Thursday, May 31, 2007


Tonight we had two of the men involved in our program over for the first time for the fly-fishing part of our program, Tim Tewws and Ron Smith. They ate a meal with us while sharing their stories of fly-fishing, went through the basics of fly-fishing, and went through the full large scale spectrum of fly-fishing. Details included.

It was a big moment for me. Having two men care so deeply for the program, and wanting to be with the young men and invest in these guys for the summer.

My story with fly-fishing really began in Knoxville, TN with my friend Jonathan. We went multiple times to the small streams in the smokey mountains of Tennessee to catch fish. I had no clue how to fish, how to tie a line, a leader, or any clue where to cast, but we went. Hoping for a big one.

Looking back I see my ignorance, and my fear of asking the men at the fly shop, teaching, training, or words on how to catch a trout. I went looking for something, and I thought it was the trout. Looking back now, I can see I wanted so much more.
I can remember walking into the shop off Kingston Pike. A world I was afraid of. I had to look like I knew what I was doing. Although I felt like a boy in a man's world, I was too ashamed to walk in, and ask for help, and share my need. It was a world of men, and although I wanted to enter, I wasn't about to let the boyish parts of me out, and ask for help.

I love it for these young men, they are given men to teach them. Tim and Ron are incredibly gifted men, with a passion for fly-fishing, and are so eager to teach, and tell their stories, and show their pictures. We had a great night with them. All the guys were so eager to lean in, and learn, and ask questions.

Even after the night, they have yet to touch a fly rod, or put on a fly-vest, and cast a line, but that is the beauty of it. They are entering slowly, and through story, and at the hands of men. Little by little. We will get out on the river, and they by God's grace, will bag some fish, but that is not the point. At least not for now. It is to learn the natural way. Not by googling fly-fishing, or finding the right fly at the store, but by sitting at the hands of men, and learning, and listening, and progressing to the next stage.

There were some tears tonight, lots of gratitude, and comments by the young men of how they cannot believe these guys want to teach them. A part of fathering, of men wanting to offer, their passion, and guide them. It has taken them by suprise. We are not used to it in this world.

It is about fly-fishing, and catching trout. But there is so much more. As Ron said, "it is when I have a trout in my hand, and he is settled, and I am all alone in the river, that I experience Jesus."

This is really the greatest gift in the world, to experience this with the guys and walk them into it. And I cannot wait to see them on the river, with fly-rods in their hand, with flies they tie on their own, and with a fish on their line.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sweat and Blood. Part 1 of a few

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." Sir Winston Churchill

We have had a few adventures now. Mostly in the wilderness on our backpacking trip, but have since taken the mountain bikes out, and what I find is the common theme of all of it is sweat, and especially blood.

The first aid kit has been already unwrapped, and used.

I found myself on the mountain bike ride yesterday shouting, "I want you to bleed." And then asking, that is quite an odd statement to make. Sure, William Wallace rallying his troops in war, so I am left to ponder... why did I say this? And why might I say it again? And even odder, why did the young men seem to respond so well?

This comes while entering the world of questions that potential parents are asking about our program. Mostly from moms. We have had many requests for more information. Good questions, and honorable ones. And for the most part, they have come at the hands of moms, and their concerns. Can you blame them? This is not something that is tested out, and fully understood.

But what I want to share in the most honest, and good way, and convey to them is, "we want your son to bleed."

Ok, so, I need to explain myself, and I hope to in some way in a few blogs to come.

I will not attempt to argue this right now, but offer more fuel for this conversation.
This has come as today, as part of the chalice ministry of our church. I was offering the cup to our congregation during communion for the body at our church, and saying to each member as they came, "this is the blood of Jesus, shed for you."

The theme keeps rising, blood. And blood. But what does the blood of Jesus really mean? And can we understand the metaphor, unless we have fully experienced it? We need to be reminded of the blood of Jesus, and as men, I believe our own. Especially to understand His.
It came up in conversation from our small group tonight.

One of the quotes for our time, "when you bleed, you feel that you are alive."

One of the young men a few nights back climbed some cliffs, and on his way down, had cuts and scrapes from his hands to his legs, as we called him to hurry down, so that he would not be late to meet Sister Therese, his comment was, "have the bandages ready...and waiting on me when I arrive" And then he called back and said... "and the camera."

The fascination... blood. Their own blood. And for this one young man, it was as one of the guys intepreted the experience, "your first taste of being bloodied."

Their own blood. And I cannot help to see there is something much deeper in it. And as one young man said, "this bleeding... it is good."

I have a lot of explaining to do, I know.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Our grandmother.

Tonight, we were given a sweet gift. Sister Therese, a catholic nun of the St. Benedectine came over for a spaghetti meal, and teaching. She will be taking the guys through silent/contemplative prayer during this summer once a week.

She has been a teacher to me in this way of prayer that God had led me too a few years ago.

I have come to love her, and respect both her walk with Christ, and how she has helped me see another side of the catholic faith. For most, it seems easy to write catholics off, for various doctrinal differences, but to sit with her, and to hear her wisdom, and her words of life, and scripture, are quite life changing, and eye opening. And I saw that happening with the young men.

It is late, and I am quite tired, so I must be brief, but at the end of our time, she looked at the young men, and admitted she was quite nervous about coming over to spend time with the young men. She explained how usually young people do not take very well to these concepts of sitting in silence, and her teaching. Her vulnerability was a gift. And yet, to see their hungry hearts, turned into her words, and their questions throughout the night, I knew that message had been broken for her seeing the guys, and their desire to sit and commune with Christ through this method, and her teaching.

One of the young men spoke up and thanked her desire to come, and how she is in many ways a grandmother, and especially in the spiritual realm. It was quite a moment. For me, to see the two generations coming together. I keep seeing how the givers of the gift, seem to be the ones receiving more, than the ones supposedly receiving it.

She mentioned that she had told the sisters at Benet Hill what she was doing. And how eager they were about it.

It reminds me again, of the tragedy of this generation. We have somehow forgotten the elders, and those who have gone before us. Including many of the traditions of the church. We have thrown off everything for the new. And as I sat between the world of the young men, and of this beloved women, "grandma," and all that she symbolized, with her faith, her age, and her life, I just felt the gap had been shortened for a moment.

And something was passed between the two. I am excited for more. And to sit, and be still, and receive, from grandma, and from God.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Deadliest Catch, interpreting work.

It is the first day for the guys to enter into the working world. "The world of men." Broken men, fallen men, strong men, fearful men, real men, and the men you would find if you walk out your door, and step into any office, construction site throughout this country.

Many people for the past few months have offered jobs with good men, christian community, and fellowship at work, but Cory and I have turned them down.

It seems that to become a man. We must be tested. We must feel the weight of the world around us, the brokeness, pain, and truth of the world we live in. It seems for most of us, we never step into that world, and for many it is because we are never given the opportunity. Whether it be sheltering, the hands of a nurturing society, or our culture of success, and happy smiles, keeping us away.

For most, we do not know it is down, and stepping into the pain, the hurt, especially our own (fears and struggle), that Jesus takes us to find ourselves.

After Adam falls, God curses work for man. He does not curse work for a woman. It is specific to the gender of the male. It is not hard to see the result. The pain, toil, and strife that we must enter. But I cannot believe that the end result was just pain, and blood. It would only seem that in this curse, and in this work, something of who we are, and what we need from God, and from others comes. And was his reason for the curse, to bring us to Him.

But we are an entitled generation, and rarely are we given opportunities to face these testings. We believe the end goal is college, lots of money, and a way to stay away from this sweat and toil. But if we are honest, it is in that place we must go, and where these brave young souls are entering into for the next 10 weeks, to discover themselves, and their God, and initiation into who they are as men.

These young men bravely stepped into their first day of work, and around men, and brokeness, and hardship. The stories have already begun as they stepped back into the cabin this evening.

We believe for this time to be productive, they need interpretation of what is happening. Without people there to speak of what they are encountering, and not knowing what God is doing, it can often feel unkind. And unfruitful.

We have been watching the series Deadliest Catch during the evening. We want to show the guys, the world of men, and help them see, and be able to interpet what is happening with the men around them. The show is a world of men, in a physically demanding job. The deadliest job in the world.

We have been closely watching the "greenhorns" on the ships, and how they men treat them, initiate, play pranks, and push them. It seems to be a close image and picture of where they are. Although we are stopping, and helping to interpret what is happening, they are already picking up, and discerning themselves, what is happening.

I am so proud of these young men, and I cannot wait to hear the stories of what is to come, and what God will do with them at work. I have no doubt there will be tears, and hardship, and pain for them, but it is my believe God will initiate them in this process, and bring them to a new place.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The beginning.

The only words I can write are, I am so proud of these young men, and I am honored to have these next 12 weeks to see what God has for us. I laughed as one spoke, "I am not really sure why I am here, or even what this program really is... I just knew God was calling me."

It is our heart, that He will show all of us what this is about.