Friday, July 28, 2006


You know, I think one of the hardest things for us to learn when it comes to our faith is a sense of dependence. In America, we have virtually all of our physical needs met, and it is really easy to do that on our own. By on our own, I mean without thinking about other people.

Almost universally, when I talk with people they love to help other people. But most people don't like asking for help. It requires humility. It is a confession of need. I think we are addicted to being self-sufficient. It's like it is part of what being an American is about.

As I walk through my second week without a car, I am starting to feel the addiction I had to it. I can't just get up and drive somewhere on my own. I can't take a drive out to cooper's rock in the middle of an afternoon just to chill. I can't run out of town to get away from things. I am here. And if I go somewhere, somebody is probably going with me.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that dependence. But there is part of me that really doesn't like it. I like being addicted to my car. Cars give us a degree of autonomy. But I don't think we are meant to be autonomous.

We kind of take it for granted that cars are a natural part of what we need to get by. 8% of the world's population owns a car. 85% of americans own one or more cars.

And it isn't just about the car. I have a big yard at my house. I am quickly realizing how overwhelming it is to try to care for this house and yard to the extent it needs it. It's really big, and I am just one little Indian. And largely, I don't fully understand a lot of this home and yardcare stuff. My dad took care of things growing up, and we had a number of neighbors who chipped in to help with big projects. I don't even know my neighbors. Slowly I am learning that if we are meant to look out for one another, I have to be willing to let people look out for me. I thought I had this down, and i do to a degree, but there are still vast areas of my life where i am learning how to trust, and how to swallow pride and be dependent on others.

People have been really great, understanding, and helpful with regard to my car situation. But there is a part of me that wrestles with being a "burden" on others. There is a part of me that wrestles with an automobile autonomy, and my addiction to being able to do it myself. I am really looking forward to the work God is doing with me, as He reminds me that I am a branch, He is the vine, and apart from Him, I can do nothing. He reminds me also of all of the "one another" verses that I can't fully obey, unless I am able to admit my need for other people.

I wonder how addicted we in the West are to our own autonomy? I wonder how isolated self-sufficiency makes us? Tribal people have an understanding of this kind of dependence, but do we?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Automobile Woes part II

So it has been about a week since the incident. I am alive and well, but currently my car is not. According to my mechanic friend, it is looking bad. Apparently, the 2000 model of the Dodge Intrepid, and especially the Canadian model (which I own), is known to have a common problem of engine failure at around 100,000 miles. My car had 107,000 miles on it, so I guess I was on borrowed time. As a result of the commonality of this problem, the market for engines is a seller's market. They are very expensive, and used engines have a good chance of failure at around 100,000 miles too.

Right now, I am thinking that I am going to take some time and enjoy public transit. When all of the students come back to morgantown, cars become problematic. Traffic is highly congested. I went to the bus depot yesterday, and found out that the bus goes virtually everywhere I would need to go in town. For now, I am going to be without a car--from what I have gathered (and the impulse I too have felt), many people rush into buying a new car when their car dies. For the next month, my work necessitates me being around Morgantown, so there isn't a real need for a car. I have a bicycle. Cycling is better for my own health, and the good earth God has given us. Public transit also offers a similar degree of environmental stewardship.

One thing I am impressed by in Europe is that not many people have cars. Amsterdam is called the city of bicycles--900,000 people and 500,000 bicycles call the city home. For now, I will do without. I will carpool, and chip in for gas or trade meals for wheels or something like that. If i really need a car, I believe God can come through with just exactly what I need, so i am going to wait, research, get council, and trust God and His provision and guidance.

Last summer when I let one of my friends borrow my car for six weeks while in Orlando, I realized something that made me a little uncomfortable. I was addicted to my car. I could leave and go anywhere any time I wanted when I had it. Without it, I lost my mobility. I had to be dependent on other people. Maybe we could all learn to be a little more dependent on one another. Maybe we need to experience a little bit of helplessness to understand our true state of dependence.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bead 4 Life

Bead 4 Life, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Yesterday, after h2o, we had a bead for life party at the Waterhouse. This is similar to a tupperware party with beads. The beads are hand-rolled in Uganda by women who have been victimized by the evils of civil war in that country. Many were raped as children, and have contracted hiv. Others have had their children abducted to serve in secret militias. Several have lost much of their family through the war.

So yesterday I sported some beads, bought some beads, and gave away a lot. If you get the chance, you should check out their website.

Not Quite Home

Not Quite Home, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
As I walked along the boardwalk in Wilmington, NC along the Cape Fear River, I felt like I was back home in Parkersburg for a bit. Maybe it is the combination of bridge and sternwheeler that does it.

I imagine anyone who has grown up along a major river town sees this as a familiar image. Once, all of the major waterways of the US were covered with these sternwheelers. But now, they are an icon of the past used mainly for touring.

My senior prom was on a sternwheeler. So was my class reunion. We used to take rides to blennerhassett Island on them when I was a kid. I imagine anyone who sees an image like this gets taken back to adventures along the river, and being a pirate, or a sailor, or some other such hero or villain of yesteryear.

Feel free to post a memory you have of sternwheelers if you grew up in a rivertown like me.

Holy Water

Holy Water, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
When I took this picture, I didn't notice the sunbeam. I just thought it was a cool fountain in Wilmington, NC. It sits in front of the courthouse downtown.

Don't sunbeams seem like a special gift from God? I can remember seeing sunbeams in the summertime and feeling like it was like He was speaking and revealing Himself through the light.

For All You Smokers

For All You Smokers, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Every time I drive by this sign, I crack up. King and Tobaccoville are actually two different towns, but it looks like one place.

For a long time Tobacco was king in America. Particularly in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina and regions of Southwestern Virginia, the crop was grown.

Tobacco has lost its royal standing in America, but the sign still remains.

choke cherries

choke cherries, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I thought these cherries looked interesting, so I took a picture of them. At first I wasn't sure that I had accurately identified the choke cherry, but then I nibbled on one, much to the dismay of my friends who thought I might be poisoning myself.

I'm still alive, and the edible yet bitter taste of the choke cherry is just a memory now.

Sometimes life seems similar to a bowl of choke cherries--edible, but bitter.

How do you respond to those difficult times, do they make you bitter, or do you emanate a sweetness that overpowers the bitterness?

Ain't That America

Ain't That America, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
During my hike through Cathedral State Park with Morgan and Karen, we discovered this field and farm. Once again, I was captivated. It looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie, or some such thing, and just spoke to me about a different way of living. There aren't any Superstores near this house, and no sign of major corporations. Just fields and forests to be seen all around. Caring for a piece of land like this takes a lot of time and energy. I think most of us would be crushed under the weight of the responsibility.

At the same time, looking at this pastoral scene points me to a way of living that stands much less complicated in comparison to the rat race kind of life most of us get caught up in. This is a different side of america than we read in neon and on billboards, and it is a refreshing perspective.

Couldn't we all use a bit of simplicity in our lives?

Rhododendron Bloom

Rhododendron Bloom, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I went for a hike through Cathedral State Park last Sunday and saw this beautiful bloom. I am still trying to figure out how the macro works on my camera, but this seemed to come out really well.

The Rhododendron is the state flower of West Virginia, and gives a great dose of appalachian beauty.

Where do you find beauty in your world?

The Navajo have an interesting prayer about beauty called the beauty way prayer. I think it is a good reminder to both see beauty and be beauty. Enjoy it

In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Burning Down the House

Burning Down the House, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
If you lived here, your house would be burnt down.

It's been pretty weird being in Morgantown this summer. All summer, I have been watching houses burn down. The area known as the loop at the bottom of falling run road has been quickly becoming transformed. It is really strange.

You know, we are in such a hurry to build new spaces, we don't really even salvage anything. We just burn it all up. Doesn't this seem a bit wasteful. it's like, if we had the time, or would just take the time, we could be providing for other people with some of the building materials in these old houses. Instead, they are reduced to rubble in a matter of minutes.

And then, just being in Morgantown this summer, it is pretty wild to see how much the area has been transformed in just the last two months.

New restaurants and businesses have emerged, and now homes are disappearing. I guess this is what progress looks like . . .

Monday, July 17, 2006

automobile woes

Saturday night I drove my car up route 40 from uniontown to farmington. That's a tough climb for any car, but especially a car like mine that is getting up there in mileage. Well, the strain proved too much. It didn't make it. I had to leave it on the side of the road. Thankfully some really nice people offered to take me to my friend Nic's parents house in Connellsville. Nic and his wife Tara gave me a ride to morgantown the next morning. God took care of me, and I am very thankful.

In the meantime, I have a little problem. The engine, she don't sound too good. I had to get the car towed from Farmington, PA to Fairmont, WV. My friend Bryan is looking at it right now, and the prospects are dismal. So I am asking myself a few questions.

How badly do I need a car?

Do I repair the car or look for a new one?

In terms of new ones, do I get one that is really new, or just new to me?

Should I look into a pilot's license instead?

This car has served me well. It got good gas mileage--30mpg on the highway.

any thoughts?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pirates the second time around

I went to see the movie again with my buddies ryan and ryan, and my newly made friend E-bo. It was fascinating. I watched the original movie two nights ago, so many images were still fresh in my mind. After watching this one a second time I saw a number of themes and bits of foreshadowing that I missed the first time around. It's funny because many viewers miss all of the signs that point to something a little deeper than the surface of the story.

I am not going to share those with you though--go see the movie yourself! I am anxiously awaiting the third episode though.

Isn't it interesting that we have a little foreshadowing in our lives too? I mean, we get to experience beauty and community here and now. But we don't experience them fully. We get to experience awe and wonder right now, but just as an echo. But the foreshadowing in our story points to something even more epic than we could imagine.

Are you looking at the foreshadowing of what is to come in eager anticipation, or are you missing out on all the signs and living along the surface of the most compelling and deep story ever written?

Monday, July 10, 2006


Fire, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, i don't have a chimineya anymore thanks to somebody driving through my yard and destroying it. So, in order to burn anything I have to wait until 4PM and burn it on the open ground.

So this fire is the reduction of a bunch of prunings. The branches were gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. They were dead. Lifeless. They were not bearing fruit.

My yard looks somewhat transformed. Probably nobody would notice other than me, but the fact that I notice means something. It means that all of that hard work has some tangible result.

When our branches don't bear fruit, they are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. I don't like the thought of anything I do being burned up. I don't like the thought that there are things in my life that need pruning. I don't like the thought that I have decaying, dead, and rotting branches.

But at the same time, it is good to have someone go through and remove them. Are there branches in your life God needs to prepare for fire. Will you submit to the gardener and let Him do the difficult but necessary work?


Pruning, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
So yesterday at h2o we were talking about the place in the gospels where Jesus says He is the true vine. I got a little convicted by the whole idea of pruning, because I really need to prune all of the trees at my house. So today I started working on it.

I cut my grass, and then started pruning a couple of trees. I started by cutting some low branches out of an oak tree, and then I proceeded to work on a hawthorne tree. They have two to three inch thorns that stick out of the branches. One ran through my shoe and about a quarter inch into my foot. I have two huge piles of brush from the day's work. And I have lots more to do. But for now, I have made some progress. I think I am going to pile the wood up into a heap and burn it tonight.

Whatever does not bear fruit is cut off and thrown into the fire. So I am going to toss this stuff into a fire.

The Hawthorne tree is looking pretty cool. Actually, my yard looks really cool as a result of the work. But there is lot's more to go.

Isn't that the way life is--just when you think you are catching up, more comes along!

Is there anything in your life that needs pruned right now?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean

Last night I saw the debut of the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Don't worry, I am not planning on giving any spoilers. The movie had some interesting themes though, including some very overt references to Christianity. It seemed like the dominant theme had a lot to do with character, and how circumstances and life experience can affect character. Unexpected heroes and villains emerge throughout the film, and the whole time one can't help but get immersed in the story. Aren't we in a story similar to this one. Heroes and villains pop up in unexpected places. If we aren't careful, circumstances can transform our normal way of living and doing things. Heroes can become touched with moments of villainy and villains can become heroic. All along I think the goal is to be proactive in living out our own story as heroes, and we can only do that if we enter into the larger heroic story of God.

Anyhoo, the film was beautiful, and the local theater ended up selling out two theaters for midnight showings. I think it is going to do quite well at the box office. If you are able, i recommend seeing this movie. The ending is so cool, it . . .

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Morning in Minnesota

Morning in Minnesota, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, after all of this time together we have no pictures of fish, and no pictures of the three of us together—until the morning of my departure. We were truly fortunate to be able to spend the last few days together. We made memories, we shared stories, and although physically fatigued, I would like to think that we refreshed each other’s spirits. I know that my spirit was refreshed by the time I spent with my friends Liz and Steve Powell in the Northern Wilderness.

Looking Out the Backdoor

Looking Out the Backdoor, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Would you look at that yard? Pay no attention to the first fence; it is just for the dog. Waaaaaaay back is the end of Steve and Liz’s yard. They have a fire-pit back there, and as luxurious as that lawn (and garden) are. Don’t be fooled. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and the land of 10,000,000,000 mosquitoes. If you don’t spray down with off, you will be eaten alive. As the sun goes down, they come out to feed. They aren’t so bothersome on large bodies of water, but as one approaches the bank, they begin to examine humans as fresh meat.

There is a lot that can be learned from a mosquito. They are pretty powerful creatures. Although tiny, they can drive a human being out of an area and they seem to exert their influence in such a way that people have little choice but to wear repellent, or become a victim of their dominion.

I am so glad we don’t see so many mosquitoes in the hills of Morgantown.

Last Day O' Fishing

Last Day O' Fishing, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Windburnt, Fatigued, and heading for a couple of last weedbeds to catch some Northern, our fishing experience finished July 3rd at around seven pm. Everybody had a turn at driving the boat, and we wrangled our way through rough waters all day as a storm was blowing in.

English River

English River, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This fine site became the location of our shorelunch. We cooked up six Walleye, potatoes and onions, all cooked in lard. It was delicious. We worked together to build a fire, prep, the food, and then we enjoyed a scrumptious meal of fresh fish. I love the sound of waterfalls. Liz caught our sixth fish out of those falls in a pool to the left in the picture. Other people caught snags—Liz caught fish.

Eagle in Flight

Eagle in Flight, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Unfortunately, my camera does not have the lens necessary to bring these eagles into sight. Eagle’s were commonplace along this lake. Although we didn’t see any moose, they are often seen along the rivers that feed into the lake.

The Eagle is a pretty majestic bird. It is also the totem of my tribal clan. It was amazing to watch one of these winged ones dive into the water with its talons outstretched to acquire a fish, and to see another carrying away some other small object (probably a squirrel) to it’s lofty nest.

There is something really special about the Eagle. It was definitely a treat to see eagle’s every day I was on the water. Lot’s of times people call every big bird in the sky an eagle, but Eagle’s are unmistakeable.

I remember hearing this quote once. “The eagle never lost so much time as when he stooped to learn from the crow.” It’s weird, as I meditate on that quote, I can’t help but think that there is much to learn from both for us. But that probably isn’t what the quote means at all.

Canadian Stone Wilderness

Canadian Stone Wilderness, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This is an image of the cove where our boat (Liz’s Grampa’s) was docked. This stand of evergreens is a remnant from the last timbering of the lake. The entire lake is stone. And yet, these trees grow thickly on top of the stone. I can only imagine what this place must have looked like before the lumber mills came in and turned these woods into paper.

Bearly Photographed

Bearly Photographed, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
There was a bear wandering around our camp. We caught it on film as we traveled down the highway. I really had to resist the temptation to get out to try to get a better photo. My mom would be so proud of me for not walking up to the bear as I might have felt compelled to do at other points in my life. I’m either getting smarter or more fearful (probably of what my mom would do to me—after the bear was done she would have her turn at knocking some sense into me haha).

Moth at Sioux Lookout

Moth at Sioux Lookout, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
As we were leaving the only store open in Sioux Lookout (July 1st is Canada’s Independence Day), Liz spotted this beautiful moth. I think I finally figured out how to use the macro function on my camera. The image on the wings looks like it is three dimensional. What a sight in the middle of this little Anishnabe Indian Town in the Canadian wilderness.

Sandy River

Sandy River, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This was the place I was introduced to fishing for Northern Pike. I didn’t fair so well in this little river, but the next day I caught Northern on what seemed like every third cast. They fight hard, and they have several rows of vicious teeth.

They aren’t supposed to be as delicious as the Walleye, so we focused on catching our limit of meal sized Walleye’s 13’’—15. Actually we had two great meals catching these Walleye’s. Liz’s brother, Luke Smith, should open a guide service. Nobody was catching fish, but he told us where we should go before we left for the lake. Everywhere he told us to go—we caught fish. Lot’s of fish.

This river is fed by a set of rapids that I tried to photograph. The land was impassable when I attempted to get a good shot of the rapids. The river was pleasant, none-the-less.

Moonlight Falls

Moonlight Falls, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
These beautiful falls trickle down a rock face into Minnitaki Lake. I am not sure about the directions, but I want to say that this point is Southwest of the place where we stayed. The Falls were beautiful, but the fishing at this little nook left a little to be desired on this day.

Even though the weather was horrible as we traveled into Canada, we had beautiful sunny weather for our fishing excursions. Canada was very different than I expected. Very stony, and the timber industry had really cleared off most of the old growth forests. In fact, any time I tried to hike on the land, I was met with thick growth that made the woods impassable without aid.

The view from the water was beautiful though. These falls were refreshing to hear and to see.

Pickerel Arm

Pickerel Arm, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
So I spent three days near Sioux Lookout, Canada (not a large town) fishing with Liz and Steve. We stayed in a small camper at Donnelly’s Minnitaki Lodge and this was the view as we left our boat docks to enter into the Pickerel Arm of Minnitaki Lake. It rained for several hours as we drove deep into the Canadian wilderness for this fishing excursion. The whole trip brought back beautiful memories of fishing with my dad, uncle, and cousins along the Ohio River and Mountwood Lake. We caught tons of Walleye and Northern Pike during our three day excursion. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any fish pictures, so you will have to take my word for it. Liz and Steve did manage to get my picture with one of the smallest Walleye’s of our excursion—I’m sure it will make an appearance somewhere in the future, but probably not here.

Mighty Mississippi

Mighty Mississippi, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Thursday Afternoon, Steve took me to visit Coon Rapids. This area is just a couple of miles from his home in Minnesota. Up here in the North Country the Mississippi River begins. Aside from the numerous islands to be seen, it was very reminiscent of the Ohio River where I grew up. To think, just a few miles down the river (quite a few), Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn had their many adventures on Jackson Island in the middle of the Great River M’shee Thee-pee in its Algonquin/Shawnee rendering.