Meet Calvin Wulf
I grew up in Fresno, California surrounded in vineyards planted by my grandfather, Peter, and his cousin Andrew. Yes, he would be Peter Wulf, and even though the vines they planted are more than 100 years old, they still yield a sweet harvest. My grandfather also contributed substantial financial and sweat equity to build a German speaking church for our rural community.
My father inherited the main house and vineyard along with other properties. Our home was the house where he grew up and the place where my father and mother celebrated their wedding. My aunts and uncles inherited my grandfather’s other vineyards, and so it seemed that my family lived and farmed all over that region of California’s San Joaquin Valley.
My grandfather and grandmother passed along a heritage of hard work and Christian faith which I inherited and have lived out on my own journey. My father taught me how to tend the vineyard and made sure that I was at church every Sunday. So whenever Jesus talks about vineyards and harvests, I am right there.
Early God Encounters
How lucky is the little boy who grows up with acres and acres of dirt around his home where he can play? A lot of my early childhood was spent outdoors playing in dirt and mud. I remember looking up one morning from my road building project and seeing Jesus standing there just outside my tiny construction zone.
Little boys are too young to realize that seeing Jesus would be considered a big deal to adults. So I talked with him just as he talked with me. I recognized him and I felt safe with him. Then he was gone. I remember the event very clearly, but I don’t remember what was said. Sometimes I wonder what that was all about. Whenever I ask, Jesus is not forthcoming. He does more or less assure me that I am doing fine.
I remember a very different God encounter during those early childhood years. My mother took me along to visit one of my aunts. While they talked, I was kept busy with a Popsicle. When my mother was ready to leave, there was something in another room that my aunt wanted to show her. Of course, I became quickly bored looking at her fancy whatever it was so my eyes began to wonder around the room.
There it was on the wall, an engraving with angels and other heavenly figures. At the top it read, “God is Love.” Below that, The Ten Commandments were depicted as they were carved in stone. I thought it was the most wonderful thing I had ever seen. I chattered on and on about how much I liked it that my mother told me I shouldn’t be begging for it, you know, the way children sometimes do. But that wasn’t the case. I was simply overwhelmed by its beauty and message, another early encounter with God.
Working the Vineyards
Growing up on a farm has other advantages besides playing in the dirt. I also learned how to work the vineyards and whenever you work, there is bound to be someone who is willing to pay you. Most of the work in my father’s farm was part of the household chores. But once the harvest began, my father paid me for my work.
When I got a little older, other people asked me to work for them as day labor in their vineyards. They often seemed surprised by how much I could get done in less time than they expected, so they were even willing to pay me extra. I usually had more money than I could actually spend, living in the country and all, with no place to go.
But there was a warp in my soul that did not weave well with the threads of farming. I was different and it seemed that everyone could tell. I often felt awkward, out of place, disdained. So one night when I was in bed, I promised myself that I would work on good grades at school, attend a fine university, and get as far away from my father’s farm as a good education could take me.
My parents agreed that I could apply to the University of California at Berkeley and if I were able to be admitted there, they would pay my way. My route may have been a bit circuitous, but I made the grades and I was admitted. That was my ticket to something better.
The Corporate Years
I was one of those lucky students who graduated from Berkeley with a job in the field I had been working toward, corporate labor relations. Negotiations fascinated me. Resolving grievances sharpened my negotiating skills. Arbitration gave me the experience of arguing cases and writing briefs. For me, anyway, that was my true warp and woof in those days.
During those 20 years of corporate life, I was married, had two children, and in the end I wound up with major clinical depression. If that were not hard enough, my wife of 15 years decided to divorce me. When it was all over, I decided to do what other people had encouraged me to do all along, and what I really desired inside. I gave up the corporate career to enter full time Christian ministry.
A few years later, I fell in love with Lisa and moved to where she lived in Colorado. We knew that we had a calling to very similar ministries, with complementary interests and spiritual gifts. So we were married and founded Living for God™ in 1999.
I studied theology and spiritual formation at the Colorado Springs extension of Fuller Theological Seminary and was ordained to the ministry of Jesus Christ. More recently, I have taken vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and prayer as an oblate with the contemplative Order of Julian of Norwich.
I enjoy feeding our backyard birds, gardening, hiking, and I still feel exhilarated by the beauty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.