Sunday, July 26, 2015

Church - Sunday

It’s 10:30 am. That’s the time church starts.  I’m sitting on the couch in my housecoat.  Gilbert is lying on the couch at my feet.  I’m not going to make it to church. It’s been raining heavily.  Gilbert and I ran in the rain this morning. I’m aching.  My church, St.James Anglican, is in Vancouver’s  Downtown Eastside. l just moved my office out of that area after 5 years of being there.  Driving down there has been a true nightmare.  Zombie like drug addicts staggering about the streets, sirens and police angry at their impotence desperate to ticket a tax paying citizen because the local criminal and drug addicted population is a revolving door group that knows the law so well they invariably set up police for internal affairs and human rights commission investigations. I personally got tired of the screamers. The noise pollution is horrid.  Couples drunk or on crystal meth would walk down opposite sides of the street screaming full volume at each other about who spent the money on the last fix.  Needles littered the street. And politicians promised to make it easier for the locals to use and provide more ’stuff’ for them under the auspices of ‘harm reduction’.
I became cynical.  I was disheartened not by the victims of the drug dealers and the agencies, but rather with the horrendous waste of tax payer dollars and the corruption. It was also sad.  A tragic war zone.
I’m feeling I did my time. It was like a tour of duty.  A kind of non combatant military Afghanistan placement in the centre of Vancouver, one of Canada’s most beautiful cities.  I still work a day downtown but my lease came up and I was forced to move. So now my office is further along Hastings in the suburban zone, out of the downtown eastside.  My first day there I was shocked by the quiet.  There was no one screaming outside my window. There were no demonstrations. No honking horns. No sirens every hour. There was quiet. I’d forgotten what it was like.  I know it from weekends. To survive I’d gone out to nature, either the woods or the sea every weekend possible to cleanse myself of the work.  But now I’m not at all exhausted in that way after a week of work. The work is as demanding even more it seems at times but I took a walk in my neighbourhood. It was so different. No one was bullying me.  I didn’t have to wonder whether some scruffy guy selling cigarettes was going to move for me to pass through. I used to be fearful crossing Carrall at Hastings because a whole bunch of people close together on drugs and alcohol and their dealers congregated there disrupting the flow of walkers.  I felt sorry for businesses because all the tourists who’d love to walk to China town turned around before this army of  near do wells.
Inside the Supervised Injection Site has created a police no go zone so dealers up the street work in the open. No surveillance of the clinic or surroundings is allowed. So all manner of criminal activity and gang meetings go on around that there.  Millions and millions of  criminal dollars pass through this 8 block radius.  Nothing stays. It’s just drug city and deals are made here.  Heroin and BC Bud.  Now that the marijuana is legalized there’s more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks in the city. Most of them are around here.  There’s prostitutes as well.  And guns.  Not the guns the government tries to outlaw but criminal guns with serial numbers filed clean.  Hand guns, not long guns.  Bodies show up in the dumpsters in the alleys.
I’m more relaxed now.  My vehicles were broken into annually.  Once I was walking down the street a block from my truck and saw my dirty laundry.  “Hey, that’s my underwear, “ I said.  Sure enough, in a snatch and grab someone had grabbed my laundry and rifled through it as they continued down the street.  I picked my stuff up for a block but hated cancelling patients to get the truck into the repair and having to cancel more to pick it up.  When my computer was stolen it took months to restore the applications and files and get it back to where it was previously. Thankfully today iCloud gets past that kind of abuse.
Now I love my church.  I came when a man made a dramatic scene kicking my dog and girlfriend out of church where we’d gone for over a decade and even had the dog blessed by the bishop. He’s a therapy dog.  A great little cockapoo but my girlfriend was humiliated and I just think that anywhere that doesn’t want my dog really doesn’t want me. We’re pretty much a like.  At the same time I understand that some dogs and some owners aren’t socialized.  There’s a need for ‘rules’ and there’s a need for ‘exceptions’.  I remember when children were excluded from a lot of places. Then there was a time when Jews weren’t allowed. Then there was a time it was blacks and then Chinese. Then it was gays and now it’s still transexuals.  But really it’s dogs.  People have a way of creating ‘legalities’ and living in ‘legalism’.  It’s evidence of an inherent desire to exclude and to dominate and control.  I could even accept that dog owners need special insurance to take their dogs in ‘special places’.  I don’t buy the blanket statement by health departments against animals given how uncouth so many people are.  I’ve also been in civilized advanced countries where dogs are welcome in restaurants and churches.
So I was thankful when the former minister told me that “your dog is more than welcome, but I’m not sure about you.” he said jokingly.  There’s a general consensus that my dog is better behaved that me.  And I loved Father Mark and his wife.  I loved their children and dogs.  I began to love individuals in the church, especially Alice.  I loved that my friends Elizabeth and Karen introduced me to the church. I loved that Anna was there with her kids.  I loved several people I met there. I especially loved the jams at tea sales and the lunches and the coffee. The music was great. Father Mathew was an inspiration .  My hearing is not as keen as it was so the sound system bothered me. I had to move around to get my better ear in a better location.  I don’t know if it was the rock and roll or the hunting that’s caused the right ear to be increasingly selective but mostly I noted after Father Mark left that those giving the sermons were angry with the mikes rather than loving technology. So when Father Mark left I was a little less keen.
Now I’m not a summer Christian at the best of times either. I’m usually sailing or camping on weekends. I’ve never had so many weekends home in years.  The trip to Istanbul in the spring and Ireland a few weeks back has had me really enjoying sleeping and hanging out at home.  I would say I’m ‘isolating’ but I have no depression or lack of joy in my fellows. I just feel a little bushed. I’m off to see my brother next week and to Virginia after that so I’m travelling a lot and enjoying any down time.
I don’t like going into the DTES now. I don’t like driving there.  I’m a bit off driving perhaps after the intense Ireland driving on the wrong side.  It’s just I don’t want to deal with people walking on the road and Vancouver drivers lack of skills training.  There’s forever someone who hasn’t been toilet trained to use his signals.  Then there’s this weird macho competitiveness that holds up traffic all over the city because people don’t let people flow in but want to keep everyone else out of their lane.  The traffic jams occur as a result.  I think this is a product of multi culturalism, my bias, too many people trying to be number one and working out their issues on the road rather than cooperating together and moving with the flow. it’s also the drug addicts. and the cell phones. A lot of drivers are disconnected from reality and in their own stinky petty worlds.  The chaos in the DTES might make it worse.  I just don’t have any desire to get in a vehicle and go into town on the weekend for any reason.  Commuting has caught up on me.  I’m a half hour to an hour every day each way going to work and the commutes are getting more and more ludicrous with police blocking two lanes to stop someone rather than taking them off the highway so traffic continues to flow. There’s so much insanity out there that yes I like the safety and certainty of my suburban home on the weekends right now.
So no I didn’t get to church.  I’m better at getting to church in Winter and spring.  I love church but wonder if it’s time to find a new church.  I went to the nearest one here but the preacher was kind of teleevangical happy happy and the people were mostly old women.  The other church didn’t like dogs.  I may have to phone about.  It’s not on my list of priorities. I feel spiritually uplifted by my time with Archie and George.  I really should get out to be with those guys more often.  I’ve been enjoying walking and running with Gilbert.
I will sort everything out after Kingston and Norfolk.  Each year when I get together with the psychiatrists and we say the serenity prayer en mass I seem to find my direction. Right now I’m just crawling into the home plate.  Marking time.  I’ve got too much work and not enough money and want to work less but can’t see how I’ll manage because of the increasing costs and the inflation.  The projects I have are already delayed by lack of funds so I have to find more acceptance.  This city is so expensive too that I fear stepping out the door costs money.  I’ve paid for this ‘parking place’ for my body and Gilbert’s so it’s a ‘safe zone’.  I don’t feel I can afford to leave in a way.  I haven’t taken my boat out this summer because I don’t want to risk costs. The moorage I’m at has shrunk so I haven’t room to dock solo.  The fear of hitting another boat returning has me simply not wanting to take my boat out.
I love riding my motorcycle because its so cheap yet at the same time I’ve had this fear of injury as I still intermittently deal with the ankle injury I got when I dumped my bike in the intersection. A true nutter Vancouver driver slammed on his breaks crossing as a kind of epileptic seizure without any reason causing me to slam on mine. I had too much front brake and not enough back brake in the turn so my ankle twisted holding the bike up.  I realized the guy had this idea he’d cross two lanes and get into a shop but realized it was impossible and had done this bizarre stop as traffic was coming at us and me looking at the oncoming traffic not expecting him to stop with a clear lane ahead and no reason not to complete his turn. The ankle swelled up something fierce and I was thankful that George, who’d corralled me in church,  didn’t think it was broken and the X-ray he insisted on confirmed it.  The fact was that soft tissue tears aren’t nothing and it was a year of healing and still occasionally I’m bothered by it.  Indeed all the old injuries are flaring up with weather, all the sites of traumatic arthritis.  So on lilly livered days I’m find the idea of curling up in fetal position in bed attractive.  Not from depression but just a bit of anxiety about whats out there. I’m a little agoraphobic at times despite all the years of adventure.  Shell shock.
Now I have to trust in God. I’m praying and I need to meditate more .  But I need to floss and do sit ups too.  Maybe I’ll go over to the pool and swim. I don’t like all the kids in summer.  It’s best to get to the pool early morning or late at night.  I like the winter months better.  We’ve had some good guy meetings in the hot tubs. Talking about nothing.  Not now with screaming teens.
I’m enjoying movies.  I watched Sword of Vengeance last night and really enjoyed it.  Gilbert and I missed Laura.  She’s baby sitting a bird this weekend.  We’re just comfortable around her.  She makes Gilbert happier. Tom visited last week and it was a great evening meal. Gilbert was ecstatic with all his friends. I’m alone and that’s good at times but I like the company too. All a matter of balance. I’ve got a couple of friends here Dave and Mac and we were both talking about how much we enjoy being alone with the dogs. Guys and their dogs. But it’s good when the girls are over. Aging is a kind of return to late adolescence.  Hanging out, dating.   I have difficulty generating activities occasionally. I’ve got this full schedule. I collected laundry yesterday, did some cleaning on the boat, bailed the dinghy, dropped off stuff at the storage locker and that was Saturday.  I got a computer repaired on Friday yet I feel like I’m not doing anything. I work a full week. I’ve written chapters in a book. I’ve dealt with a half dozen emergencies in the evening. I ‘ve cooked my own meals and cleaned. I’m self sufficient.  I ‘ve walked the dog and managed him. I’ve showered and prayed, read , completed another book, watched some movies.  It’s not like I’m a slouch but I feel like I’m not getting the important things done.
This time on earth is to come closer to God. God acts through people. There are Godly things. I’ve done a lot in life. In Ireland and Turkey I was uplifted by visiting the shrines.  I’m talking with god. I read inspirational books, Richard Rohr, Emmett Fox, right now.  I’ve been reading so much theology over the year. I got the master of divinity and am working slowly on a book on spirituality. I’ve one trip left to complete the travels I’ve done specifically to form the basis of a Christian book on the dispersal of the message.  I would go on perpetual pilgrimage.
Then I’d be happy to be an emperor in a brothel with a maiden feeding me grapes. I would even at times have a valhalla heaven where I fought with swords all day to feast and fuck all night to start all over again.  I like lust and gluttony and sloth and all the character defects and don’t have a whole lot of discipline these days against ice cream. I remember when younger I flogged my body till I was a provincial champion athlete and then flogged my body a whole lot more to bicycle across europe and sail across oceans.  I am content right now on this couch with the dog beside me and the toilet nearby. I think I’ll move to relieve myself then make another cup of coffee and face the challenge of whether to watch a movie or read a book.
I’m thankful for this. Sometime today I’ll move further than the fridge. It seems to happen. I’m active for several hours on my days off doing applied activities when I was really doing nothing like the chores of yesterday, maybe 4 to 6 hours in total.  When I was sailing it was common for me to do at least 3 to 4 hours a day on some applied thing, maintenance, chores whatever. I expect if I was retired that would be the pattern.  Working now I’m doing 10 hour days. Wouldn’t it be great if I could be paid the same as I am for 10 hours for half the time. This would be human.  I’m a workaholic, wage nigger as it is.  It’s not the money that drives me as much as history. It’s just the way it’s been but now I’m older I’m having to rethink things because I ‘m tired more.  While a change is as good as a rest, I’m more into resting on weekends these days than I am in getting out and doing something.
The things I could do
1) Go through the storage locker and get rid of anything that is no longer being used. Get the  boat stuff on the boat. I’m not living on the boat so I might as well get all the boat stuff I moved off for space back on it. I could even get my scuba gear on it.
2) Get out in the woods on the 4x4 and set up targets and do some target practice. I have joined hunting clubs but the rifle ranges are full when I’ve gone so rather than pout get out in the gravel pits with pieces of plywood and get the rifles precision firing. The rifles are sort of entered but you really could use the practice and it’s a gas to ride about on the 4x4
3) you should be fishing. You’ve got the equipment and licenses but you’ve not gone this last year.
4) You haven’t used your golf clubs in years. Just because they don’t accept Gilbert on the courses doesn’t mean you couldn’t leave him at home and get out to a driving range. You love driving ranges.
5) Dancing. Now that you’re running and walking with less pain you could get out dancing.  You’re still a bit fragile but a night of dancing would do you good.  The guys are always encouraging you.
6) You have to learn Biblical hebrew and you should keep up with your spanish. Your spanish speaking friend wants you to visit and you’ve been meaning to get down there again. Your’ spanish speaking teacher has online courses. You should keep this up. Maybe read ST. Theresa and ST. John in their spanish language.
7) You really have to get on with writing the books you’re working on. I know it seems to be enough to get 2 or 3 pages written and that exhausts you but you could do more.
8) You have to visit some friends. You don’t see John enough.
9) You’ve not been playing guitar either. And you certainly could use lessons.
10) Theres the job of getting the files digitalized. You have to get started on that.  You have so much to do and you’re just not moving very fast on anything.

All in good time. God is good.  I’m so thankful for all I’ve done and all that is in progress.  I’ve not made it to church but I’m thinking about God.  I imagine God with me and imagine all is God.  I would be his eyes and nose and fingers too.  Right now Gilbert is licking my feet.  Jesus washed his disciples feet.  Gilbert is God like in many ways.  I don’t know what the ball fixation is. Is this an earth metaphor?  Now he’s stretching and hoping I’ll take him out where he can sniff butts.  He’s giving me that look. One paw on my arm.  He thinks a lot of what I do at the computer, the iPhone and various screens is not nearly as good as walking him.  I could do that more.  There’s a sedentary compulsion that takes over. I think I’ll get up.  Enough of this.
Praise the Lord.  yes.

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