Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


1 Comment

Humbled by the Mystery of Marriage

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdDr JI Packer picture

The famous Vancouver-based author Dr. J.I. Packer once commented that “marriage, being the most delicate and demanding of relationships, as well as potentially the most delightful, is a terribly difficult topic on which to write wisely and well.” In spite of such concerns, Dr. Packer agreed to write a foreword endorsing a Gold Medallion Book Award winner entitled “The Mystery of Marriage”. “Rarely”, says Packer, “has a new book roused in me so much enthusiasm as has the combination of wisdom, depth, dignity and glow … that I find in these chapters. “

The author, Mike Mason, believes that marriage comes to everyone as an intense invasion of one’s privacy. That is why he believes that there is in us “a secret resentment of the demands of marriage, a reluctance to give way any more than is absolutely necessary.” In all of us, there is a struggle between the needs for dependence and for independence, between the urge toward loving cooperation and the opposite urge toward detachment, privacy, self sufficiency.

 

One of the hardest things in marriage, says Mason, is the feeling of being watched. It is the constant surveillance that can get to one, that can wear one down like a bright light shining in the eyes, and that leads inevitably to the crumbling of all defenses, all facades, all the customary shams and masquerades of the personality. Being watched, for Mike Mason, is an ambivalent but life giving experience. “Being watched by one who loves is not like being watched by anyone else on earth! No, to be loved as one is being watched is like one thing only: it is like the watchfulness of the Lord God Himself …”

Loving Wisdom

Marriage to Mike Mason is a profound paradox, full of ambiguity. That is why he believes that ” … there is nothing in the world worse than a bad marriage, and at the same time nothing better than a good one.” To be married, says Mason, is to have found in a total stranger a near and long lost relative, a true blood relative even closer to us than father or mother.

 

Marriage for Mason is an act of contemplation. It is a divine pondering, an exercise in amazement. “Marriage, as simply as it can be defined, is the contemplation of the love of God in and through the form of another human being.”

Part of the mystery of marriage is that you can never exhaust the uniqueness and otherness of one’s partner.  Along with growing familiarity, marriage brings a growing sense of the strangeness and unknowability of one’s spouse.  As Mason puts it, ‘There is just something so purely and untouchably mysterious in the fact of living out one’s days cheek by jowl under the same roof with another being who always remains, no matter how close you manage to get, essentially a stranger. You know this person better than you have ever known anyone, yet often you wonder whether you know them at all.”

Love, for Mason, is an earthquake that relocates the center of the universe. Our natural tendency is to treat people as if they were not “others” at all, but merely aspects of ourselves. In a loving marriage, we cease to be the centre of our own universe. The very purpose of marriage is to draw us beyond ourselves, to “get us out beyond our depth, out of the shallows of our own secure egocentricity and into the dangerous and unpredictable depths of a real interpersonal encounter,” That is why marriage is so disturbingly intense and disruptively involving. “Angering, humiliating, melting, chastening, purifying, marriage touches us where we hurt most, in the place of our lovelessness.”

 

Marriage, says Mason, is one of God’s most powerful secret weapons for the revolutionizing of the human heart. It is a heavy, concentrated barrage upon the place of our greatest weakness, which is our relationship with others.

Heart

Marriage to Mason is the beating heart of society itself. Why do people love weddings so much? Because “every time a wedding takes place, the highest hopes and ideals of the whole community are rekindled”. For most people, says Mason, marriage is the single most wholehearted step they will ever take toward a fulfilling of Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbour as oneself.

 

Marriage is inevitably the flagship of all other relationships. One’s own home is the place where love must first be practised before it can truly be practiced anywhere else. My prayer for those reading this article is that love will first be practised in our homes and our marriages, so that it may truly overflow from our homes to bless the rest of our world.

 The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


1 Comment

A River Still Runs Through It

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdA%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It

It’s hard to find a really good movie that the whole family can watch together, without exploitive sexuality and violence. My extended family could not stop talking about ‘The River Runs through It’.  So eventually I too saw the movie and  joined the ranks of the enthusiastic “River” boosters.

 

The movie is directed by Robert Redford and the star of the movie “Norman” looks remarkably like a junior Robert Redford. It is set in the Midwestern United States of the 1920’s. Its breathtaking scenic shots are reason enough as to why this movie was an Academy Award winner.

 

The movie begins by having the elderly Norman recall his father’s words: “Someday when you are ready, you might tell our family story. Only then will you understand what happened and why.” An intriguing feature of this movie is that all the meaningful statements are deliberately understated in a way that provokes curiosity. For example, Norman commented: “in our family there was no clear line between fly fishing and religion.” Norman doesn’t really explain what he means, Instead he just teases your imagination, and then moves on. The symbol of life at its best was “the river running through.”

 

A%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It2Again and again, as tragedy and setbacks hit the Maclean family, they seemed to find solace and refreshment by returning to their family river, the big Blackfoot. As the movie put it, “Beneath the (river) rocks are the words of God. Listen … and if Paul and I listened very carefully all our lives, we might hear those words.”

 

Norman’s father was a rigid, but well meaning Presbyterian minister. There were times in the father’s life where his rigidity seemed to totally alienate his sons. Yet again and again their common love for the river would bring them back together as a family.

 

As Norman put it, “In the afternoon we would walk with him while he unwound between services and he almost always chose the path along the Blackfoot, which we considered our family river, and it was there that he found his soul restored and his imagination stirred.” Norman, of course, is making a clear allusion to the well known Psalm 23: “He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”

 

In contrast to the modem tendency to “pigeonhole” religion into a small private slot, Norman’s father saw religion as a totally normal part of everyday life. Faith was as normal for him as breathing or fly fishing. Flyfishing for the Macleans was a symbol of an integrated and healthy spirituality pervading all of life. As Norman put it, “… Paul and I probably received as many hours of instruction in fly fishing as we did in all other spiritual matters.”

 

Norman’s father saw fly fishing as symbolic of the rhythms of life that we all need to discover. Norman comments: “As a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a damn mess, and that only by picking up God’s rhythms could we regain power and beauty. To (Norman’s father), all good things come by grace, and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy.” Norman’s father trained his two sons to cast “Presbyterian style”, on a four count rhythm between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A%20River%20Runs%20Through%20It3

One of the most significant moments in the movie was the first time that Paul the younger brother broke free of his father’s instruction, into a shadow casting rhythm all his own. All of us, at some point, need to break free of our fathers’ spiritual instruction, to find a relationship with God that we can call our own Secondhand spirituality can only take us so far.

 

Paul stayed at home for college, unwilling to “leave the fish he had not yet caught. Norman went east for college, and entirely abandoned fly fishing.

 

When Norman returned home, he felt embarrassed and awkward down at the river, because he had lost touch with the rhythms of life while at college. Yet as the elderly Norman looked back on his life, he confessed that he was “haunted by waters”. Despite all the tragedy and horror of life, Norman’s returning to the river replenished him again and again.

As Norman put it, “… when I am alone in the half light of the canyon, all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and my memories, and the sounds of the big Blackfoot River, and the four count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.” A Jewish Rabbi said 2,000 years ago: “Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that streams of  living water may flow through the middle of our lives, bringing a peace that passes all understanding.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


2 Comments

Embracing Handel’s Messiah

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdhandel picture

Beethoven once said: “Handel was the greatest composer that ever lived.  I would uncover my head, and kneel before his tomb.”  King George III called Handel “the Shakespeare of Music.”  George Bernard Shaw commented that “Handel is not a mere composer in England: he is an institution.  What is more, he is a sacred institution.”

In North America and England, at the very least, Handel’s Messiah has become the most popular and performed and recorded and listened to choral work.  Many people stereotype Handel’s Messiah as Christmas music, but in earlier years, Messiah performances were more likely to occur at Easter.  For Handel, the Messiah was an Easter event that told not merely of birth but also of death and resurrection.

 

George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany within a month of Johanne Sebastian Bach (1685).  Handel’s father was a barber-surgeon who hated music and wanted his son to become a successful lawyer.  His aunt Anna gave Handel a spinet harpsichord that they hid in Handel’s attic, wrapping each string with thin strips of cloth, so that Handel could play undetected.

 

handel picture 2When George was eight or nine, the Duke of Weissenfels heard him play the postlude to a church service and he summoned the boy’s father and told him he ought to encourage such talent.  His only teacher was Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, a most learned and imaginative musician and teacher, who instilled in his young pupil a lifelong intellectual curiosity.  At age 11, Handel entered a musical contest at the Berlin court of the Elector with the famous composer Buononcini, and won.

 

When Handel moved to England in 1712, it was a beehive of musical activity with Italian opera ruling the day.  Within the next 30 year period in England, Handel wrote about 40 operas and 26 oratorios.  Handel did not play to easy audiences.  If opera attenders felt bored in Handel’s day, they would often start loud conversations, and walk around freely.  It was also a custom for them to play cards, and eat snacks right during the opera.

 

As Smith/Carlson put it, Handel “…was an inviting target for critics and for satire.  He was a foreigner, and an individual no one could help noticing.  He had large hands, large feet, a large appetite, and he wore a huge white wig with curls rippling over his shoulders.  He spoke English rather loudly in a colourful blending of Italian, German, and French.  He was temperamental, he loved freedom, and he hated restrictions which placed limits on his art…”

 

 Charles Burney, who later sang and played under him, told how Handel once raged at him when he made a mistake, “a circumstance very terrific to a young musician.”  But when Handel found that his mistake was caused by a copying error, he apologized generously (“I pec your parton – I am a very odd tog”, he said in Germanic English).

 

Handel also struggled with his weight, a problem about which critics mercilessly teased him.  His London years were up and down, and unbelievably down at times.  As Romain Rolland has tried to explain it: “He was surrounded by a crowd of bulldogs with terrible fangs, by unmusical men of letters who were likewise able to bite, by jealous colleagues, arrogant virtuosos, cannibalistic theatrical companies, fashionable cliques, feminine plots, and nationalistic leagues…Twice he was bankrupt, and once he was stricken by apoplexy amid the ruin of his company.  But he always found his feet again; he never gave in.”

 

Jesus on Cross picture The situation was so bleak in 1741 that just before he wrote the Messiah, he had seriously considered going back to Germany.  But instead of giving up, he turned more strongly to God.  Handel composed the Messiah in 24 days without once leaving his house.  During this time, his servant brought him food, and when he returned, the meal was often left uneaten.  While writing the “Hallelujah Chorus”, his servant discovered him with tears in his eyes.  He exclaimed, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!!”  As Newman Flower observes, “Considering the immensity of the work, and the short time involved in putting it to paper, it will remain, perhaps forever, the greatest feat in the whole history of musical composition.”

 

At a Messiah performance in 1759, honouring his seventy-fourth birthday, Handel responded to enthusiastic applause with these words: “Not from me – but from Heaven- comes all.”  In his last years he worshipped twice every day at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, near his home.

 

The Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and immediately won huge popular success.  In order to have room enough for the people,  a request was sent afar and wide, asking, “The favour of the Ladies not to come with hoops this day to the Music Hall in Fishamble Street.  The Gentlemen are desired to come without their swords.”  This is how the Dublin Newspaper reported the event: “…The best Judges allowed it to be the most finished work of Musick.  Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring crowded Audience.  The Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestic, and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear…”  Handel could have made a financial killing from the Messiah, but instead he designated that all the proceeds would go to charities.

 

In contrast to the Irish, the English did not initially like the Messiah.  This oratorio, after all, had no story.  The soloists had too little to do, and the chorus too much.  It was different, and the audience wasn’t ready for it.  Jennens who wrote the script didn’t like it either.  He commented: “Handel’s Messiah has disappointed me, being set in great haste, though he said he would be a year about it, and make it the best of all his Compositions.  I shall put no more Sacred Works into his hands, thus to be abused.”

 

Twenty-five years later, Handel’s Messiah was so popular with the English that they almost rioted, while waiting to hear it at Westminster Abbey.  People screamed, as they feared being trampled.  Others fainted.  Some threatened to break down the church doors.

 

Handel’s use of biblical words in a theatre was revolutionary, and those who opposed Handel went to great extremes to keep his oratorios from being successful.  For example, certain self-righteous women gave large teas or sponsored other theatrical performances on the days when Handel’s concerts were to take place in order to rob him of an audience.  As well, his enemies hired boys to tear down the advertisements about Handel’s Messiah.  One opponent wrote to a newspaper asking “if the Playhouse is a fit Temple…or a Company of Players fit Ministers of God’s Word.”  This person saw the Messiah as “prostituting sacred things to the perverse humour of a Set of obstinate people.”

 

In contrast, the famous preacher John Wesley liked Handel’s Messiah.  He wrote: “In many parts, especially several of the choruses, it exceeded my expectation.”  One clergy William Hanbury in 1759 said that you could hardly find an eye without tears in the whole audience.

 

The King was so deeply stirred with the exultant music, that when the first Hallelujah rang through the hall, he rose to his feet and remained standing until the last note of the chorus echoed through the house.  From this began the custom of standing for the Hallelujah chorus.  When a nobleman praised Handel as to how entertaining the Messiah was, Handel replied, “My Lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.”

 

What is it about the Messiah that makes it so popular?  Many scholars point to the spaciousness in Handel’s music, the dramatic silences, and the stirring contrast.  Sadie commented that the music of Handel’s, is a blend of different styles: English church music (especially the choruses), the German Passion-music tradition, the Italian melodic style.  In fact, three of the choruses are arranged from Italian love-duets which Handel had written thirty years before.  Handel’s genius was in bringing new and dramatic twists to the familiar and mundane.

 

In 1759 the almost blind Handel conducted a series of 10 concerts.  After performing the Messiah, he told some friends that he had one desire –to die on Good Friday.  “I want to die on Good Friday,” he said, “in the hope of rejoining the good God, my sweet Lord and Saviour, on the day of His resurrection.”

 

On Good Friday, he bid good-bye to his friends and dies the very next day on Holy Saturday, April 14th, 1759.  Handel was fittingly buried in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.  A close friend of Handel’s, James Smyth, said: “Handel died as he lived –as a good Christian, with a true sense of his duty to God and man, and in perfect charity with all the world…”

 

My prayer is that the words and music of Handel’s Messiah may help us experience the intimacy of Handel’s relationship with His Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


Leave a comment

Saltshakers and Light Bulbs

LampBy the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Abraham Lincoln once told the story of a backwoods traveler lost in a terrific thunderstorm. The rider floundered through the mud until his horse gave out. Then he stood alone in the middle of the road while lightning streaked and thunder roared around him. One crash seemed to shake the earth underneath, but he made a petition short and to the point: “0 Lord, if it is all the same to you, give us a little more light and a little less noise.”

 

One of the B.C. Transit Advertisements that always impressed me used to say: “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” The famous musical “Godspell” had a beautiful song entitled: “You are the light of the world!” Whenever I listened to that song, I was reminded that I could make a difference, if I was willing to let my light shine brightly.

The Vancouver Sun told us that Raffi sang “This Little Light of Mine” at a Presidential Inauguration. Once again I was reminded that even though I may feel small and insignificant, my little light can make a difference, if I let it shine. The amazing thing about light bulbs is that no matter how dark the room, once you turn on the light, it always drives out the darkness, Jesus said: Let your light so shine before people that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

 

The second verse of” This Little Light of Mine” says: “Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m going to let it shine!” This verse is a direct quote from Jesus who said: “… People do not light a lamp and put it under a bushel (bowl). Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to every one in the house.” Jesus is saying that our faith and love is meant to be a light that shines brightly all throughout the whole community.

My Grandmother Olive was the kind of loving neighbour whom people called “the salt of the earth,” Even when she was stuck in a wheelchair, she exuded such love that people flocked to her house from miles around. Grandma always used to telSalt Shakers picturel us about what great neighbours she had. But the truth is that it was her graciousness and love that brought out the best in those around her. Even when she was dying of cancer, she did her best to make others feel welcome. Her physician commented that Grandma made him feel better whenever he came to make a house call. When I gave communion to Grandma just before she died, she prayed with an unforgettable love and depth. Then she turned to me and said: “I’m ready to go. I want to be with Grandpa, my parents, and my good friends. I have such a good family. I love you very much.”

 

Grandma Hird was truly “the salt of the earth.” Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by people.” Salt adds taste to life. San preserves food from rotting. Salt heals wounds by destroying infections.

 

I thank God for Grandma Hird who in her own quiet way added taste to life, preserved relationships from rotting, and healed wounds in the hearts of little children. May all of us that seek God’s love become like Saltshakers and Light Bulbs. It is better to pass the salt and light a candle than curse the darkness.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca