Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Iron Wedge

Tami texted this photo to me today of Josh in Primary. According to the kids, a song was attached to each article of clothing and as children came up, they would put something on Josh and everyone sang the song attached. Excellent! I wasn’t sure how Primary would go this morning because there have been tears each week thus far and while we sat in sacrament meeting he said over and over, “I not a Sunbeam!” From the looks of the photo, he’s finally is.

Maybe one less drama but boy it really never seems to end.

There was a point when I thought having lots of boys and just one girl would mean very little of it. Not even close.

This morning Kenny came into our room to tell me Sam threw a velociraptor at him. I’m familiar with the velociraptor in question and it would’ve hurt. I talked to Sam about it and he said, “He’s always mean to me!” With further questioning I learned that Kenny was sitting on the couch minding his own business while Sam thought about something he’d said to him a few days ago. It seems obvious that this isn’t how we should handle things but I’m not five so what do I really know about obvious?

This morning Tara and her husband gave talks about forgiveness. They were particularly good and worth the effort it took to hear them. It seemed that the children were in rare form this morning. Tami said she didn’t notice it and it made me wonder if your hearing is amplified the more children you have. But that doesn’t sound right. It should definitely be the opposite. But anyway, excellent talks. When Tara spoke she read this story:

“Forgotten Wedges”

By Samuel T. Whitman

The ice storm that winter wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents along the highway. Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage.

The story of the iron wedge began years ago when the white-haired farmer, who now inhabited the property on which the tree stood, was a lad on his father’s homestead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley, and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about.

On this particular day, the lad found a faller’s wedge—wide, flat, and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings. A faller’s wedge, used to help fell a tree, is inserted in a cut made by a saw and then struck with a sledgehammer to widen the cut. Because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way.

He truly meant to, but he never did. The wedge was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree. Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came.

In the chill silence of that wintry night, one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once-proud tree remained.

Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss.

Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. ‘The wedge,’ he muttered reproachfully. ‘The wedge I found in the south pasture.’ A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing, edge-up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.

I think I may have laid a wedge in my own branches not so long ago. Or did someone else lay it there and I just haven’t taken it to the shed? I don’t know exactly. For as long as I can remember I’ve had this philosophy. That when people behave toward you in ways that feel wrong or even in ways that are just contrary to anything you’d consider, cut your losses and accept the situation. Don’t confront profanity. Don’t try to change people. I recently heard a quote from Maya Angelou that put that sentiment much more eloquently:

"The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them."

There are plenty of situations when that makes sense but I suppose the trick is to not leave the wedge in your branches. There are so many horrible ways that wedges are created but I think in my case the wedge was not placed there maliciously. Probably the person didn’t even realize they were putting it there. And yet what they did was so contrary to anything I would have ever considered that every time I think of them I feel the wedge. My eyes narrow and I fume. My “fibers” aren’t knitting together as they should and truly, I’m only hurting myself.

I really need to pull this thing out.

I saw an excellent example of this last night through a little boy drama. Kenny came home late in the evening after spending the night and day with his best friend. At first I didn’t even know where he was but his friend’s mom (and my dear friend) told me he was upset and ran upstairs. Uh oh. I went to talk to him but he was curled up in a ball in bed and would say very little. Double Uh oh because this is his best friend and his mom is one of mine. Man, I hate drama.

We had friends over at the time and while we were visiting, the phone rang. It was his friend. Very upset and wondering if they could be friends again. Kenny immediately said, “Yes” and it’s over. I guess that’s the thing about boys. Unlike the one in the story, they tend to haul the wedge to the shed sooner than the girls. Or is that just a stereotype? I don’t know.

Tara read 3 Nephi 11:29-30 and it brings the whole problem of contention and drama back to this single point: It’s not of God.

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

So. Drama, drama, drama. How to teach my kids to avoid it and how to teach myself the same. One more thing to figure out.


  1. It was so cute to watch Josh today. He seemed to be having a good time and was really into it. He is a sunbeam! :) Cynthia

  2. Wow! What an amazing story. We can all learn from Kenny's example. What a great kid!


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