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Everyone has a voice, and a choice to use it well, use it poorly, or not to use it at all.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer

A deeply nestled joy burns in my chest now, as I am a man of twenty two years (and not dead yet!), swimming through the stars on my eternal journey. Joy like this comes only from one place - and I mean joy of a particular kind, not the highest joy. The highest joy is Christ. This joy - born of a beauty and a breath - is wild and uncertain, full of hope and increasing confidence in the cupped places of the universe. Cupped and overflowing, like hands held under gleaming folds of liquid life from a mountain stream. And confidence grows as again and again I jump, slip, and walk into them. And turn to find another palm-full poured over me. (Whose hands are these? I recognize them by their holes.) A universe like this, full of these - well now, it is good.

The highest joy now, Christ alone, oh how my fitful soul exalts in him! There must be a certain way in which each spirit delights in Him. The pagan lost find no delight in Christ, and thus have no true delight at all. The redeemed - we who are like mean weeds transplanted in a magnificent garden of wild and wonderful growth - each appreciate the Son according to their capacities and natures. I have seen Christ from the bottom of a filthy hole, and His face is all the sweeter for it. I continually come in tatters, my feet bloody from a path of broken glass, my mind full of the shame of my foolishness and sin, and LEAP into the pool of Siloam. Christ himself. I called to you for help, and you healed me. Healing is better than help.

So now, with joys of different varieties expanding my insides, I enter into what I expect and pray is my last semester at college. Hopeful for the land of beyond is what I am. Two years ago I walked into my first class at EKU, my mind shaped by Nepal more than by High School, the taste of dal bat still lingering in my mouth. Four months from now, God willing, I will walk out of my last final, and into something else. Patagonia, California, Nepal, Kentucky, work, seminary, or a life of moderately modified vagrancy...God knows where and how. A lifetime of ministry, adventure, and good, solid, sanctifying, redeeming work. 


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Brotherhood

There is an earthy transcendence about time I spend with brothers in the backcountry.

There, around the fire, under the stars, roasting meat, we are as men have always been when away from women and the duties of the day.

We talk with solemn freedom of the questions which surround us like the night - metaphysics, philosophy, and ethics; thoughts of God and purpose- not because we want to assert our knowledge but because we perceive that the man across the fire has wisdom to speak to my wondering. Iron on iron. Not because we want to "vent" (achieve emotional relief through mere flapping of the gums), but because here there is deep understanding. David and Jonathan.

We joke about truly funny things, enjoying the carefree lilt of the woods. Chivalry burns in each heart, I reckon, but here there is no need for chivalry - only respect, and respect allows some of what chivalry does not. So we sit in silence, laugh like lions, recite a few lines, pile a dead tree on the conflagration, poke a stick through a few more pieces of meat and roast them like a dead mammoth. "I was once, I declare, a stone-age man".

If we stayed long enough (a few weeks or years, depending) we would begin to miss what we left behind. Mothers and sweethearts, mostly. Missing a rib. For now, for these few hours, we sit, smoke, eat, laugh, and drink in a peace and joy as pure as bachelors can know in this world.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

B90X

Here at Eastern Kentucky University, I am involved with Cru. Cru is short for Campus Crusade for Christ, one of many dynamic campus ministries throughout the world. Cru's mission is to win hearts for Christ, build them in their faith and understanding of the gospel, and send them to the ends of the earth (to the fulfillment of the great commission our Savior gives to all the Saints).

This semester, we are reading through the New Testament of the Bible (the portion of the Bible written shortly after Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection) in 90 days - a rate of about three chapters each day. Upperclassmen are writing short posts to expound and explain each day's reading. I encourage you to follow along when you get a chance. Here is a link to a recent post I wrote. (CLICK) There is also a link to a reading schedule if you would like to start the B90X challenge.

By His grace and for His glory,
Willis

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ecuador Highlights

I recently returned from Ecuador, where I spent over a week in ministry and mountaineering. It was my first trip to South America and to the southern hemisphere. Because I did not have the money to go, I asked many people I knew if they would like to support me, and God provided. I am thankful for their giving, and that God involved them in my ministry.  Here are some photos of my time there. The good photos were taken by my friends Lane Dumm and Ian Hall.

(courtesy of google image search)
This is Rucu Pinchincha (15,413 ft). We climbed it to acclimate to the altitude.


This is our team at Remanso De Amor (The Haven of Love), a wonderful ministry run by a great man of God, Pastor Ramiro (kneeling, center, in blue jacket).


On the way up to Cayambe, one of out 4x4s had a slight issue. Fixed (by someone else) with the help of my Gerber multitool!

(courtesy of google image search)
This is the "Refugio" or summit hut where we stayed before our climb on Cayambe


We left about midnight, so as to travel on the snow while it was still well frozen. This photo was taken a little before dawn. 


I think this photo was taken at or near our high point of 18,370 ft on Cayambe. I'm on the left, my good Canadian friend Ian is on the right. This is by far the highest I have ever climbed.

 On our last day of ministry at Remanso De Amor, I helped "teach" a class of 4 and 5 year old boys and girls. My role was a combination of entertainer and enforcer.

This trip broadened my perspective of ministry, built new and existing relationships, increased my knowledge  and confidence in mountaineering, and got me even more excited about the transformational potential of experiential education.

Here is a poem I wrote about my experience on Cayambe. It may give you a better understanding of what it was like.


Cayambe

"Small, cold, slow start into the dark:
Big black boots make noise but no mark
On the big, black, volcanic rock
Piled like an old rascal piles blocks.

Snow comes white to meet us, laying
Flat and froze while we stand saying
Or praying thoughts to men and God,
As cold sits solid on the slopes.

Twelve steel knives give steady traction,
Slow, warm thoughts endow each action
With drive and purpose, happy glow,
Which does not mind that we go slow.

Our headlamps mimic Orion
Above, tramp on towards Zion,
Sing a hymn, chant a long low poem,
Stir minds like the pool of Siloam.

Stomp, stamp, champ, break and eat and drink
Some tea, punch out the chill and think
As we start again: this wild place
Loves like mother kissing my face.

Feel strong, sing song, some turn down
The chance to summit, I press on
Till dawn begins to break-make light,
Snowflake blur: walk by faith not by sight.

Surge forward now, one last good try,
Five thousand, six hundred meters high.
Summit like a moth out of reach
Flies away, we flow down without speech.

Each one reached a high point of soul,
Each mind wrapped it up as a whole,
Stowed it, stewed it, like a soup bone;
Shaped it, placed it, like a square stone."

I would love to go back to Ecuador some day, whether it be for mountaineering or ministry or both. What is the next step for me? By now I am done with the first week of the semester, with two more semesters to go after this one, God willing. This summer is an uncertainty, as is the whole expanse of time after graduation. I will walk as a sojourner in the path he has put me on, and continue to 1) search out the good deeds he has prepared for me to do 2) fight against the sin which still has a hold on this mortal body 3) keep my eyes in eagerness upon heaven and Christ.  All of this life is wonderful, but it is incomplete, and eternity beckons.

This, and all else good, is only by His grace and for His glory.