Winnowing the Harvest
It's the sweetest little graveyard on earth, a quiet spot off a side road surrounded by trees, casually maintained, with mowed crabgrass as a tough groundcover alternative to the pampered lawns of city cemeteries.
I come today to Overisel Cemetery to bury my father and will come again someday to be buried here myself. The modestly-sized gravestones bear familiar names—Immink, Folkert, Koopman, Wolters—my Sunday school and catechism teachers, uncles and aunts, neighbors who applied discipline liberally and fed me sugar cookies warm from the oven, who offered their barns, fields, and creeks for exploring, and who, with their calloused and tender hands, shaped me and sent me into the world.
As I stroll past these stones, I wonder, who are we, really? To what extent does our genetic makeup define us? How do grace and opportunity determine our path? How much do our family and community of birth influence who we become? Is it possible to pull up our roots and move on? How far can we go without losing some core part of what grounds us?
Overisel's soil is rich for farming—for the oats, wheat, and corn my father sowed, tilled, and harvested. This rural village is also a fertile place for cultivating a powerful work ethic, fervent and often unquestioned faith, and a commitment to careful stewardship of one’s gifts and resources. It’s a stronghold of conservative politics. Generosity and caring for one’s neighbor and community are central values. It’s a place that invests in education, seeding doctors, teachers, scientists, musicians, missionaries, and ministers and transplanting them in distant soil.
Sifting through and winnowing this cultural harvest is an ongoing and dynamic process in my adult life. I tenderly honor and celebrate treasured traditions, beliefs, and values while discarding others as useless and irrelevant chaff. Time and again, I spin new threads of knowledge and understanding that, woven with the old, create an ever-stronger fabric, rich in texture, color, and design.
Certain questions haunt us when we lose someone we love: What from our past is essential to keep and savor? What do we cast off? What do we create anew?
These are questions to ponder in our lives, in our work, and in our leadership. These are questions that matter.
RUTH / LEADERSHIP / CULTURE / Aug 15, 2011, 7:57pm / Comments (0)
The shooting rampage. The economy. The heat. The debt ceiling. The Cubs. It seems like we live in a time of extremes. How do you stay grounded and centered?
At THINC, we often work with clients dealing with turmoil and change. As consultants entering the fire, we aspire to provide a steadying, non-anxious presence.
The following is my favorite writing from Deng MIng-Dao, a Taoist writer. It comes from his book 365 Days of Tao. Perhaps it may offer some insight to our/your world.  
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Fire cools.
Water seeks its own level. 
No matter how extreme a situation is, it will change. It cannot continue forever. Thus, a great forest fire is always destined to burn itself out; a turbulent sea will become calmer. Natural events balance themselves out by seeking their opposites, and this process of balance is at the heart of all healing.
This process takes time. If an event is not great, the balancing required is slight. If it is momentous, then it may take days, years, even lifetimes for things to return to an even keel. Actually, without these slight imbalances, there could be no movement in life.  It is being off balance that keeps life changing. Total centering, total balance would only be stasis. All life is continual destruction and healing, over and over again.
That is why, even in the midst of an extreme situation, the wise are patient.  Whether the situation is illness, calamity, or their own anger, they know that healing will follow upheaval.
    Deng Ming-Dao
DEV / CHANGE / HEALING / Aug 3, 2011, 2:35pm / Comments (0)
Ideas worth sharing.


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