A DIFFERENT BOOK

thoughts paintings pictures and musings

CONTEXT AND BEARINGS

Inhabitants of this city talk a lot about this place - it can often consume the conversations. It can seem at moments VERY self involved. And for someone who is inclined to judgement I have viewed the talk as such for a while now - growing sick and disgusted by the world within a world mentality and the conversation’s particular bends.

But the truth is to make it here you have to be fully invested here - which is its own unique challenge to do. And the simple truth is we’re all still figuring that out - we are all gathering our bearings and trying to remain in the game and we all need to talk about it. And that’s healthy and that’s okay.

I have said in my heart lately that we are all fools - trying to do what we are doing here - trying to make it here. Defeated if I am honest. Wondering how on earth can one establish something sustainable in a city that is not sustainable for living long term and at the growing price point!

But personally - and honestly the decision to stay or to come here was never up to me - it was a calling - just like to do what I am doing in architecture here. And although I am momentarily defeated and often can’t feel it - there’s still a fight within me to remain even though every inclination of my mind and the logic and knowledge I have become so intimately acquainted with tells me its foolish to do so.

And perhaps in this there is a moment that we are all called to - to surrender our wills agendas and plans and ways of seeing things and simply say that what we do is only empowered by the Spirit of God who comforts and sustains. Who broods over the dark waters of this city waiting to give creation and light to it and meet it where its at with the message of Jesus.

I guess as so It’s fitting then that at first light I often talk with my friend about such things- early morning half awake conversations about lifestyle / standards of living and what exactly it looks like for our futures under God’s will and way in this place. Because there He meets us trying to give strength to the feeble in combat with a brother combat to the american ideals and idols that have inserted themselves into this place but do not belong in its context - saying that we should have whatever we want with the insane capitalist notions that we have brought in with us to this city.

I read acts 17 this week. I read of paul’s heart stirred in Athens with no one beside him - I see my own heart. I read his address - his bold address. And then I see him leave sooner than other places. I wonder how intoxicating - how blinding are these things our city does just like Athens. I wonder how few will come and be brought into the house of God. The city of light.

I reflect on my own heart. My own notions of success and failure in a place this this. My own lack of ability to speak to those inside and outside that light and I feel it in my heart just like Paul. But instead of the bold address I stand speechless with more hurt and confusion because unlike Paul God says stay.

I read recently of the white man’s bend toward colonization. I see it in movies. I see it in those whom I grew up with and stand alongside. I see it within myself. And I’m trying to be very careful that that colonization mindset does not insert itself into God’s saving redeeming power and is not corrupted somehow by my own sin. But I see it is- and I wonder about my ambition about my giftings and what that means about how I fit in and how I am still gathering my bearings and I question is it my own sin nature and delusions of grandeur and I get stuck.

And If I am truthful I tell you that my heart has never been more unsure about any of the many questions I’m asking and what exactly I am supposed to do with them besides remain and be faithful to what is put before me. And although at moments the conversations are word vomit and the conversation may bend toward what Elise calls “the two year itch” - concerned I may be a little more self destructive than most know - its not.This is different - a different type of undoing because of these bends the Father crafted into my mind. More subtle and more magnificent than just a move - like when I change the floor plan to give the client a new way of looking at their space. A better way.

Many say that journaling helps. It has. I’ve written more than I have in a long long time this winter- giving voice to ones thoughts is therapeutic and healing. Because somehow although I feel alone in my awareness of reality - defeated at moments when I journal I feel I am not alone - because God is in them. I see Him. He’s there.

There are particular bends to my personality that need dark rooms and time in quiet and by myself to understand the twists and turns. Often God is there. The not often when I don’t choose to see Him.

When it’s hard to get your bearings you begin to hate the questions that gave you the context to answer the questions in the first place - When I’m alone and catch that breath which is fewer and far between as I grow older it helps - coming to this page now filled with words it helps. Because there is space for me to speak - time for the moments and thoughts in between - because at many moments I really don’t know how I am. And that’s the truth for a long while now- but its okay cause it means I have a longer plan in “The Man” in motion.

And in all this I realize I am young still developing my bearings and still have many years to go and growth in discerning the Spirits promptings and views. I am not in a bad place. I am actively choosing not to belive lies and give into self consumed pits of pity and despair - the direction is upwards in what i put my mind heart and will to.

And I don’t think my life is solely about the money. Which may come off as a strange insertion here but I worry about that in a place like this. In a city of many idols. And I don’t think its about a lot of the other things that would give reason for concern.

This city can wear on you. Especially with the forces at work upon it. God is still faithful. That much will never change. But we still feel - whether that be the hurt or whether we still feel the pain and we watch helplessly from the sidelines because we don’t know how to engage it. At least I do. But we are stepping into His power and where the Spirit is and in that there is still much reason to hope…we will find our bearings and our contexts.

… here is where your proud waves halt.  -Job 38

… here is where your proud waves halt. -Job 38

The shadow and the Reflection

In not developing a career and real life anywhere else besides NYC I sometimes forget that the difficulties that come with this city and that are inherent in developing your career and life in this particular place are in many ways unique.

I can be prone to play the victim listing my many grievances as if my lot be any different from others who grapple with such things here or perhaps elsewhere- but to simply list the difficulties and give them names and faces is no longer satisfying my need nor have I found it recently to be beneficial but for relating to others on some small dissatisfying level.

The truth is - if I am called to this place and God Is shaping in storms that are in some ways awe inspiring and induce my wonder rather than the calm seas- providence for me in a place where it would seem impossible to be who I know myself to be or think I am - logically why would I linger - but He keeps saying stay.

I could certainly end the sentiment there but the truth is I have begun to entertain thoughts feeling and words that are still forming. That I find are helping the introvert relate help besides simply the shit throwing and the listing. That are showing me His provision continued . His goodness and his gospel in the chaotic places I dwell and make my home.

I sometimes forgot about the importance of understanding the culture you are a part of and how crucial that is to understanding and impacting. I forget in my ideals and romantic musings you have to be inside or present to shape something.

I have failed to be inquisitive about many things lately especially that culture I live in being many . Most grieving others as of late. I guess this is my public confession as best as an introvert can do. I have stopped offering excuses. It is as it is. I am defeating in my dissatisfaction. Rather than seeing his provision and my duty.

Being removed lately I have grieved over what I see within myself and within others - the love of wealth, the love of self, and the unwillingness to be extended or extend help. Not knowing the words to say that draw out the depths that are inside each one of us.

I have said I must know myself better. Must take more time to be still. Take the rest I think is required for sanity of my mind and health of body.

But where others might build upon their Christian upbringing of works based righteousness and require a pull back I push back and say no and yes removing context and call. My God says go to your end. Enter the mess. Live In the chaos. Yet I say I am unwilling to do. Yet it is an end to my grief and a point of rebellion of that which I am called to.

This city - at it’s very nature has pushed me near 8 million bright lights gravitational forces all located within one small island. At moments I am redirected by their force their power and their brilliance. And in it I forget the true light the true power and the true gravity and direction I am to chart my craft toward. That being Jesus.

I lose sight of the simple truth we are not the hero- we are merely dust and a small part of his workings. We are not Jesus. We are his sons and daughters. I forget this in the self satisfying city I love and am choosing to make my home in. The city that works me to my ends and draws out every last ounce of effort that I can muster. A city that has made me mentally ill at moments. But I must ask this - why would I need a savior need Jesus if I wasn’t choosing to be in a place that made me need him that drew every thing I had out of me until their was nothing left but Jesus.

In honest word it feels wrong at moments to be pursuing what is worldly that is business career making a name for oneself but this career this architectural profession has always been a refining tool. A creative force and tool for use by my God.

When I seek out His face which is brought about by this city’s desperation and my silence and is much more frequent lately than at other simpler times. His voice says stay. He says see what I have at the end of yourself.

The true Christian life is always worked out in strange fashions in a very chaotic complex and strange world that God loves and desires desperately to enter. This has always been the case.

I cannot say which way the world will turn- but I know enough about history to see its patterns and enough about my own to understand the foolishness of this man. But what I know is that I am here still and am scared to death at the prospects this city holds for someone as foolish as me. I shall not run until he says go and I will linger and I shall grapple with my end. My shadow. His reflection.

…cause there’s more to be captured than just an instagram square. @ Montauk NY

…cause there’s more to be captured than just an instagram square. @ Montauk NY

Where we are

I write often about the difficulty of writing - those first words , the effort to pen against laws of the universe and friction . About the difficulty to soar and attempt to be blameless in this medium. To not write so abstractly that it is of no profit - and yet not be so specific that is enough to betray the people and names who have taught the lessons that find themselves penned here.

In the past, I have erred and offended in both ways : The difficulty of our interconnected world - where one cannot be careful enough to know where these things will go or what they will grow into.

I can so often sulk in those realities and the reality of our world when I come to write. Especially lately. Trying to trace every outline and every thought - getting so easily overwhelmed by complexity and subtlety that I can no longer convey , no longer gather thoughts and put into action. Hopeless in my hyperbole.

Too careful in my dictation.


And in my self induced writer’s block it becomes as if this mysterious “IT” is that which I seek. But “IT” will probably take longer to find than I would imagine. Laid on a foundation of my time spent in the word, meditation upon it, mind soaked in it. Life lived in the world and all it’s realities not running from it.

But one thing I have found peace and assurance in is that I know I am not alone - just perhaps more articulate than most in spelling out what we are after - those like me - we have not come into “it” yet and the words will come when they are ready - when we can speak from what we know not what we assume or hardly understand.

And so it is with prayer, considering the needs of others, mind soaked in the drum circle of the Father’s heart beat. Navigating the complexity, subtlety and listening to the Spirit. Time and patience given to Love to see what is to be beheld.

Paid and gifted to be aware of the micro and macro - I am all too aware of the mere subtleties - and that with “IT” comes a overwhelming territory of sight. Where people are at, where they are going. It leaves me feeling overwhelmed at those things I have been given - to be stewarded well over.

We and I ignore this and we numb it - we distract ourselves from it. Because when we sit in it - it simply is too much to bare too much to fight against. In this many things are put into perspective.

Being logical in all my premises and with the territory of seeing subtlety better than most one would find it surprising that I have a judgmental side that is at bay knowing the commonality of our realities yet knowing all to much about distinction- I often in my mind and sobriety come to the truth that to be where we are at is okay.

A great force I find myself up against lately this sobriety that realizes one is incapable of doing completely and we need something other to be in our midst. One selah of my life as psalm.

Yet even still- the difficulty and struggle is worth the effort - to understand better our world and its way . And in this there is simple truth that I have come to realize lately that all things good and true and worth the effort take great force to do in life, in relationship, in conversation, in word - in every facet of being and they do not come but as a gift.

And to seek after “IT” whatever “IT” is will pave a path and will be worth the lonely endeavor and the grappling with words as I do today.

Less than : Rewinding on a Saturday.

Less than : Rewinding on a Saturday.

Some days more than others I feel the weight of creating in the chaos and storm that is our world .I am reminded today that #growth is a slow small and mighty process. Thank God we are not where we were. Thank God that he is bringing us through where we are. And thank God that the world will be renewed from its chaos and storm.

Some days more than others I feel the weight of creating in the chaos and storm that is our world .I am reminded today that #growth is a slow small and mighty process. Thank God we are not where we were. Thank God that he is bringing us through where we are. And thank God that the world will be renewed from its chaos and storm.

To Winter and the Snowflakes

Winter has always been a time of introspection for me. 

This time in the year comes often with a muddle of questions that have been spinning for a lifetime and the year - lingering - like snowflakes in a flurry of wind - never finding never gathering just telling of wind and of movements of change. A strange and beautiful sight. 

The wind will howl and scream as do my thoughts in this time and season - it is not pleasant yet somehow the white and glittery dust will eventually come to settle . And I am somehow grateful for the snow and wind winter and snowflakes- or I would fear its yearly bringing of cold. 

But for now the swirl is not settled - and I shall trudge will boot and scarf and hood as they move upward- reverse rain of chilled intricacies. Like threads of thought pulled from my head. The silver thread of age upon bowed head and shivering body - the weight of mind the responsibilities crowned upon my head.

These thoughts - once whispers now screams banchees and bullies - to my ears to my head- they remind me to feel - they ask me questions that remind me to look up at night and see the clearing - a million glittering stars above and be reminded of the giver of simple gifts like these above and below that move and will in time be no more. 

I am lost in images-  in moments- transfixed- a poetry formed someplace in my mind someplace in my heart : And so it is- the wind and the snow that swirls in my glass box in the sky.And when the white and the silence comes. The blank white landscape shall settle into hills. The canvas shall be won. 

A home begins life as a blank canvas of walls ceilings and floors, room upon room of precise measure, angles and architraves, plaster, brick, wood and glass.

Beautifully rendered surfaces effortlessly hide the strength of the solid foundation within and yet home is more than a design of rooms and things. Home becomes the unacknowledged witness to the raggedness of our living breathing humanity.

These floors know the first tentative steps of infancy, the stampede of children’s play, the collapse of a grief racked body failing utterly.

Doors that observe good night kisses are the same that are slammed in fits of rage. Dark corners watch frustrated tears, hear desperate prayers.

A home endures much as it’s inheritance sculpt it with their living. As life’s journey unravels a home is shaped. With human lives clutched close to heart, a home speaks a terrible and beautiful tale of humanities journey from and to home.

This home speaks of us.

A home is not merely a structure of wood, brick, stone and steel. A home speaks, its voice reflecting the terms of our occupation, reminding us of what we deem most important.

This world boasts its carnival of architecture, something for everyone and everything no matter the cost. Oppressive skylines crush the soul, hope struggling to breathe under the weight.  Passion wains as the opulent man trades concern for apathy.

Our surroundings influence our thoughts more than we care to admit, shaping our identity, altering our perception of truth. Prone to wonder, the human heart is easily lead from its intended home to a lifeless counterfeit.

Presented with such choice, how then should one build? And to what pattern remain true?

Ever planning, the architects design is hidden to eyes that do not see, regardless this architectural portrays vividly who we might ideally be. Patterns, strength, intricate, unexpected.

How then to build with the majesty of a city on a hill and the humility of a swallows nest? A building poetic in its understated simplicity.

A home created to train hands for service, guiding hearts towards others.

A lamplight burning bright, a door open to those yet unknown.

Regret burns, the realisation of this great divorce made manifest. With heart bruised and hope fading, home is remembered once more.

Rebellion surrenders to remorse, repentance, and footsteps turn homeward. Eyes weary, hesitant.

Familiar recollections of home dimmed by the journey away are recalled.  Glimpses of what once was and could be again.

In this place we are known, and we know it. This place of origin where we are allowed to simply be.

Every agenda surrendered to the will of the architect, every piece finds its appointed place. A single floor board with its individual grain and knots is not diminished when joined to the carpenters geometry.

Fixed in formation with iron nails, the single voice becomes a choir.

Steel tempered in the furnace graciously bends to a higher function. Vision giving strength its purpose.

Structured frames lend their support to others and together a home for the wondering prodigal is built. Freedom for many found in holy submission.

Some come with boldness and urgency sensing their inherited place. Others stoop on bended knee scarcely believing the invitation. Some bare wounds and enter with hesitant faltering hope. But it is the coming home that matters most.

This same final step shared by all. Acceptance is found within. Undeserved and scandalous favour.

It is in the dialog with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value and it is through great pain and sacrifice that this home is fashioned.

The table is set. The places long ago prepared are finally filled. Words always no, finally understood.

Returned prodigals from a disappointing land look around their former home and remember who they really are. Wondering hearts have come home to be free.

(Source: vimeo.com)

Don`t tell me of tomorrow ;

Give me the man who `ll say ,

that when a good deed`s to be done ,

"let`s do the deed today …….."

We may all commands the present ,

If we act and never wait ,

but repentance is the phantom

Of a past that comes too late !

Don`t tell me of tomorrow

there is much to do today ,

that can never be accomplished ,

if we throw the hours away ,

Every moment has its duty ,

who the future can foretell ?

Then why put off till tomorrow

what today can do as well ?

Don`t tell me of tomorrow ,

why i wait for tomorrow ,

i will do my work today ,

there is much to do today .

Reflections on a Sunday

It’s been hard lately to have enough emotional maturity to sit down and process through much of anything. Life has demanded a great deal lately. 

As a man I think it can easily become the mode of operation for us to shuffle everything under the rug rather than deal with what we are feeling or what is really going on inside of us. Just move on rather than processing through things. 

But those things will catch up with us in time. I know this all too well…And no matter what we choose to name them or how we numb our emotions - these things should not be ignored. 

As I sit down today in the midst of my whole life over these past few months shifting into something new, I come to simply one thing. That the business and busyness of my life these days is requiring a lot more of me than I can offer. 

And although this is a selfish musing…I think somewhere along the journey I think we all come to this realization - that life is exhausting and in so many ways overwhelming. And maybe if you are like me you wonder some days if you’ll make it to the next - to meet the next set of challenges that arises. 

It is in these moments if I’m honest I’ve seen a need to in some way completely fall apart but find myself unable. The habits I’ve formed in my heart and my mind are binding. 

And maybe like me - you realize that the methods you’ve used in the past aren’t going to cut it in the new weight of the world and its frantic pace - because with new must come a lot of new. Whether that be lessons or learning-  we can’t rely on the past to fill our present need or meet our present challenges and inner demons. We have to learn to care for ourselves - to let others in. To let our inability fuel our prayers, declare our need, entice our asking. 

In this realization and the conversations I’ve had and heard from the older and wiser we all grow in our ability to handle more and more as life tends to throw us more and more throughout the years. And although true - it has yet to provide solice for me as some days I wonder if I will make it to the next day. 

Ultimately we all have our own problems- this I see so clearly. We will have our own overwhelming days. This should not be a point of great sorrow. But so often the silliest things seem to break me and break those who are enduring or facing such things -  In this I’ve seen if we were ever to meet the challenge before us we have to tackle it one thing at time and give grace. We have to take baby steps and rejoice in progress and forget about perfection. 

I have a tendancy to retreat within myself. That type of fetal position, depression, that can lay wayste to my mind and my emotions. Even more so if I find myself in mourning and find myself in that fourth stage of grief. 

Every once in a while I tend to have an existential crisis. The matter of the essentials and the non-essentials and their existence( life or death) is put on trial - to be deliberated on before a jury of my own making. It has been during these times I use to be able to retreat within myself, hibernate for months on end. But now I can’t. 

The natural progression of my life and thoughts thus far has been to call into question purpose and how I devote my time and has served largely within myself to keep my life pointed intentional and guided. And It is in these crisis’ that I find the roots of my intentions. Because in truth the moments are not to dissimilar from Job’s moment with the whirlwind. They are moments of masked sabbath.

If I had no spiritual inclinations I would I call the tendency “the curse of the introvert”. That those who are of the myers brigg’s “I” tend to jump in and out of things so easily and can be stuck in decision making for months. 

It is with these times in the past that I have course-corrected many times in order to listen to the wisdom God grants and heed His authoritative whisper. I would hope I could trust myself to do that same in this moment - but it feels heavier somehow. The waves seem bigger. 

See, I should have realized at the beginning of this year that I began to have my first extissential crisis since I began my career and needed to give myself place for care.  

But as was my habit I denied myself , buried my emotions for everyone and not being fueled into properly - its has slowly turned into anger, hatred and rage ( for someone so typically marked my passivity.)

I callously ignored what would eventually have to be dealt with. Somewhere between then and now I traded romanticism and hope for reality. Traded endorphins for chronic exhaustion. Traded in optimism for apathy. And in doing came to realize I need rest. Or at the least need to learn habits of heart and mind to silence the passion and effort I have put into my career and to work to put barriers in place to make this sustainable for life. 

I am laid to waste - and the month or so I probably need to set up a trial and ask the questions that need to be asked and let God convict and  remind me of salvation and reframing all of this new of life in a kingdom response which would course correct things still alludes me.  

A short while and two years ago I began this “a different book”. It was meant to highlight the different life begun when I moved to New York City. Supposed to highlight the excitment and thrill of city living - my own delusions of grandeur all that was exciting and that which God had for me to do here - what he allowed me to see of His goodness. It was supposed to let others in - the lessons I was learning etc. Summarize and fuse the many fragmented thoughts.

But coming out of college and certain ways of thinking, ways of acting, ways of relating - I could have never predicted what the world would hold and how all those good intentions would play out. Although I had an inclination I didn’t realize how much I would have to relearn everything once again - I think in my pride and my romanticism I was foolish - that I had what it took… and that life would be a ” yoke is easy burden is light” type of thing. 

But as I’ve come to realize-  this - its the same old thing and is seldom marked by the new. My post’s growing infrequency may in fact be an indicator that as the most independant of all the personalities I’m finally not limiting myself to who I’ve been but opening myself up to other ways of being -  because it means I’m growing more and more tired with what this is   “that which is without works” .

The inherent nature of this city, career, and constraints of many types have proved to unfound and unravel the original intentions for my purpose here alongside the time able to be devoted to it. Old means of working through thoughts, of digesting life were now unable to be stomached in the same way. Old patterns of thought of fundamental logic proved unable to handle the load. And this is good. Change - difference is good. I need to remember this. 

And so I continue to unravel - I imagine the writings will become less and less frequent - I will trade in my net for a spear continue to trade my own abstraction and romantisism for more specific and real things and we’ll see what comes in the uncharted path. 

AWAKE, our souls! away, our fears!
Let every trembling thought be gone!
Awake, and run the heavenly race,
And put a cheerful courage on.

True, ‘tis a strait and thorny road,
And mortal spirits tire and faint;
But they forget the mighty God,
That feeds the strength of every saint.

O mighty God, thy matchless power
Is ever new, and ever young;
And firm endures, while endless years
Their everlasting circles run.

From thee, the ever-flowing spring,
Our souls shall drink a fresh supply;
While such as trust their native strength
Shall melt away, and droop, and die.

Swift as the eagle cuts the air,
We’ll mount aloft to thine abode;
On wings of love our souls shall fly,
Nor tire along the heavenly road.

-Wesley

For anyone who does art for a living these are very articulate and insightful thoughts from those who have practiced for years in the business world. Well worth the watch. 

I <3 Instagram

So I’ll admit it - I kinda have a crush on instagram. I hated on it originally - that is when I created my login info back when I first got my iphone 2 1/2 years ago.  Sadly the account lied dormant - I mean the filters  were lame and you had to do that awful square - but now I have found the light and truth about Instagram thanks to my wife

Here’s the truth- Instagram is a pretty awesome means to an end and is useful in solving a complex problem in our complex world when it comes to social media. 

See - Instagram is a filtered version of everything good about social media minus the square and I would argue is one of the few things out there that actually helps verses hinders actual interaction. 

Let me explain:

My generation swims in a vast shallow sea of information and novelty - I hope you know this by now. Due to this reality whether we admit it or not we’re probably overloaded with information most of the time and distracted when we find ourselves in actual face-to-face and thus do not use actual interaction well. Our conversations typically become trivial and the conversation become blips rather than sustained thoughtful interactions that impact each other’s lives - which is what actual relationships are about (chiseling and shaping each other)

Enter Instagram…(duhn dun duh)

See- Instagram inspires people to take photos of things to share thoughts on them or simply say nothing at all. It allows people to enter the lonely little worlds we all inhabit and say “wow I like that - this beauty you notice, see and pick up on, I actually want to be sharing in your experience.” It creates a longing inside of me and probably others to say I need to share this and encourages me and others to do so simply because its so simple and we crave the interaction. 

In a community that seeks to really be available and in each other’s lives there is a need for depth that is hard to sustain in our culture, society, and small talk tendencies - and we need all the help we can get - Instagram helps with the frequency and allows us to enter into a depth that is more regular : sharing of our food work and our pleasures creating a shared non-actual interaction that inspires actual interaction. Its awesome! 

All that to say I love Instagram - it has given me a means to share my world with those people who I may not be able to utter in words what its like. Which solves a big problem for someone who struggles to communicate my reality through words to those people I surround myself with the small circle of my latest version of life and those people I care to bring into this one from other places. 

So in the spirit of opening up my world to others I say this “Welcome to my world and follow me on instagram Hope you enjoy some depth from it. Looking forward to grabbing coffee or dinner at that place you took that picture at and you can ask some very pointed questions. It’ll be great!”

http://instagram.com/johngrinstead/

-John