Category Archives: Untamed

What I Saw Today at the Pool

So I’m watching this guy teach his little boy how to swim on his back.

Dad knows how it’s done. I know this because I can hear him from across the pool explain the process in clear, simple soundbites: “Kick your legs up and down.” Boy kicks like a frog. “No not like that, up and down. Now keep your face out of the water.” Boy swallows enough pool water to fill his tiny bladder, sputters, spits and coughs. “That’s why you keep your face out of the water. Don’t let you butt sink.” Boy let’s his butt sink. “I said, ‘DON’T let your butt sink.'” And so goes the lesson.

Boy looks to be about four and his attention span is also about a four. I know this because he swims like a madman for about four second and then bobs up and down like a fishing float and splashes water into his dad’s face, all the while laughing like the Joker. The kid must be insane.

Dad is a patient man. I know this because he continues the lesson in spite of the son’s lack of skill and interest; and he never raises his voice. Dad is also a gentle man. I know this because no matter how much water his son splashes in his face, he doesn’t splash back; even though it’s tempting. Dad is a wise man. I know this because he stopped the lesson before the meltdown; and gave him to mom.

Funny how things like this make me think. I’m a middle aged man, but sometimes when my Heavenly Father teaches me a lesson I’m still four.

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What’s In Your Hat?

20130120-191402.jpg The guy who sold me my Donegal hat told me about a really cool Irish tradition. He said the Irishmen would cut the stitching on one side of the interior label to create a little pocket. Then they would write a prayer or blessing and tuck it in the pocket so they would always have it with them. I like stuff like that, and although I’m not Irish, I connected with it. After a lot of thought, this is what I wrote:


Three things I seek:
– An unhurried life
– An untroubled mind
– An old age with few regrets

Not every time, but often when I wear my Donegal hat, I think of these aspirations. I like to think that maybe by keeping them close and pondering them from time to time, they might actually have some influence upon the second half of my life.

If you were to write something like that to keep under your hat or in your wallet, what would it be? Feel free to share your ideas by replying to this post. Your prayer or blessing may encourage someone.


January 21, 2013 · 8:00 am

The Awareness of the Untamed

One more question for now – when did you first discover the untamed?

I can’t say I discovered anything. It was more like becoming aware. Some years ago, I was taking inventory of my spiritual journey. It occurred to me that my faith had experienced five distinct stages. Very briefly, they were:

Pioneer Faith: When I first became a Christian in 1983, everything was new and exciting. The Word of God, my new Christian family, worship – it was all like exploring an unknown country. I was like a pioneer, eager to explore and learn.

Maturing Faith: I quickly grew in my new found faith to the point that I began to really get it. I learned my way around the Bible, understood how to live biblical principles, and became confident in who I was as well as Who’s I was – a child of God.

Sophisticated Faith: After several years, the language and customs of the Church were very familiar to me. I understood the expectations and learned how to appear spiritual. I never doubted God or His faithfulness, but I do confess to a period when I felt quite dry spiritually. I was going through the motions, but my faith lacked the zeal and strength of the Pioneer Stage. This led to a brief next stage…

Domesticated Faith: This stage can be summed up in a quote by Dorothy Sayers: “We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah,” turning Jesus “into a household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.” I think a lot of Christians know this stage well. It’s a devotion to Christianity rather than Christ. It’s a religion of form without the substance of a real relationship with Jesus. And it’s stifling. Now the interesting thing about Domesticated Faith is that the cage has no door. We enter freely, and freely we may leave. But the longer we stay there, the harder it is to find the opening.

Untamed Faith: I’d love to say that I found the exit to the cage, but that would be giving myself too much credit. God, Who was still with me, woke me. He opened my eyes and led me out. And once I left the cage, I re-discovered what I had experienced years earlier in the Pioneer Stage. So, in effect, I have come full circe. I am getting to know my Lord all over again.

That’s how I first became aware of the Untamed. It’s a term that recognizes God as the Bible describes Him: Both Good and Dangerous. That awareness necessitated a change in my faith. Domesticated Faith is not courageous enough to follow the Untamed God.


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Untamed – Part III

I’ve been giving this idea of yours a lot of thought.

Good. That’s the beginning of discovery.

It seems to me the untamed is just another word for something every person (and animal, for that matter) aspires to: Freedom, liberty, independence. Aren’t they all the same idea?

I think you are pointed in the right direction, but I’m not convinced about the aspiration part. I do think most people believe they want freedom, liberty, and independence. They may even put up the front that they are living on their own terms. Yet we live in a world with so many pressures to conform, it’s really hard to get past those. Here we have just entered the part about which I want to be very clear. Laws and societal norms are necessary. We can’t all go around simply living any way we choose. That would be chaos, and none of us want to live in that kind of world. This is why I make a distinction between untamed and wild. Wild is simply giving in to the most base urges. Untamed is freedom with respect for others and acceptance of certain unbreakable parameters (truths, if you will).

So, the untamed is somewhere between a domestic pet and a wild beast?

That’s a great way to look at it. In the purest sense, a pet bows to the owner’s every whim. It eats only when it’s fed, goes out and comes in at the discretion of the owner, and cowers under the owner’s hand when it misbehaves. Domestication means conformity to the world of the owner. Think about a fish in a tank or a dog in a fenced yard. The wild beast, on the other hand, roams free, eats what it wants, goes where it wants, and bows to no one. A wild beast will fight to its own death rather than allow itself to be caged. Now bring these two ideas into the human realm. We all know people who have been domesticated to the point of absolute submission and conformity to many masters – work, family, religion, a home owner’s association. They are so tame that they have lost their identity. On the other side, we know of people who are akin to the wild beasts. They have no regard for others and many have suffered horribly because of their selfish and destructive behavior. The untamed is neither of these extremes. The untamed approach to life is about freedom and responsibility, liberty and respect for others, independence and acceptance of an honorable code of ethics and morality.

That’s a lot to think about.

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The Untamed – A State of Mind

Our conversation with Michael about the untamed continue.

Places like Alaska and Wyoming sound great, but I live in a city. Is the untamed only about physical surroundings?

No, not at all. It’s just easier to get there mentally when you don’t have all the distractions of civilization. I do believe physical surroundings have a draw on a person. People tend to become like their environment. So, while the untamed may come more naturally to people who live in those places, city dwellers can get there by adapting. Which is okay because people who live in cities have to adapt all the time.

I think a lot of people would argue that city life is pretty untamed itself. Have you heard “Welcome To the Jungle,” by Guns and Roses?

(Laughs) Yeah, I can see that, but it’s really not like that at all.

Okay, so what exactly do you mean by the untamed?

The untamed is really a state of mind. It’s more about who you are than what you do. For example, two guys live in the same place, have the same kind of job, drive the same kind of car, shop at the same stores. By looking at them, you’d swear they were the same guy, but they aren’t. The first guy lives by conventional thinking, and the other guy…well, it’s like he’s getting his cues from somewhere else, like he’s following a different program.

Like he’s hearing little voices in his head? They have a place for people like that.

No, it’s not that at all. The second guy isn’t crazy. He’s not a rebel. He’s not a recluse or an outcast or even socially awkward. He’s just as good a neighbor as the first guy. The difference is at the center of their being, that core principle that determines how they see the world and understand their place in it. To get to the point, the guy who feels the pull of the untamed understands how human society works, but he isn’t wholly defined by it. He lives in the so-called “real world,” but he isn’t afraid to consider unconventional ideas and he isn’t threatened by hard questions. He gets along just fine in society, but he knows there is a lot more to life than work and weekends. He has a sense for adventure, an appreciate for real mystery, and a curiosity for the unknown.

I think I’m starting to understand, but I’m not quite sure I’m getting the whole picture. Maybe we can explore this some more later.

Yes, I’d like that.

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10. The setting for BLACKWELL is a ranch on the edge of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Central Wyoming, somewhere to the northeast of the town of Riverton.

I lived in Riverton for three years (1997-2000). While the Blackwell Ranch is fictitious, several places mentioned in BLACKWELL do exist. Through my main character, Rick Blackwell, I tried to capture the true sense of living in the untamed.  If you get a chance to visit Wyoming, I am sure you will experience much of what Rick and I have.

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