Flying Wood Chips – A Short Story

A boy sat quietly next to his father as he watched wood chips fly. His father’s hands were almost a blur as the ax gracefully moved over the log. To the boy’s amazement, the beak of a huge bird was beginning to take shape right before his eyes. The wings were beginning to look real and magnificent with every swing of his father’s ax as it carved more tiny feathers. His father wiped his face and took a long, deep drink of the cold spring water the boy had brought him. The man’s eyes never wavered once as he gazed at the loving yet calculated way the transforming piece of wood looked and felt.

“What do you see, Father?”
His son’s voice startled his father. His eyes rapidly focused as he smiled while saying;

“Look here, my son, and you will see the spirit of the wood. To create these great totems, I must first become one with the wood. Tools alone won’t set the images free. Look here at the grain of the wood, see how it moves throughout the wood? Feel it, let the wood speak to you. It would be best if you let the spirit in the wood tell you what to do next. For me, to make the next cut, I must be gentle. I just barely cut the surface, or the beak will crack. Can you feel it?”

The boy’s tiny hand lingered on the log for quite some long time as his father watched in silence. Finally, the boy nodded as he said, “I feel a tiny river of energy flowing through my hand. It tickles. But if I push down too hard, it stops.” The father smiled and nodded to his son. With a smile in his heart and on his face, he picked up the knife and began to carve again.  After a few moments, his father said:

“Tools are important. I must care for my chisels and keep them sharp and free of rust. I must learn what my tools can do, how to use them, and how to care for them. But my most important tool is in my heart, where my spirit lives. My mind cannot guide me; it sees an image and forgets to listen. Then the wood breaks, and I must start all over.”

“My son, you must learn to listen to your heart. Listen when your heart tells you about life. Listen when it tells you to let go or move on. Listen when it tells you it is time to stand your ground or when it is time to go beyond your mind’s fear and change. Your mind will run from change; it will run from fear and in the running leads you into greater fear. Learn to listen to your heart, my son; it is the most important tool you will ever have.”

The boy quickly asked, “how do I learn to hear my heart, Father? So often my mind fools me, I think I am listening to my spirit only to find it’s my mind filling me with its lies.”

His father quickly shared that “first you must learn how to listen, my son. Listen to the wind, feel the rain, walk in the woods, and ask nature to teach you. Practice humility, practice saying “I don’t know.” The mind always knows the answer, it always knows what’s right and what’s wrong, and it will always have an opinion.”

His father’s voice was silent for a few moments as he put away his tools.  Some time passed until he said: 

“Son, the mind usually lies. Just as it took me time to learn how to use this chisel, learning to listen to your heart will be a journey. Discipline and dedication with a sincere desire to listen to your spirit will set you free. The human heart has a quiet, gentle whisper. It reminds you of your perfections and talks to you in the language of love.” However, the mind is sometimes more like a crow; loud, bold, and raucous. It reminds you of your limitations and why you can’t do something. Its language is fear. “

“That is why my son, I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers his fear.”

Amen – Dr. Deb



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