To all those who have been itching for another Blog Walk post, your wait is finally over! Yes, that’s right, Milton and I made the 21 mile trek up to Blaine in continuation of our efforts to walk/bike/hike every road in Whatcom County. Today’s mission was to conquer our Blaine Quadrant 2 East map, which stretches from I-5 to Harvey road W-E and from Boblett to Sweet Road N-S.
I had high hopes as we left Bellingham. The day was clear and sunny. I imagined myself soaking in the rays while the soundtrack of Blaine’s country livestock lowed around me. About Birch Bay-Lynden Road, reality hit me. Actually, a cloud bank thick as soup hit me.
“Well, Milton,” I said, “we’ll just have to press on…and maybe reward ourselves with a mocha afterward.” There’s a little coffee shop downtown that I really love. It’s called the Blackberry House. I would walk through miles of soggy dirt to know that a mocha from the Blackberry was waiting at the other end.
So we started out. And little drops of dew starting clinging to my clothes, but that didn’t daunt our enthusiasm. Neither did the nagging sensation of having to pee or the gnawing hunger growing in my stomach after mile three rolled around. No matter. Milton was chipper as ever—that is until a cow appeared out of the mist right in front of him while a whole flock of previously unseen Canadian geese decided to bark orders above our heads.
His consolation came in finding a piece of old chicken on the side of the road, which he promptly gobbled up before I could yank him away.
About mile 4.5, I cursed the sun’s pathetic efforts to poke through the clouds and turned towards the car. But not before we completed the whole Quadrant 2 E map! That’s right people. We are on to a new Quadrant. More exciting adventures to come.
This is my fifth go around of the Bible. God stopped me short in I Samuel and said, “Listen, don’t you think you’ve done enough surveying? It’s time to dig deep.” So…I dug–right into the coronation of Saul.
Now, the challenge was: to be able to recite/retell the whole story of 1 Samuel up to the coronation of King David. I’ve been working on this for the past couple of days and getting as far as Jonathan and his armor bearer’s defeat of the Philistine garrison.
Then today, when preparing for my morning devotional, I decided to go aside from the Lord’s plan for my devotions and branch out of 1 Samuel.
The result: after using a random number generator to produce a random Biblical page location, punch in the numbers in my Kindle and go to the page, I end up in 1 Samuel. Guess where? The passage with Jonathan and the armor bearer.
The moral: just do what God says the first time and save yourself the trouble.
Yes, I admit it to myself. Despite an overwhelming desire for free self expression, I subject myself to be known, scrutinized, and even criticized by the “other”. In writing these posts I have asked myself, “would I care if these very words were read by no one but myself?” Denial (of course I would not care. How absurd! What do I care what other people think of my intellectual property), then acceptance: yes, I would care.
The human desire to be known goes deep. Even the most introverted of us cannot live in isolation. It drives us mad–suicidal even. But what lies behind this need? What drives it?
I have landed firmly upon the realization that Christ himself has nested this desire in our souls. From where else could it have come? The concept of “needing” community with another individual is counterintuitive, hazardous for survival, a dagger to the ego, pushes towards self sacrifice, and practically impossible. Humans cause us pain. They cause us deep psychological damage and years of counseling. They cause us to question the very nature of ourselves. And yet, we cannot live without them. Imagine how progressive we could be if we were unfeeling, driven robots, needing no approval except our own.
Is that really progressive?
The fabric of humanity is based on the undisputed fact that we need each other in order to advance. Plain and simple. I need you. You, whether you realize it or not, need me.
What was the human image before mirrors? How did we define ourselves– give meaning to our beauty and gratification to our instincts?
When you look in the mirror, what is it you see? Is it the ghost of yourself or an apparition of something long gone?
I cannot look into the mirror and see what you see when you look at me. I only see my projection, my image scintillate.
This image is so subjective. It does not tell truth, only partial truths. Like who you are and how you’ve come. Like what you want and how you’ll get it. Like imperfection. Like grace. Like divine imprinting.
When what is inside shines through the glass, will it break?
I was reminded today that words fall hard, weighed down by gravity; that if birds could speak, they would no longer fly. What does this mean to me on a rain streaked day? That unlike Chris, I have long deprived myself an outlet for thoughts themselves. What was so secretive, so discrete? I have no answer. Perhaps the words just didn’t come together until now.
So here I begin my own metaphysical journey–joining the millions of others whose thoughts float around in cyberspace like digital packing peanuts. Or perhaps there is some purpose for this after all, if not for my own gratification. So, let it begin.
Welcome back to Blaine. It’s day two on my quest to physically travel on every road in Whatcom County. Today’s mode of transportation: foot^2.
My mother was brave enough to join me through endless paths of Halloween- bedecked streets. The craziness of the concept must have intrigued her; although she claims it was “good exercise”. She is–after all–an avid lover of adventure and her fresh perspective did my project good.
So after some grilling she summed up her experience this way, “Blaine is still the back water town where people can walk in the middle of the road; like where I grew up.” Did I mention she grew up in 1960’s Bellingham? Three or four blocks from the YMCA, she could walk there as an elementary schooler for her swimming practice. Also, she could play with her brothers in the street near her house and wasn’t afraid to visit the neighbors. In fact she knew her neighbors (a rather rare concept today).
That sense of community is what she found in Blaine. Consider for example, that the High School is situated right next to the Middle School which is next to the Senior/Community Center and the Boys and Girl’s Club. Right down the street, passing nearly five churches on the way is the food and clothing bank. The city just breathes connectedness.
Like the kind of place where you can stop and look, and when you do, what you might see are turn-of-the-century houses surrounded by 80-year-old trees with brilliant fall colors. You might also see neighbors smiling as they pass each other on the street or dog walkers taking in the bay at Peace ArchPark. Where the man passing you on the street is not a potential rapist and children can walk to school. What more could you ask for in a city? Even the seagulls seem to find solace on the tops of every roof.
Granted, Blaine (as a border town) does have its share of gang and drug related violence, but I just simply didn’t see this in the lettered streets neighborhood.
I am proud to say that I will miss that area as I move on next week to the heart of Blaine’s historic downtown. So go ahead, take two or three moments in the lettered streets and join me next time.
Meine Auffassung dieser ländlichen Grenze Stadt hat sich heute verändert, als ich ihre neulich verstädterte Straßen durchquert. Blaine ist in der Nähe meines Heimats–eine Nachbarschaft, die meine kindische Ansicht viele große Ideen über die Eigenschaft dieser wirtschaftlich depressiven Stadt gewähren haben. Sie schien immer auf dem Rand des Zusammenbruchs zu sein, und noch irgendwie gestützt durch ihre Nähe zu unseren kanadischen Vettern. Natürlich entwickelte ich meine eigene Ansicht von den Leuten der Stadt und ihrem versicherten Mangel der populären Tätigkeiten. Ich hatte ja keine Ahnung, dass 10 Jahre später Blaine mich überraschen würde.
Ich trat nicht in einem Ödland des Hinterwäldlers, aber in einer attraktiven und bewährten Gemeinschaft ein. Während ich die Sackgassen der Stadt wanderte, wurde ich von der offenbaren Bewahrung der Kultur und Gastfreundschaft angefahren.
My perception of this rural border town changed today as I walked its only recently urbanized streets. Blaine is not far from the town in which I grew up–a proximity which afforded my childish mind many grand ideas about the nature of this economic nightmare of a city. It seemed always on the verge of collapse and yet somehow sustained by its close proximity to our Canadian cousins. Naturally I developed my own view of the people in the town and its assured lack of popular activity. Little did I know that 10 years later, Blaine would throw me one of its most unnatural surprises.
I entered what was not a hick-ish wasteland, but an attractive and well established community. While wandering the city’s cul-de-sacs, I was struck by the apparent preservation of culture and hospitality. Numerous houses were sporting Blaine High School colors while friendly neighbors chatted across white picket fences. Children were safely riding bikes along narrow streets and walking to and from the local schools. Many stopped to wave at each other upon passing.
I thought to myself that I would gladly like to return some day–if only just to view Blaine’s unparalleled Pacific harbor. And next time I am lazily waiting in line at the crossing which runs right through the town, I will offer a hat tip to this northern gem.