Friday, September 30, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September Friday Night

The view from the porch has a little extra light from TT Cranny Field over at Grinnell High School. It's a September Friday night and that means football.
Many thanks to my dear stepdad Phil who taught me how to understand the game and how to enjoy watching it. With a 13 year old son who's life is about football right now, it helps a lot. Thanks, Phil.
Nights like this remind me of the other Tigers, the Red Oak Tigers. Friday nights with friends at what we now call Russ Benda Field and heading for chili at the Elks after the game ended.
I actually prefer to listen to sports on the radio. KGRN on Fridays and WHO on Saturdays.
There's a chill in the air and it is a night for hot food and a cold beer.
Go Tigers!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Busted open

Living with eyes and heart wide open is a wonderful goal. It sounds so encouraging to experience all that life has to offer.
Truth is, it takes a lot of courage to live that way.
If you are an adult and it isn't a challenge for you to live with your heart wide open, then your heart probably hasn't been broken open. I think we start off that way as children and then little by little we begin to develop the shell around the heart because we have experienced heartbreak, disappointment, hatred, jealousy...We develop coping mechanisms, healthy and unhealthy, to take the edge off or make us numb.
It takes risk to experience all that love is for us. Every time we open ourselves to experience life again, we take a risk.
Would it be easier to simply our close hearts to prevent us from the pain? Sure. But it also prevents us from feeling the amazing joy and love that life has to offer as well.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stanton, Nyman, Bethesda, Clarinda...

An interesting thing happened last weekend that is worthy of note...

I am getting to spend some time with two of my four parents alone these days. One weekend every month or so while the kids visit their dad, I spend a Saturday evening and night with my dad and stepmom. It has been ages since this happened, really, if at all.

Dad has treated us to Saturday dinner out somewhere around Red Oak, Iowa. We leave the house about 5 and listen to "A Prairie Home Companion" on the radio as we reach our dinner destination. Last week, the destination was The Ice House in Clarinda. We had a great meal and conversation, just the three of us. We finish our meal and get back in the car in time to listen to the monologue as we take the long way home.

Last week, Dad drove us through the grounds, still beautifully kept, at what is now known as the Clarinda Treatment Complex. Formerly a state institution for persons with mental illness. Back in the day, it could have been a private college campus. The views are pastoral and lovely as we head north out of town.

The area is familiar and we drive along the farms and rolling hills. A recent hailstorm has destroyed many acres of corn and beans - late season storms that strip the leaves and beat down the corn as if a truck had driven around the field.

South of Stanton, west to Bethesda, north to Nyman...this is the place where my great-grandparents settled when they immigrated from Sweden. The farms and communities they established more than 125 years ago. Earlier, Dad and I looked at a gift I had received from my dad's older sister. It was my great-grandmother Nora Olson Linquist's autograph book. Signed in beautiful pen and ink script by teachers and friends with equally stalwart Swedish names, sweet poems of remembrance, and the date. 1889 is the earliest year penned.

Driving those roads, I thought that those folks today would likely be able to find their way around. Many farms are still there, the churches are still there, the roads are paved and not dirt or gravel.

We then had a moment of serendipity. Remember my last post? About paying attention to those moments when things seem to conveniently converge? The last song played on "A Prairie Home Companion" that night was a hymn that is deeply cherished by this Swedish-American community in Montgomery and Page Counties of Iowa, and I have written about it before.

"Children of the Heavenly Father" is a tender and lovely cradle song, a lullaby of God as the Father and we as his children....safely gathered, protected, cared for and loved beyond measure. We hear this lovely hymn on one occasion and it will bring tears to the eyes of the most stoic Swede. It is typically played at funerals. We grow up hearing it first at our grandparents' funerals as we are children and at every funeral after. It's the song that we dread and adore at the same time. I've never quite been able to sing it all the way through and I marvel at those who are asked to sing it at a funeral.

This rendition was a lovely duet and they sang all the verses, including the first verse in Swedish as it is done these days. The music and the place seemed to come together in one of those Fellowship of Saints moments when I was reminded of the presence of all those people with me. It was an ideal soundtrack for this late summer drive through the land of our roots.

Life is amazing. Go through it with your eyes and heart wide open.