28.8.09

We won't be very far; a mile, an inch apart.

My dear dear friends,

What can be said that has not already been said? This summer has been absolutely crazy in the greatest sense of the word.

When I returned from Ottawa in May, my summer was planned: full-time at Coast Mountain, part-time at Mcdonalds, and a few weeks off to go and love kids at Qwanoes. Hang out with the friends and fam, play some basketball, whatever.

Instead, you happened.

And while I generally like life to happen as it does and I tend not to subscribe to the theory that my life is mapped out for me, a small part of me thought knew that when Petey called me on that Friday morning in May and asked if I was gonna take the job at BAC, my summer had been divinely intervened (read: celestially screwed) with.

I think what strikes me most about this summer is how you've told us over and over how much of an impact we've had on you, when really Petey and I spent most of the first two months worrying if you even liked us. We came to ICON on Friday nights stressed about whether the events would be fun, whether our songs were in order, whether the powerpoint would work... when really, all you guys wanted was interaction with us. As the summer went on, we started to realize that maybe we weren't doing that bad of a job after all, and that maybe you guys thought we were at least partially cool. For me, the moment that really got me thinking was the last day of Chinese Camp at Cedar Springs, when I sat with Lee-Ann, Kathleen, Jeff, and JC at dinner and they told me how much they enjoyed having Petey and me around. For you four, that may have been easy to say, but I want you to know that for me, it was SO encouraging to hear. I told Petey about it on Monday and we just sat there and reflected for like the rest of the day. Not that we do much at work anyway.

So thank you. Thank you for your encouragement throughout this whole summer, and thank you for your genuine words of love in these past few weeks. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms into your group (I can still remember JC and Lem introducing themselves to me at the first gym night.) Thank you for making time on Friday nights to come out to ICON, and thank you for coming with attitude and style and angst. We wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you for singing during worship, for worshipping during singing, for talking during Trigger, for playing during games, for flirting with each other during discussions, for discussing during discussions, for being quiet during discussions, for spitting chicken on my hand, for letting us know we were alright, for letting us know you were alright, for helping during fundraising, and for looking like royalty last Friday. Thank you for making way more of an impact on us than we made on you. Thank you for the hugs, the baked goods, the blog posts, the letters, the hugs, the songs, the hugs, the gifts, the tears, the conversations, the prayers, the hugs, the food, the hand-painted flowerpots, the inspiration, the fire, and the love.

Thank you for the crazy.

Love,

Chris

18.8.09

Things learned from August 18, 2009

It's amazing the impact a hug can have on someone.

6.8.09

Stories of Emergence: "I Told You We Weren't Crazy!" - Some Thoughts

I know that we are called to believe what we believe wholeheartedly, but I will be very very honest when I say that I doubt. All the time. How can I be so sure that the things I profess to be true aren't just as false as the next guy's truths? Or that the things I profess to be false aren't as true as the next guy's falsehoods?

Confused? Me too.

Brad Cecil goes over some of that confusion in his neat little write-up, "I Told You We Weren't Crazy", a chapter from Stories of Emergence. It's not exactly the most captivating thing to read, but it does offer some food for thought.

  • truths for me are not necessarily truths for you is not true
  • it is very ordinary to be unsure
  • just because we are called to believe wholeheartedly does NOT mean we are to accept all things at face value - UNDERSTAND what you believe
  • in a postmodern world where all-encompassing belief systems are the trend, we need to approach even our own beliefs with at least some form of skepticism. Otherwise, we will strip ourselves - and what we believe - of all credibility.
Anyways, just something to chew on.

4.8.09

Rejection never sounded so sweet.

On Saturday I hit up the Powell Street Festival, an annual whoopdedoo that happens in the heart of suburban East Van. According to the website, the "Powell Street Festival Society’s (PSFS) mission is to celebrate the arts and culture of Japanese Canadians and Asian Canadians... our main activity is the presentation of the Powell Street Festival (PSF), an annual celebration of Japanese Canadian arts, culture and heritage." My attendance was not by choice.

Let me be clear. I am not anti-Japanese, though if you're familiar with my first competition piece ever (here's looking at you, Ottawa folk,) then you'll know that I know the history of their people in correlation to the history of my people, and you'll know that while I have forgiven, I have not forgotten - like so many of my people - what they've done to us in the past. It is not for love that Japanese blood runs through my veins.

If anything, I have been wary of Japanese culture for as long as I've known of Japanese history, and while the North American society - including most of my friends growing up - has gone crazy for Pokemon and Nintendo, sushi and Hello Kitty, Ichiro and ninjas, I have always remained distant.

However, as I walked among the booths and tables Saturday, it struck me that I could have just as easily been browsing the organized chaos of Richmond night market, which is, for the record, one of my least favorite places in the entire world. And as I watched a Japanese cultural dance, I could see more than coincidental semblance to the lion dance I used to lead as a young kung-fu kid. As I observed the people in the park that day, a history that I have long known but chosen to store away began to creep into the outer edges of my conscious mind again. Knowledge of issei who built rock-scrabble lives in the slums of Vancouver Island, barely getting by but always managing to put food on the table to ensure that a new generation of nisei would grow up strong, fluent in English and ready to champion the rights of Japanese-Canadians.

I have knowledge of how British Columbia treated them in World War II, ripping fathers away from families and breaking homes apart to make sure the Japanese invasion was not a homeland one.

It reminds me of the Chinese-Canadian history, when our forefathers connected this country by way of railroad, alone in a foreign land because their families couldn't afford to pay the head tax. It reminds me of the signs that read, "No Chinese or dogs allowed" that used to pepper downtown Vancouver. And it reminds me that, for all the tension that exists between our two cultures, maybe we're not so different after all.

Maybe shallow, but what forced my mind to start thinking? The abundance of half-Japanese, half-Canadian girls in attendance that day, lounging in the shade yammering in sansei English, hair knotted in experimental dreadlocks and skin permanently bronzed by British Columbia sun, a long way from the alabaster European complexion that first landed on the West Coast so many years ago, or the pale yellow tone of the original Japanese immigrant. Their style and speech tell me that most of them have been here longer than we have; their cockiness tells me that race is the last thing on their collective mind, for they have found humanity's sublime.

And if it took a festival's worth of gorgeous half-Asian girls in summer dresses for me to realize that I might not always be right after all, well then... in the words of one Adriel Luis, rejection never sounded so sweet.

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