss the mark or standard that God intended for us.

Historically, I think that the concept of a family unit was intended to fulfill that need for a safe place in the context of a larger society. Unfortunately, for many of us in North American society, that ideal did not necessarily work out so well. The seemingly endless cycle of broken relationships and high rates of divorce has deeply affected generation upon generation of young people and adults alike. For better or for worse, this is our story.

Millennials understand the concept of a SAFE PLACE. They practically invented the idea on our university campuses throughout North America. The difference, however, between a predominantly secular humanist notion of a safe place and a Christian concept of a safe place is literally worlds apart. The former emphasizes shutting out even the abstraction of a personal God and any person(s) who holds to a worldview that contradicts their own, the latter is far more inclusive and tolerant of opposing ideas and welcomes God, as we understand him, into the conversation.

How do I know that? By my own life experience. I want to be loved, accepted, and forgiven like anyone else. To be respected as a person who has inherent value as a human being is something we all want.

As for me, I have chosen to hang out with a bunch of Millennials that have often been the brunt of a whole lot of stereotyping and criticism by my generation. I feel that I am an ordinary person living in an extraordinary time in human history.  Our little church community is just a minuscule part of something much bigger than all of us. It’s an honour to experience that together.

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A Story of Understanding and Respect

As a young man I often felt that the generation before me (my parent’s generation) did not understand nor respect the lifestyle and values of my age-group. Now, standing in the same situation as my parents did 30+ years ago, it is my own children (young adults) that have expressed their feelings of being misunderstood and disrespected by my generation.

I think that this tension is true for every new generation, especially in North American society. So what can we learn from history? Is mutual understanding and respect something to be earned, learned, or something implicitly inherent in all of us?

I take comfort in the wisdom and actions of the Apostle Paul. Here was a forward leader who knew how to lead cross-generationally. In other words, Paul knew how to relate well to the younger and older generations alike. In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, we read the words of Paul to his protégé, Timothy: “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and with all propriety, the younger women as sisters.”

Through Paul’s words to young Timothy, God is teaching us biblical respect for each other. I cannot speak for others, but I do want my life to be an example of understanding and respect for the young and old equally. Please consider the same endeavour.

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