Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


2 Comments

The Heart of Valentine’s Day

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My wife Janice and I  celebrated our 41st Wedding Anniversary.  Over four decades later, I can say without reservation that I love her more deeply with each passing year.  It is too easy to take one’s marriage partner for granted in our extremely busy world.  Yet each of us want to feel special and appreciated.  Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to go to the very heart of what marriage is really all about.  Valentine’s Day was birthed in a time much like nowadays when people were encouraged to look down on marriage as an interference with their personal freedoms and careers.

Through attending a Marriage Encounter weekend, I have learned that one of the most romantic things that one can do on Valentine’s Day (and every day) is to write a personal letter to one’s sweetheart.

Despite Napoleon Bonaparte’s extreme busyness in leading France, he took time to write as many as 75,000 letters in his lifetime, many of them to his beautiful wife, Josephine, both before and during their marriage. This letter, written just prior to their 1796 wedding, shows surprising tenderness and emotion from the future emperor.

“I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?  My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.

Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.”

Each Valentine’s Day, approximately 1 billion letters and cards are sent each year to loved ones.  So where does this remarkably popular Saint Valentine’s Day come from anyway? In the city of Rome around 270AD, there lived an Emperor known as Claudius the Cruel.  Claudius was having problems recruiting men to serve in his armies, because the men selfishly wanted to stay home with their wives and children. Angry that his men were more loyal to their wives than to himself, Claudius decided to outlaw marriage!

Couples who were in love searched for someone who would help them get married, even in secret.  A priest named Valentine performed wedding ceremonies for these desperate young lovers. When a young couple came to the temple, he secretly united them in marriage in front of the sacred altar. Another pair sought his aid and in secret he wed them. Others came and quietly were married. Valentine quickly became the friend of lovers in every district of Rome.

But, such secrets could not be kept for long in Rome. At last word of Valentine’s acts reached the palace and Claudius the Cruel was angry, exceedingly angry.  On the orders of Claudius, Valentine was dragged from the temple, away from the altar where a young maiden and a Roman youth stood, ready to be married, and taken off to jail.

Valentine’s jailer had a daughter, Augustine. She was so kind to Valentine during his brutal imprisonment, that Valentine sent a ‘Valentine’s Card’ with a grateful “thank you” message for all that she had done.

Many asked Claudius to release Valentine but Claudius refused to do so.  As a punishment for supporting marriage, Valentine was beaten to death with clubs and then beheaded.  Valentine laid down his life for others because he passionately believed in the sanctity of marriage.  His devoted friends buried him in the church of St. Praxedes.   The date of his tragic murder was February 14th AD 270. .

History tells us the first modern valentines’ ‘card’ date from the early years of the fifteenth century. The young French Duke of Orleans, captured at the battle of Agincourt, was kept a prisoner in the Tower of London for many years. He wrote poem after poem to his wife, real valentines, of which about sixty of them remain. These can be seen among the royal papers in the British Museum.

All of my Valentine’s Day Cards to my wife over the past 34 years have been marked with a string of “X”s to represent kisses.  The practice of using an “X” for a kiss grew out of the medieval practice of letting illiterate people sign documents with an “X” to represent their name. This was done in the presence of witnesses and a kiss was given upon the “X” to show sincerity. The “X” then became synonymous with a kiss in the minds of most people.  Why did they sign with an “X”?  One reason was because the “X” shape represented St. Andrew’s cross which is also used in the Scottish and British flags.  But most importantly for our ancestors, the “X” represented the first Greek letter (Chi) in the name ‘Christ’.  (That’s why Xmas stands for the ‘Christ’ in CHRIST-mas.)

For our forebears, “X” = Kisses=Love=the Cross=Christ.

As my wife and I will be celebrating thirty-four years of a loving committed marriage, I am reminded that ‘X’ marks the spot in our grateful marriage.  ‘X’ has been the open secret to our perseverance through good times and bad times.  ‘X’ has been the key to our hanging in there through sickness and health.  ‘X’ will be the key to our having and holding till death do us part.  My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us, like Saint Valentine, may be open to a personal encounter with the eternal ‘X’, Jesus Christ.

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

-award-winning author of the 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.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

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.


11 Comments

Don Quixote: Chasing After Marriage’s Windmills

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdman of la mancha

As a child, I read a comic book version of Don Quixote, and concluded that he was a total fool to go chasing after windmills.  Years later, I’ve observed that many of us as adults end up chasing after windmills in business, politics, relationships, or sports.

 

One of those windmills is twisting ourselves into a knot, trying to have the perfect marriage relationship.  Anne Wilson Shaef, a well-known 12-Step writer, comments that relationships are always better in the abstract, and that reality is the stuff that ruins what dreams are made of.  Her counsel is that when we let go of what marriage should be and let marriage be what it is, we can have a chance for marriage to be what it can be.

don-quixoteIf you’ve never seen the award-winning Broadway musical and Hollywood movie Man of La Mancha, I recommend that you and your spouse rent or borrow it in the near future.  There is something about those songs that stir me every time I hear them, especially To Dream the Impossible Dream, Dulcinea, and Aldonza.

Peter O’toole does a brilliant performance as Don Quixote, a skinny old gentleman with wispy white hair and a care-worn face, a seeming mad-man who dreams the impossible dream of restoring love and gallantry to everyday relationships.  Sophia Loren memorably lives out the character of Aldonza, a sullen and abused kitchen-wench, who is transformed into Dulcinea by Quixote’s unfailing respect.

The so-called sexual revolution of the 1960’s was supposed to remove barriers that kept people from reaching their full potential.  Instead it slowly eroded an appreciation for the sanctity of the marriage relationship, and often left women more vulnerable to abuse and abandonment.

Don Quixote symbolizes a recovery of chivalryman_of_la_mancha2 and mutual respect in the male-female relationship.  Upon encountering Aldonza, Don Quixote sings: “I have dreamed thee too long, never seen thee or touched thee but know thee with all of my heart.  Half a prayer, half a song, thou has always been with me, though we have always been apart, Dulcinea…Dulcinea”.  Don Quixote repeatedly speaks blessing into Aldonza’s life, calling her Dulcinea (meaning sweetness).

Despite her rejection of his love, Don Quixote still keeps speaking into her life with patience and gentleness.  Again and again Quixote reaffirms that the male-female marriage relationship is far more than just physical: it is a spiritual reality, an experience of one flesh intimacy.

That is why Quixote, the Man of La Mancha, sings: “I see heaven when I see thee, and thy name is like a prayer an angel whispers, Dulcinea…I have sought thee, sung thee, dreamed thee, Dulcinea”.  Because of how deeply Aldonza has been hurt by other men, it seems almost impossible that she could ever learn to trust again.  She struggles between the fear that Don Quixote is just an old fool and the faint hope that he might indeed be her knight in shining armour.

windmillAt one point in the movie, Quixote’s relatives try to take him away from Aldonza, claiming that he is mad.  The priest pauses and says: “One might say that Jesus was mad, or St. Francis.”  In one sense, Don Quixote functions as a Christ-figure, one who gives his life for others, even though dismissed as insane by his own family (Mark 3:21).  In another sense, Don Quixote symbolizes the faithful pilgrim, like Francis of Assisi, who saw so clearly through the hypocrisy of his age that he was rejected as a “fool for Christ”(1 Corinthians 4:10).  Either way, Don Quixote reminds us as men that sometimes we have to humble ourselves and look foolish, if we really want our marriages to blossom.

Don Quixote was shameless in his affirming of Dulcinea.  In response, she cynically said: “Your heart doesn’t know much about women”.  Instead of giving up, Quixote gently responded: “Woman is the soul of man, the radiance that lights his way. Woman is glory”.  Dulcinea was deeply afraid that he would just use her and discard her, like all the rest.  She said to him: “What do you want of me?”

As a true errant knight, Quixote said: “I ask of my lady that I may be allowed to serve her, that I may hold her in my heart, that to her I may dedicate each victory and call upon her in defeat, and if at last I give my life, I give it in the sacred name of Dulcinea.”

Gradually Dulcinea melts in the face of Don DulcinaQuixote’s gentleness and patience.  She sings: “Can’t you see what your gentle insanities do to me? Rob me of anger and give me despair.  Blows and abuse I can take and give back again, Tenderness I cannot bear.”

Tenderness is what we most need in our marriages today.  Tenderness is what will heal the deepest wounds.  Tenderness is a gift of love from the heart of Jesus himself. May Don Quixote’s gentle insanities give each of us hope for our marriages in the days and years ahead.

 

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

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

for better for worse

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

-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 


11 Comments

Romancing the Heart of Stone

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

shakespeare9

What is Love, said one anonymous blogger? “It is a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.”

Shakespeare wrote: “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes. Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers tears. What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall and a preserving sweet.”

The famous Pirate Captain Blackbeard was a firm believer in marriage. Some say that he had fourteen wives in different ports.  Howard Hughes as a modern-day pirate Howard Hughes picturereportedly had over 250 partners/girlfriends stashed in different locations, many which falsely believed that they were married to Hughes. Perhaps this is why Marilyn Monroe sadly commented: “A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love, listens but doesn’t believe, and leaves before she is left.”

Despite all the cynicism and marital meltdown, North Americans still spend $13 billion on Valentines Day gifts, including 200 million roses, 40 million heart-shaped candy boxes, and $3 billion on jewelry.

We live in an age when many couples wake up with each other, and then try to figure out whether or not they want a commitment.  Given the ambivalent procrastination of our post-modern culture, it is not surprising that some couples are still stuck on the way to the altar even after their second child.  Some want to be completely financially secure first, even to the point of having all the money for their dream Hawaii honeymoon. Without that, they say, marital commitment is just unthinkable.

The biblical position is that ‘true love waits’.  The confusion of our culture does make true love wait, not for sex, but for marriage.  When God’s standards for intimacy are disregarded, the look-alike solutions become more and more ambivalent. Even living together is now seen as too committed by some young couples.  All this leaves many young people jaded and detached, with ever higher standards of who might ever qualify as their future marital partner.

In the movieRomancing the Stone Poster Romancing the Stone, Joan Wilder a romance writer meets Jack Colton who violates every one of her imaginary ideas of what a real man will act like.  Romancing the Stone reminds us that real romance involves the messiness and disappointments of everyday life.  Dr Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, said: “Love cures people, both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”

Eighteen years ago, I wrote a Deep Cove Crier article about Marriage Encounter in which I wrote the following words: “Inside the heart of each and every one of us there is a longing to be understood by someone who really cares. When a person is understood, he or she can put up with almost anything in the world.”  Recently I discovered that those words have now been posted on hundreds of Romance websites  http://bit.ly/35E4or  Why would so many Romance websites be posting my words?

My hunch, as Dr Gil Stieglitz puts it, is that one of the deepest needs of wives is to be truly understood by their husbands.  Many men mistakenly think that this is impossible.  It is our job as husbands to carefully study our wives that we know them even better than they may know themselves.

Dr Gil Stieglitz 2Dr Gil Stieglitz tells us in his video series ‘The Five Problems of Marriage’ that one of the top needs of wives is for romance, to be nurtured and pursued.  Some husbands don’t realize that they still need to date their wives, even after they are finally married to them.  To some men, dating their wives is unthinkable. It would be like trying to get on a bus that they are already on.

Alfred Lord Tennyson romantically wrote: “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.”  Romance is not an option. It is fundamental in any healthy marriage. If we have not been romancing our wife lately, she may be suspicious of our initial efforts. It may feel like we are romancing a stone, a stony heart. That is where perseverance and gentleness are so vital in the pursuit.

My wife finds it very romantic when I take out the garbage and do the dishes. Your wife needs to know that she is the most beautiful woman on earth, that she is a precious gift of God to you.  Romance is saying, like Robert Browning, to your wife: “Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.”

The Great Physician of our souls said: “This is my commandment that you love one another. No greater love has anyone than to lay your life down for your friends. jesus2 The Good Book says that he that does not love doesn’t know God, because God is love.  Pearl Buck the famous novelist wrote: “Love alone could waken love.”

Why are women spending so many billions of dollars each year on romance novels? Largely because there is an unmet need in their life that only you as their husband can fully meet. Your wife is waiting for you to romance her, to win her, to woo her. What are you waiting for?

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