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growing young

Bloged in life, love and marriage, metaphor, time by rod Monday March 19, 2007

So Allison turned 43 today.
Rounded off to the nearest year, we’re the same age again. I really don’t enjoy those 37 days during which she is a year younger than I am. I’m always afraid she’ll think I’m too old for her and run off with a younger man. But, now I’m safe for another year, we’re the same age again.
Allison worked last night. In fact, she worked an extra 12-hour night shift this weekend. So on the morning of her birthday, she could have done what you and I would have done after a night’s work. Instead, she came home, changed shoes and ran 50 miles. Well, somewhere between 5 and 50. But still. Right? After a night shift, and at 43? Sheesh.

I’m really proud to be able to say I’m married to a 43 year-old woman because in all honesty, no one believes it. In some ways, she is like my own mom, whose age peaked at some point, and she has since been getting younger. Allison’s age peaked a couple years ago, and while I believe she has grown more in these two years than perhaps all of life before, she has grown younger at an equal rate.
Her increasing youth is manifest in growing dependence on all those around us. She is becoming less afraid to need and is regaining the ability to be vulnerable – a trait that is stolen away as we age and lose innocence and naiveté.
It seems like a paradox that the more we grow, the younger we get. A mystery. But it’s real. We’re told that unless we come as children, we won’t get it. The whole world pressures us to grow up, be rational, reason and understand. But they don’t get. Children can imagine what doesn’t seem possible and believe what can’t be explained. Once we convince ourselves to do what we desperately want to do, to believe what we desperately want to believe, we begin to grow younger. What is too good to be real becomes commonplace.
Rich Mullins wrote, “we are children no more, we have sinned and grown old, but our Father still waits and he watches down the road… growing young…”

Of course, those of you who have seen her lately know that not all her increasing youth is in the form of heart and spirit. There are physical manifestations too, if I may say so.
I’ve known her since we were 18, and in my heart of hearts, I’d choose body, soul, and spirit, March 19, 2007’s Allison over any other day’s Allison since August 1982.
I know that the normal gender expression of aging is that women fight it and men seem not to care (as long as they get a sports car in their early 50s). But we are definitely reversed, Allison and I. She beautifully and gracefully gathers the days and months and years. She joyfully grasps the wisdom those years are bringing. She smiles at the sprigs of gray sprouting in both our manes.
I’m learning from her that there may be some possibility that the results of these dog years are not all decay. I look at the beautiful laugh lines forming at the corner of her eyes and I realize that the older you get the less effective the façade at covering the spirit that lies within.
I too want to learn to carry myself in such a way that the wind and the years form a surface that is indicative of what lies beneath. I want to grow on the inside so that the patina reflects the wisdom and experience found within.
Thank you, Allison, for being pro-aging. Thank you for growing. I pray that we continue to learn to nourish and tend to one another through the rest of our growing season.

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Bloged in family, love and marriage by rod Thursday February 1, 2007

So blogging is one of those end of the day activities that help to rid the restless mind of all the accumulation of the day, and allows focus, calm and relaxed processing of all that has preoccupied during the day. There are exceptions, but most often, jotting down my thoughts is the last thing that happens in my day. The kids are all settled and dreaming and Allison is usually sacked out and snoring. On the occasions when she is not depleted before the children, she and I have some quiet time together after they’ve drifted off. This time of being together rids the mind of clutter much more effectively than any amount of jotting and typing, and that is fortunate because it also uses the jotting and typing time.

Rejoice with me when my blog stands unchanged.

wintry day

Bloged in life, love and marriage, seasons by rod Thursday January 18, 2007

Two days ago, I came across a few photos that I’d not seen for some time, and continued my streak of uploading too many photos to flickr. The last one I put there was a shot of Farming Creek Road taken on my way to work on a frosty, frozen, beautiful Monday morning almost exactly two years ago. I thought it was fun to post that pic, because it was so unseasonably warm at the moment. Temps in the 80s all weekend with nightly lows that allowed for deck sitting without a jacket.


Lo and behold Old Man Winter. His icy breath swept us and brought frozen tears from the reluctant sky. All manner of operations were on a two-hour delay this morning, including all schools in the area. Go ahead and laugh, Yankees - down here we’re unprepared.
Molly slept with her pajamas inside-out and a spoon under her pillow in hopes that would bring on a weather induced school closing. I don’t know if it was that or my picture that changed the climate so quickly.
This morning, as I drove into work late, I drove across Farming Creek to view a scene almost identical to that old pic. Silvery wisps weighing down the pine boughs, icy sparkles glinting in the fields. And of course a bare, misty tree filled with balls of mistletoe.
Seems like a great night for firewood, popcorn, sweatshirts, and mistletoe induced companionship.

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Bloged in life, love and marriage, seasons, time by rod Monday December 4, 2006

Yes, my normally contemplative brain grows more so at season changes. If you’ve been visiting here for any length of time, you’ll know this about me. The way I ramble on at the changes of seasons actually embarrasses me a bit. You must be thinking, “here he goes again.”
Of course my seasonal thoughts and emotions are contextual to our South Carolina climate, so if any of you would be willing to admit that you are also affected, perhaps your thoughts or emotions occur earlier or later than mine. Spring comes earlier and Fall comes later here than for many of my readers.
Yesterday was our first wintry day. Many of you would no doubt laugh at that adjective applied to yesterday had you experienced it, but when I walked outside between services to get a cup of coffee, it was at least 10 degrees colder than it had been when I got there an hour earlier. The sky was overcast and a chill hung in the air all day long. Last night, December’s “cold moon” was nearly full and shone brightly from behind a thin veil of broken, fast moving clouds.
I remember once riding in a van across the Pennsylvania turnpike on a cold winter day a couple decades ago. Allison looked out the window at the barren hillsides and brown grassy hollows and commented on its dreariness. I disagreed, and told her how I thought it was just as beautiful as any other season, but in a completely different way. At the time, there was little I enjoyed more than slowly walking through winter woods, looking for shape and line in the monochrome landscape, curiously following hollows carpeted with tall brown grass.
For years, I’ve not had time, occasion or opportunity to do that. As a result, it doesn’t excite me like it did back then. On the contrary, it rather depresses me. Long cold nights and short chilly days. One hunches over and moves quickly through the cold outdoors only to get from one building to another, from the house to the car or the car to the house. I seem to have forgotten how much different the experience is if you give yourself to it. For years, I’ve mourned as the colors of autumn flutter to the ground and the once shady trees expose us to the biting winds of winter.

I don’t know, I probably have the same thoughts and say the same things every year at the beginning of each season. But why do these thoughts seem so new and epiphanic every year? Change. It’s uncomfortable. It marks the passage of time. It’s the green light on a one-way street with all you’ve known in your rearview mirror.
Yesterday, as I drove home from church, chilled from the short jaunt to the car, I looked up into the cold, newly bare trees at the countless, huge, dense balls of mistletoe. Now that’s something that you don’t see in the summertime. Mistletoe.
I thought of warm lips. I thought of wintry, woodsy walks all bundled up with gloved hand in gloved hand and frequent pauses under those mistletoe laden bare branches. I thought of fireplaces, coffee, comforters, and Saturday mornings.
Winter ain’t all that bad.

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intimacy 1.0

Bloged in apprenticeship, life, love and marriage, worship by rod Thursday November 16, 2006

Clarity is of no importance because nobody listens and nobody knows what you mean no matter what you mean, nor how clearly you mean what you mean. But if you have vitality enough of knowing enough of what you mean, somebody and sometime and sometimes a great many will have to realize that you know what you mean and so they will agree that you mean what you know, what you know you mean, which is as near as anybody can come to understanding anyone.

-gertrude stein

I will spend way too much time in this series of posts talking about a sort of specific thing. I say way too much time because it is only a part of what I’m talking about, or maybe I should say, a symptom of what I’m talking about, or a manifestation. The problem is underlying. It is a relational problem and because our human relationships are at least partly types and metaphors for a greater relationship, practically everything I say will have a parallel, if not larger meaning. And though that of which I speak less, perhaps, will be of greater importance, and I’ll feel ok about having not had enough time to speak of it more because in fact, THAT is what I was talking about the whole time.
Many of you have spent a considerable amount of time with me and know this about me. You will probably follow right along. I tend to think very broadly and connected and feel relationship in all things. As a result, I’ll be talking about several things at the same time. The problem is that sometimes my language slips between metaphor and subject. Don’t be confused.

God’s language when talking about his relationship with his people nearly always reflected relationship between a man and a woman. He used adultery to symbolize idolatry. It seems that to him, idolatry WAS adultery in our covenantal relationship with him.
So our topic is sex, love, and worship.
I can think of no better language or relationship to discuss this, and so will follow his lead. There are words that are broader than their common usage, and phrases that are associated with meaning even when they are taken out of context. Sometimes, even similar phrases can have very different associations based on contextual perspective. So what happens when I juxtapose words and phrases and contexts?

Think these through:

Casual worship
Worship promiscuity
Love is verb
Worship is a noun

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new moon shine

Bloged in love and marriage by rod Wednesday September 20, 2006

“’twas on this day we were married.” That was my announcement to which Molly replied, “Yeah, way back in the 1900s!”

This year seems to mark a milestone to me. Ages and anniversaries ending in zero seem to be a big deal.
This year we’ve treated like a Jubilee year. We’ve stretched our anniversary into months. So today means little more than the year has meant. We spent a week on a tiny island under the Full Thunder Moon. We visited family and rode our bikes through the cornfields under the Full Grain Moon. We’ve basked and struggled, fought and loved, rested and worried, shared hopes and disappointments.
We’ve danced our 20th year of marriage.
Today begins our second 20 years, and it’s symbolized by the birth of the Harvest Moon. Tonight the old moon goes dark and closes a chapter, while the new moon begins to grow.
Last year, the harvest moon shown bright, rising at nearly the same time each evening and moving across the sky throwing shadows in its wake. On the 20th, it was barely beginning to wane. I waxed on about moons and their relationships with Allison’s and my relationship, culminating on that, our 19th anniversary.
But this year’s Harvest Moon isn’t full until October 6, which means this anniversary gets observed under a dark new moon. For the next two weeks, the moon will grow a bit each night, a fresh new Harvest Moon to represent the commencement of the next 20 years of marriage.

May we also grow brighter each day, and find beauty in the waxing and waning. May we be forever tidally locked, showing one another the same constant face midst the ebb and flow. May our love be as faithful as the sunrise and as sure and growing as the waxing moon. May our marriage be as bright and colorful as the autumn, may our love be as deep and obvious as the monochromatic night sky.

It’s multi-hued and saturated.
It’s black and white delineated.
It’s purple and orange backlit.

Dance with me tonight beneath the Milkyway. Stand with me and shine in the darkness of the new moon. Gaze up into the expanse and then deep into my eyes and find no less depth of love.

…as the years go by…

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the 14th night of the purple moon

Bloged in love and marriage, poems by rod Tuesday August 8, 2006


On this night in July, the 14th night of the moon,
the island glowed like the river bottom last September
when the misty air tinted blue, and she
illuminated many dark years.

A sharper light, this –no shadows cast
luminescent objects shone themselves.
“Remember me”, they seemed to say
and glowed themselves onto our hearts.

From within, you outshone the lesser light.
She reflected you on the water.
Salty air, warm sand, cool surf, soft skin
Time stopped as the waves washed our spirits.

Walking back up the bluff in the purple moonlight
your white skirt flowed like a sail in the trade winds,
drawing us on toward the dawn-
fingers and hearts intertwined.

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island time

Bloged in culture, love and marriage by rod Saturday July 8, 2006

So you know from my last blog post that my watch battery died. So I left the watch home when we drove to the airport. Of course I didn’t expect Allison to forget her watch. These days almost every gadget that goes everywhere with us contains the date and time. Watch, cell phone, PDA, iPod, computer, etc. Of course the cell phone is useless here in the middle of the Caribbean, so my computer and iPod are the only items we brought along which can give us the time. It’s a bit much to carry around, boot up, etc. just to check the time. So we’ve pretty much ceased to know what time it is. Who cares? Actually, if we’ve remembered to put our requests in the bamboo tube outside, we don’t even have to remember to go eat. The food comes when it is supposed to, so we know it’s supposed to come when it does.
Of course there’s the sun and the moon to help with keeping track of time. You’d think that would be enough for me. But we’re not at home, and I’m watching the moon from a completely different perspective. It rises at a different place on the horizon, and travels a different path across the sky. Tonight it rose about an hour before the sunset, which is almost 3 hours earlier than at home. So tomorrow, it should appear just as the sun disappears and will be nearly full.
So right now, its 7:30, I know because my computer is open, the moon is high in the sky, and the sun set about an hour ago, and back home the moon is barely visible rising stealthily while the sun hangs barely casting colors against the clouds.
So, even though the day seems to wane 3 hours early, it has in fact been a long, leisurely, slow moving day. And supper doesn’t even start until 7:30. Allison is primping to walk in the moon light down to the west end of the island where there is a barbeque happening right now.
It’s X o’clock and all is well.

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they’re watching you

Bloged in family, love and marriage, parenting by rod Wednesday June 28, 2006

This morning as Allison was rushing to get ready for work, she asked me if I’d iron her clothes so she wouldn’t be late. So I turned on the iron and got to work. Molly was talking to me while I ironed, and said, “dad, do you remember when Pastor Don said on Sunday, that “you take out the trash for your spouse not because you have to, but because you love them? Well, I turned to Nikki and joked, ‘I guess I won’t love my spouse because I don’t want to take out the trash.’ Anyway, I was thinking about that while I was watching you iron mom’s clothes.”

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my first

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, community, life, love and marriage by rod Saturday June 3, 2006

Whenever I gather with family and friends I fantasize that I’m in a gathering of followers in Jesus’ physical midst. He’s leading and teaching us, and among us are die-hard believers, his close friends, self-righteous, curious seekers, downcast and down and out, and mockers, all invited into his family, and offered the same promises. After all, He did promise that wherever two or more are gathered in His name, he would be in our midst, and here we are, members of the Bride of Christ, gathered in his name to ask that He join Nathan and Katherine in a bond that only He understands. It is an unfathomable Mystery. Marriage, an honorable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying to us the mystical union that is between Christ and his Church.

Oh, you lovers everywhere
Who are parted and troubled,
Or near and discordant,
Go quickly to Him who waits
On the hilltops of your souls,
For there you will find peace,
And your hidden love.

He is the ultimate answer
And even now
Is nearer than breath
Or as far away
As your stubborn will.

(Celtic Daily Prayer)

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