Sunday, January 8, 2012

GG cont. -The Cardinals

     There was just enough daylight to activate the torque clock "off" switch to our back yard security light when I took my second cup of coffee out to the gazebo to ponder upon the probable events of the day.  After a whispered thank you to the Lord for a restful night and the opportunity to view another beautiful sunrise, I looked around to see how much life giving dew was clinging to the grass and plants.  Since we have been through quite a long dry spell, just a little moisture must be appreciated by the greenery that is left.  My "thank yous" are like that.  In about two more months I can celebrate Thanksgiving Day as the beginning of my eighth year after four-bypass open heart surgery.  I had veen unaware of the things of this world for four days when I heard the nurse ask me to wake up as I had just had my Thanksgiving dinner a drop at a time.  Since then, I never take another meal of another day "just for granted".      

     The night light had attracted it's usual insect crop and many were victims of getting too close to the heat or flying into the building wall.  The early birds have found this to be the best cafeteria in town, and I suppose I was interrupting their meal schedule as suddenly a flash of scarlet streak-winged by me and I noted the flight of a beautiful male Cardinal to the large elm tree in my neighbors back yard.  I know this is only a stepping stone from one place to another as he journeys through his day of seeking food and avoiding his enemies.  Really, his home is in a very dense forsythia bush surrounded by vines and other shrubbery.  He and Mrs. Red planned it that way.  The old white cat next door can not penetrate to their home, they have lots of shade, the all-night light draws many bugs for an early breakfast, and when the new babies arrive they can jump from branch to branch until the parents peck them into flying on their own.  Proud papa finds the highest perch and brags about his state in life.  I think he is fortunate and one of the most beautiful of all creatures.  The thought occurs-God must have taken a white dove of peace and dipped it in the blood of the Lamb.  I guess it is seemingly juvenile to most people, but for years I have used the Cardinal as a reminder to lift a wish heavenward (a cheap form of prayer).  You can use a white horse, four leaf clover, or a buckeye, but Cardinals stay here the year around and when I was struggling through snow drifts or over icy roads on my rural mail route, I looked for a covey of red birds along the river roads.  I am glad I have one for a neighbor.

     God created us with certain instincts, the five senses, and incentives for a station in life.  Learn to be pleased with plenty, satisfied with sufficient, appreciative for ample, but do not take all the credit as does Mr. Cardinal and his proud song.  Mama Red is quieter but just as distinctive in her grey suit trimmed with red flecks, and she is always watchful and using the instincts granted by the Creator.

     You know, after pondering...I think it is going to be a great day.      -Russell Wood    

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gazebo Garbage-Dedication

     It seems the practice to dedicate a book or writings to someone whether it is only a few pages or a voluminous tome.  So, to conform, I think I should dedicate this to my grandchildren or great grandchildren in the event they should ever read it.

     My children are fairly well aware of my personality and character and my wife says she can read me like a book after fifty years of marriage so I am revealing nothing new to them in these excerpts from daily living.

     Therefore, jumping a generation gap, I woud like for the next two generations to draw their own conclusion from their retired grandfather's thoughts and opinions.

     The fact that I have kept a pictorial history on the growth of each of you should confirm that I have always been concerned about your progression in life, and ancestral love has been pleasant because none of you have ever disappointed me.  In fact, I have been guilty of infringing upon friendships in bragging about you as though I had something to do with your accomplishments.

     Financially speaking, I hope I have not spoiled you or blighted your aggressiveness by setting up minor trust funds for you.  I am not trying to buy your respect or love but just trying to smoothe some of the bumps in the rocky road of your life.  I sort of worked this stipend out with Uncle Sam with a little over two years of special service requiring my toe nails and some finger nails.  [Grandpa was an engineer in Patton's third army.  He suffered frozen hands and feet during the Battle of the Bulge.]
     I hope the gazebo garbage at least points out to you that I do have deep convictions underlying any attempt at facetiousness.  Not just any old religion, but dependence upon one I have proved to myself to be invaluable in living daily and have every assurance of it's eternal and infinite continuance of my destiny.  If I pass nothing else on to you, I hope you find this intangible gift as I have found it.  I more than just think of you sitting out in the gazebo.  Anything additional that is positive is just frosting on the cake.
                                                          Love always,  Grandpa Russ

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gazebo Garbage

     This is a picture of my Grandfather, Russell Wood.  It's one of my favorite pictures of him as it captures his joy and enthusiasm for life.  Grandpa built a gazebo out in the back yard (he could build anything), and for a few years when he was in his seventies, he submitted several journal entries to his local paper and called them "Gazebo Garbage" because that is where is he would sit and write his thoughts.  These blog articles before their time are anything but garbage, and they have continued to be a source of wisdom and laughter for all of us who have followed him.  Just this morning, a cardinal flew in front of the jeep when I was taking the kids to school.  Grandpa worked a rural mail route after he returned from the war, and every time a cardinal or a "red bird" would fly in front of his mail jeep, he would stop and say a prayer of thanksgiving.  I prayed with the kids on our way to school and reminded them of grandpa's ritual.  So, in the days to come I will be posting several of Grandpa's blog entries.  I'm sure you will enjoy them.  -Grant

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This Voyage

"I have never been able to grasp the meaning of time. I don't believe it exists. I've felt this again and again, when alone and out in nature. On such occasions, time does not exist. Nor does the future exist."
Thor Heyerdahl

     I read Kon Tiki for the first time in Jr. High, and now at 40 I am reading it again.  The account of this mind-boggling voyage across the pacific on a raft made of balsa wood is stunning and beautiful.  Imagine going 3 months without seeing land, eating only the produce you packed on the raft and whatever you can pull out of the ocean!  My fascination with voyages like this is deeply connected to the fact that at this point in my life, there are places in my soul where I feel far, far away from the ground I once walked around on and felt comfortable with.  It is a beautiful place, full of grace, terror, and the deep love of God.  I can only hope that maybe I am starting to see myself, the world and it's people the way the Creator does.  Peace to you on your journey, wherever it might be taking you right now.  -G     

Thursday, October 20, 2011

God's Wheel-Shel Silverstein

GOD says to me with a kind
of smile, "Hey how would you like
to be God awhile And steer the world?"
"Okay," says I, "I'll give it a try.

Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?"

"Gimme back that wheel," says GOD.
"I don't think you're quite ready YET."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"We cannot let another person into our hearts or minds unless we empty ourselves. We can truly listen to him or truly hear her only out of emptiness." 

                                        -M. Scott Peck

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Carl Jung on Conflict

"The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed. It is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed to produce valuable and lasting results."    - Carl Jung

This is Jung's stone tower at Bollingen.  It took him 40 years to build, carving it all by hand.  It is full of spiritual symbols, mandalas, stone carvings and sculptures.  I hold that Jung's integration of psychology and spirituality was like a breath of fresh air coming behind the inward, neurotic gaze of Freud.  For a fascinating look at Jung's inner life, I highly recommend "The Tao of Jung"  by David Rosen.  It provides a great glimpse of Jung's personal, professional and spiritual life with great photos and drawings of the different symbols at Bollingen.        

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rainer Maria Rilke-Nature

  "If you hold to Nature, to the simplicity that is in her, to the small detail that scarcely one man sees, which can so unexpectedly grow into something great and boundless; if you have this love for insignificant things and seek, simply as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems to be poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory, not perhaps in the understanding, which lags wondering behind, but in your innermost consciousnesss, wakefulness and knowing."
 -from "Letters to a Young Poet"

Get outside!  It's good for your brain, and good for your soul.  I believe we would have less Attention Deficit Disorder if we had less Nature Deficit Disorder.  That's purely qualitative research on my part, but I'm sticking to it.    

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dag Hammarskjold-Thus it Was

This is my new favorite poem.  It is from Dag Hammarskjold's "Markings".  I told Emma that if ever there was a poem I would want read at my "transition from this life to the next" party, this would be it.  Hammarskjold's journal entries in this book say nothing about his life's work as a diplomat or the Secretary of the United Nations.  He was a quiet sage, and a true mystic.

Thus it was 

I am being driven forward
Into an unknown land.
The pass grows steeper,
The air colder and sharper.
A wind from my unknown goal
Stirs the strings
Of expectation.

Still the question:
Shall I ever get there?
There where life resounds,
A clear pure note
In the silence.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

G.K. Chesterton on Marital Incompatibility

Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton this morning:
“If Americans can be divorced for ‘incompatibility of temper’, I cannot conceive why they are not all divorced.  I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one.  The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable.  For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.”
From “Chesterton Day by Day: The Wit and Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton” by Michael W. Perry

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Litany of Humility

This statue was on the grounds of the seminary I attended, and I remember how it would often stop me and ask me to ponder it.  In light of holy week, I am reminded of the value of submission and humility.  This prayer aligns me when other forces in the world  pull me towards the desire for recognition and esteem.  

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved, 
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. Amen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Transforming Your Conflict into Closeness

     Recently, Emma and I were watching "Master Class" on the Oprah channel.  Just for the record, I did not cry this time.  Diane Sawyer was the featured guru, and her interview was fantastic.  At one point, she was asked about how she managed to hold a marriage together during long seasons of travel and an intensive work schedule.  To summarize, she talked about how she and her husband tried to turn their fights into "requests".  Underneath every conflict is an unmet dream or desire of how things could be or should be.  When we request something of our spouse instead of criticizing them, we open up the possibility for deeper emotional intimacy, and we can turn reactivity into responsiveness.

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Celebrating the Imperfect Parent"

    This is the theme for ENGAGE 2011 which takes place February 26 at Indian Creek Community Church.  It's a combination workshop/resource fair for parents of teenagers hosted by YouthFront.  Emma and I will be conducting a breakout session on marriage.  This event grows each year and is top notch.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Next Resonate Marriage Workshop...

     Click this link:

     Take note that the date for this has been changed to February 19 instead of the 26th.  It's a great way for married people to refresh some of those things that are vital yet sometimes difficult to do.  Emma and I really enjoy these workshops because we can equip people for the prevention of difficult problems and hopefully keep them out of the marriage ER!  We strive to make it fun, practical and brief.  We hope to see you there!   -Grant  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Letting Go

"As you identify less and less with the "me", you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything. Do you know why? Because you are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked. You no longer desire to impress anyone. Can you imagine the relief when you don't have to impress anybody anymore? Oh, what a relief. Happiness at last!"                                                              -Anthony de Mello

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finding a Partner for Life

     There's no formula for it.  The dating websites won't tell you that, but it's true.  Compatability remains elusive despite our best efforts to capture it and bottle it up for consumption.  Don't get me wrong, I work with people often who have enjoyed satisfying relationships as a result of these services, but they really function more as an intelligent meeting place rather than a portal to "the right person".  Many are lonely during this season and longing for a soul mate to share life with.  Even though I've been married for 13 years now, I can still remember the lonely gut-ache that would accompany my awareness of being single with no prospects.

     I don't have any formulas for people either.  There was a person who gave me some great encouragement in this area.  I really wish I could remember who it was, because I would call them and thank them.  They told me:

     "Run your race, as hard as you can.  Run hard after your Creator.  Run hard after your passions and desires.  Run hard after your dreams.  Cultivate your talents and gifts.  Pursue the horizon of your own life relentlessly, and at some point, you may look to the left or the right, and find that others are running in the same direction alongside you.  You'll know it when this happens."

     I believe there's nothing more attractive than a person who is examining their own life in a co-creative effort with God.  Peace to you this season if you are feeling the ache of loneliness in your heart, and joy as you run your race.        -Grant            


Saturday, November 20, 2010

"I Prefer Winter and Fall"

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape-
 the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show."                                                                                   -   Andrew Wyeth

Friday, October 8, 2010

Want to Revolutionize Your Conversations with Others?

     I am testing a simple theory that the vast majority of our conversations are marked by statements we make about ourselves as opposed to questions we ask others.  It seems to me that the technology of our talking is attention-focused.  Part of me believes that our interest in blogs, facebook and twitter are desperate bids for attention and recognition.  There's nothing wrong here because we need these things, but I have noticed that when I shift the focus to others in conversation using questions, something radically different happens to the culture of that conversation.  True, my vocation includes asking questions and delving deeply into the words and worlds of others, but I have found that I am much more self-focused in my personal conversations with friends and family. 

     I am challenging myself to a different approach to my conversations.  I am simply calling it "Questionevertything".  The gist of it is to simply see how many exploratory questions I can ask someone about themselves in conversation.  Here's how it looks:

The Old Way:

"Wow, we had a great dinner last night at Bluestem." 

      "Oh, yeah, we ate there last weekend...loved the cucumber juice."

"My wife got a recipe for that, and it turned out pretty good."

     "My wife makes this great white chili dish, we eat it for our Halloween party every year."

"We're hosting New Year's this year, and it's going to be awesome."

    (UNSAID) "I'm better than you."

"I'm better than you."

     "Love me.  Acknowledge me."

"I hope you think I'm cool."

This is a ping-pong conversation that leaves both people wondering if they matter at all.

The New Way:  

    "Wow, we had a great dinner last night at Bluestem."

"Really, what did you order?"

     "The cucumber juice."

"Had you ever tried anything like that before?"

     "No, it reminded me of my grandma's garden."

"Did she live out in the country?"

     "No, she lived on the ocean."

"No way!  how did she manage to grow a garden on the ocean?"

     (UNSAID) "Hey, this person wants to know my story."

     Okay, you probably get the point.  When we engage others with meaningful questions, we validate their unique story, and we leave them with a sense of importance and value.  It's a risk, because they might not return the favor, but I would encourage you to try it anyway.  If you start to Questioneverything, share your experience here with comments.  It will make me feel very important. :)