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Sacred Service and Sacred Receiving

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It goes both ways at the Hawk's Nest

Working at my desk was difficult. Every breath was a wheeze. My overflowing sinuses were pushing a dull pain behind my eyes which did not stimulate any creativity. I let my head lay back against the chair for just a minute before getting back to work.


Suddenly, a live weight landing on my lap startled me awake. TC, for “The Cat,” had just landed. She crawled around for a while on my legs and belly before she got back up on to the desk and started walking on the keyboard. All I had the energy to do was watch her words appear on the screen.


I decided not to tell anyone which parts she wrote and which parts I wrote.


For a week I had been dealing with a bug that came in out of the cold, and had taken up transient residence in my system. At least, I hoped it was transient.


It was one of those times when I needed to allow rest to take priority and let Linda take on more of the home load.

I sometimes refer to it as Sacred Receiving, the opposite of Sacred Service yet equally important. It is not easy for me but she is more then willing to help a little more while I heal.


One thing she insisted on doing while I rested was chopping and bringing in wood for the fire.


We both enjoy our wood heat and the effort it takes to maintain it. We feel it is cheaper then a gym membership yet helps us stay in shape without leaving home and we have shared fun.  Who chops wood is more dependent on who’s in the mood or has the time to do it, just like the cooking, dishes and laundry.


I’m getting better at letting that happen without threatening my manhood. I’m better at letting her chop then I am at letting the cat do my writing. But sometimes, when energy and creativity are lacking, I take advantage of the cat’s willingness to help. 


Not only do we see our desire for a warm home through wood as an exercise program, it is also therapeutic. We call it “Woodshed Therapy.”


The other day I was doing some Sacred Receiving and letting Linda take on the heavy work as I rested in my recliner. What “letting” really means here is, I allowed myself to let her chop wood while I recuperated.


I could hear the thumps of the splitting maul hitting the rounds, as I drifted in and out of reality, sometimes not sure which was which.


Our dog announced there was someone coming down the road and I looked up. It appeared to be a stranger but when they stopped I got the impression it was a group of folks who seem to find us a few times each year. They are always pleasant, not pushy about sharing their beliefs and they never stay long so it is easy to be kind. We thank them for thinking of us and let them know we need to get back to our project. They hand us some inspirational readings and leave.


On that day I figured Linda could handle it and I stuffed my feeling of needing to be manly and out chopping with her. Soon the thumps resumed, but it seemed to be a little louder and faster.


 Finally, I heard Linda on the porch. I couldn’t receive any more, so was getting up to help bring in the split fuel. As Linda came through the door I saw a bit of a fire in her eyes. I asked how our visitors were and the fire brightened.


“Do you know what she asked me? She asked if I been put out there to chop wood!”


I ventured a question “What did you say?”


“I told her I like to chop wood, I like the exercise and I like the therapy.”


I doubt if they got the therapy part. Now I understood the fire in her eyes as well as the overloaded sled full of wood. That was one of those times when doing a little Sacred Service turned into Woodshed Therapy.


I did my part to help bring in all the wood knowing there was plenty for several days as I healed.


Wood Shed Therapy is another benefit of doing our own firewood. It gives us more heat while releasing whatever needs to go. One day Linda came home from a day on jury duty. She believes it is her duty to serve in this way so had no problem when she got the letter. On this evening, however, as she walked up to the house I saw that fire in the eyes.


Her first words to me were, “I need to chop some wood.”


I knew I didn’t want to get in the way of that process. I could have said we have plenty, or I could have said that dinner was ready or I could have said you look tired but I knew she needed a serious therapy session so I said nothing.


After about an hour I walked toward the shed, dodging wood splinters zinging into the darkness and watching out for flying pieces of cordwood. Cautiously I walked into a blue haze of words, holding a glass of wine at arm’s length in front of me. I asked if she was ready for a little Merlot yet. 


It seems there had been a highly trained medical professional getting an enormous fee by making statements for the record. Linda, also a highly trained medical professional, believed deep in her professional heart that the statements were absolutely false, but as a member of the jury she could say nothing and was instructed to make a decision on what was heard in court, not anything else.


By the time she got the frustration out of her system we had several days of wood split and stacked on the porch. With that much wood there were no more therapy sessions for several days.


Now I’m feeling much better and not letting the cat do any more writing for me. The transient bug has apparently moved on. When Linda called I heard that distinct, nasally bass sound. She had been doing some receiving as she was serving and now was home to that transient bug. Now it’s my turn to practice Sacred Service while she does Sacred Receiving and recovering.


All this service and being served, this giving and receiving, this helping and being helped are what contribute to a balanced partnership. It’s not scorekeeping, but caring and loving.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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