Category Archives: Slice of Life

Being the “Bad Guy”


Recently my oldest son and I watched a show on Netflix called Daredevil, and it lead to many weird and deep conversations.  Most conversations involved – at least to some point – the fact that we were strongly disagreeing with each other about a character called Fisk.  On first glance, Fisk (a rich guy with flunkies, body guards, car conveys and huge anger management failures) and his nemesis Matt Murdock (a blind freelance lawyer lying to his friends and also being a masked vigilante beating up criminals and thieves) both actively made their decisions and actions based on their total belief that they were doing it for the good of the city they loved and the people who lived there.  I think Fisk is a sociopath, or a combination of serious psychological diagnoses, whereas Patrick thought he was determined, focussed, using his money and power in intelligent, precise ways Matt was too poor and grass level to even dream about accomplishing.

The series is over, we still disagree about Fisk, and while I’ve forgotten most about the show, there’s one piece of dialogue that I can’t get out of my head.  I keep gnawing at what Fisk says, and it’s guided my scripture study and self-examination ever since.

Fisk said:

I was thinking about a story from the Bible… I’m not a religious man, but I’ve read bits and pieces over the years. Curiosity more than faith. But this one story… There was a man, he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was set upon by men of ill intent. They stripped the traveller of his clothes, they beat him, and they left him bleeding in the dirt. And a priest happened by, saw the traveller, but he moved to the other side of the road and continued on. And a Levite, a religious functionary, he came to the place, saw the dying traveller, but he, too, moved to the other side of the road, passed him by. But then came a man from Samaria, a Samaritan, a good man. He saw the traveller bleeding in the road and he stopped to aid him without thinking of the circumstance or the difficulty it might bring him. The Samaritan tended to the traveller’s wounds, applying oil and wine, and he carried him to an inn, gave him all the money he had for the owner to take care of the traveller, as the Samaritan, he continued on his journey. He did this simply because the traveller was his neighbor. He loved his city and all the people in it. I always thought I was the Samaritan in that story. It’s funny, isn’t it? How even the best of men can be deceived by their true nature.

FBI Guard #1: What the hell does that mean?

Wilson Fisk: It means that I am not the Samaritan. That I’m not the priest, or the Levite. That I am the ill intent who set upon the traveller on a road…

I was floored by that sentiment, that self-study and awareness, and that scriptural angle. I often poke at myself: my persistent soft belly, evaluating how I’m doing as a parent, how much my calm is damaged in peak hour traffic, if my anxiety or depression needs professional help, which fictional character I’d most like to be… it’s all part of what I consider and try to be regularly aware of.  The same with scripture study – I try to liken the scriptures to myself, so that I’m the repentant prodigal son AND the oldest son AND the father waiting and watching the road… but I had never considered being the bad guy. Not the “before” guy, the ignorant, the uncaring. At least, not unknowingly. Continue reading Being the “Bad Guy”

Becoming Fluent

Little Language Teachers
Little Language Teachers
This week my family is on a few days vacation with some friends visiting from Switzerland. Their two daughters are near the ages of my youngest two children. When they stand together, they could be siblings with their dark hair and wide eyes. There is one problem between them, my children do not speak Italian and their children do not speak English. “How will they talk to one another?” I thought. It has been interesting to watch them come together. At first, there were timid smiles and head-nodding acknowledgment. This changed to speaking at each other in their own language and hoping the other person understood. I watched them jump on our trampoline together. They pointed and acted out what game they wanted to play. Slowly, as they have spent more time together, they started to teach each other words. Yesterday, their 10-year old daughter hopped in the back of our car and sat next to my kids. They opened an Italian teaching app on the Ipad and talked and laughed and laughed. They wanted to meet in the language gap. The space filled with love and somehow, despite the barrier, they understood each other.

As I watched their interactions, I started thinking about the language obstacle I sometimes feel between the Lord and I. Some days I feel like I can hear His desires for me so clearly and sometimes weeks can pass where I do not feel like I am hearing the Spirit. Too many times the Lord has to speak to me in my language rather than me making the effort to learn His. Should it all be one-sided? Do I talk at Him instead of reaching to Him? Will I understand Him more when I become fluent in His tongue? Few of us on the earth have heard God’s voice directly into our ears, but He has left us a powerful testimony of His existence. There are messages all around us that are sent without speech. His voice is the voice of allegory and it began at the moment of Creation. This is when He spoke the word as Logos and the earth began.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.” – Psalm 19:1-5 (NIV) The Lord is in the sky, the stars, the planets, the trees, the plants, and even the smallest blade of grass. He is talking all around us. He proclaims silent truth through his symbols.

With these same “bilingual” children, I have been walking barefoot through the rich, brown sand that is scattered throughout southern Utah’s unique rock formations. It is like stepping into the palm of God. He cradles you in stillness and in that silence He demands to be heard. “Listen! Look around you! Feel the wind picking up the sand and moving it down through the canyons. Be the wind and be able to bend and move where I take you. See that smooth, crooked wood on the ground? That is you aging. Some would cast you aside for being dry and useless, but I will make you into a work of art or the fuel for fire. Sit for a moment by this small creek and watch the water. It once flooded the banks and fed all the small plants around it. Sometimes it is full beyond its boundaries and can care for others, sometimes it is small and timid, but it moves forward and finds its way home, just like you. Trust in the ebb and flow.”

God is never silent concerning His nature or the messages that He wants to give us. I desire to learn His sacred language. It begins with a smile and nod of acknowledgement. I then prattle on in my own language and then move to gestures. But this weekend, because of the example of young children wholeheartedly jumping into communicating with each other, I just learned God’s first vocabulary words.

A Punnet’s Worth (and Then Some)


After significant accounting, historical research, graveyard excavation and gnawing introspection, I have come to a decision that has shoved my world off its axis, and is still rattling my bones.

I am worth $6.99.

This discovery was prompted (in all its complicated monstrosity) by a punnet of raspberries. A “punnet” is the packaging size of fresh raspberries here in Australia – a fragile, tiny plastic clamshell to carry your hairy rubies home… if you pay about $6 for the ransom privilege.   The punnet weighs about 125 grams (a quarter pound), so it’s not a whole lot of bang for your bucks, so the cost:benefit ratio has always been hugely ridiculous… until a couple of weeks ago.

Previously, every time I saw them I’d stop, look at their plumpness, (stealthily suck in the scent of them) and – weighing up a running tally of and scrolling logarithm of if/then/else/and/therefore, continue past to more sensible fare.  But that particular week, raspberries were on special, and their siren call was spectacular.  So I bought a punnet, babied it through the cartons of milk and bags of potatoes required for the feeding of giants, into the car then ate every single one before I got home 10 minutes later.

Home, where I had raspberry breath and guilt thick around my shoulders. What on earth was going on?  History, that’s what. Continue reading A Punnet’s Worth (and Then Some)

Lessons from the Monster-In-Law

i have learned - kahlil gibran

I had an entirely different post percolating, when my lanky Lurch said from the kitchen “Hey Mum….”  Long, hard-won experience has told me that NOW was when I had to turn from my computer, my deadline, my headphones and listen. Listen, and ease into the conversational tempo that best works for my son… like a calm ocean strolling onto a deserted beach. Unhurried, considered, and deep.  I, of course, am naturally more like the toddler shrieking and bouncing at the waves coming to kiss my feet, or like the shark telling itself it’s going to nibble off just a little toe…

Turns out, a question I asked more than an hour previously had soaked in, and he was ready to share.  Turns out, it involved feelings, and relationship potential with someone, and rules that her parents have in place, and his request that I more clearly define my rules and expectations on the subject.

Somehow I managed not to stomp my foot and boom “NOT UNTIL YOU’RE THIRTY!” As much as it galls me, I have my monster-in-law to thank for  attribute that to a significant degree.  Know, right from the start, I don’t use the term lightly – she was incredibly awful to me for over a decade. She’s now my EX monster-in-law, but I’ve been thinking of her as my oldest has grown ever closer to legal adulthood, and closer to girls he’s not related to.  Continue reading Lessons from the Monster-In-Law

We’re All Mad Here

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum’s Reasons for Admissions, late 1800s

I found the above picture a fair while ago, snared by the bewildering reasons people were put into insane asylums. Asthma? Novel reading?  Really? I stopped counting after 20 possible reasons I could admit to, and I wasn’t even halfway through the list (there’s about 90).  Maybe “insane” meant different things back then, or the existence of asylums created different behaviours or needs? It seems human nature to put definitions on things, both sleek and clunky. There’s a quote that often makes the rounds on Facebook that I can’t stand. It says something along the lines of “depression/anxiety/crying isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’ve been strong too long.” I think that’s a load of stupid piled onto a mountain of useless.  The first part I know and believe – depression (or the others) is not a sign of weakness. Far from it. But it certainly is not a sign that you’ve been strong too long.  We’re all mad here, we just may not know if we’ve gotten there yet.

Nearly two years ago, a tower was built way down the bottom of a mine shaft in my mind. Of course it doesn’t make sense – it was depression and that is one slippery, sly sucker punch of sneaky jerkitude that has the superpower of making the nonsense seem totally rational and acceptable.  I found myself spending longer and longer in the tower, noticing distantly that part of it was being walled off. Within months, there was a section totally blocked off from light, from peace, and while “I” would be going about my day hanging out laundry or baking a cake or attending classes or work or praying, I could hear the broken, constant sobbing of myself on the other side of the wall. Nonstop. All hours of the day and through my nights. A noise more constant and way louder than my own heartbeat, my conversations, my common sense. I couldn’t outrun it, drown it, ignore it, do anything about it… except accept it. Depression sure messes with your senses and ability to make sense of anything, let alone what you’re feeling.

Turns out, my ovaries has mutinied. Continue reading We’re All Mad Here