Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day 227

i woke up early today at a room in the resort on the hill. it was almost nine am and snow was falling. just outside the window the ski lifts jerked and started their slow cycle. a few minutes later, i was heading up as well. the new pair of ski goggles brought the view of the snow and cabins and mountains through a sepia tint. i paused at the top of one of the runs and sat near the edge of the drop off, strapped in and ready to go, while dusty snow whipped against the plastic mask and a fuzzy sun began to climb into the sky. this is perfect, i thought to myself. it's good to have these moments, to be alone and still at the top of a mountain before the first ride on a mint morning. i'm thankful for all this. near the end of the day, a rough patch of combined powder and soft bushes ended up claiming the life of my only snowboard. snap. i had really liked my board.. but after the goggle incident the other day, i'm kind of excited to see how a new one will be presented.

today is christmas eve. day. i'm sure everyone who has a blog has reminded the others of this fact and i'm sure an equally respectable amount of people are readily admitting that its snuck up on them. both are true here too.

there was a christmas eve service at church- obvious fact number three. but i don't think that what happened in the little, packed out building could have been readily matched in spirit and content anywhere else. the church isn't a trendy church, like an imago dei or heartland or wherever else the church people look like they work at gap and american eagle, but this small, conservative baptist church was pulling people in through an advertised hour of christmas music. the band was sharp and pastor shawn led the christmas tunes. it felt like a normal service. then, towards the end, he presented a way for the people to get involved in more than just singing along with a band. after learning and practicing a quick choir-like three part harmony, people smiled and stood and sang.

the message at the end was short. a few minutes into it, the drummer thumped a tame, repetitive beat. shawn stood in the candle light and gave an analogy of how God's creation and salvation was like an eternal rhythm. soon the bass started walking and the piano filled the upper atmosphere of the groove with crisp thirds. then guitars. same jam, same riffs, same everything. like a beat.

i looked at the nearest faces in my area to guess what they were feeling. i wondered how many of these people were making their annual church appearance here tonight. then shawn played an out of key chord. he played it loud- like he said that some people try to play their life or success or the pursuit of riches and who are still confused why its all still not sounding good to them. he tied in salvation to this too. i took mental notes of the whole moment and had ideas for what i wanted to write about later. now, i can barely remember the outline and have started from scratch, but what shawn said and did made an incredible amount of sense to me.

i've been feeling the rhythm. i'm saved and try to follow Jesus but i could still admit and identify the presence and influence of this eternal beat lately. in fact, i probably felt it this morning on the mountain. and i felt it when i received the goggles. a faith-rhythm. now i wish i'd at least jotted a few notes on a scrap of paper like normal so this doesn't all sound cheesy now, but if you've been reading for a while then i hope that the connection can be made. in fact, i'm counting on it.

however, all these little ideas and plans in my head took a sudden back seat when i heard the news. my grandpa died tonight. when i'd left illinois in may for camp i'd had it in my mind when we'd last gone out to lunch together and during the last goodbye and exclamation of 'youhooo' that this might be the last time i see grandpa bill. and i knew he'd been declining lately. even past the age of ninety-two, he was the strongest-white-haired man i'd ever know. lately, this apparent and tricky matter of death had been considered as an imminent arrival. grandpa inspired me to play harmonica and we jammed a couple times but it mostly resulted in playing along with him to classics like 'oh my darling clementine.' he also was an excellent example of style and ease in the way that he always wore a fedora hat and sweater and called the waitresses 'honey' as he shook their hand at the end of a meal to give them their tip. i first started drinking coffee during our meals together. he knew several languages and would always get angriest in his native, polish tongue. when i first got to fernie and was buying bagels and bananas for sustenance, i carried around my change in a small, plastic bag just like him, except my collection was nearly the sole representation of my current value. i talked with my family tonight back home for quite a while and things seem to be at peace all things considered. i think i'm almost at peace. whatever all-things-considered means.

even tonight as i pedaled home from church, noah gundersen's song ''poor man's son'' was repeating on my ipod. he was singing about being stone cold broke in the middle of winter and not wanting gold or silver and then there was a verse that said

"i feel a cold wind blowing dark clouds on the western sky
i gotta feeling like knowing
that everyone here will someday die"

and that's where i'm left tonight- christmas eve- with reminders that i don't need much and that everyone here will someday die.

and that the beat goes on.

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