Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Fail!

What is the proper etiquette when receiving disappointing, disastrous, or even frightening Christmas gifts? Are you able to maintain politeness despite feeling otherwise?

In our family, some are more successful than others at hiding their true feelings. Some wear every emotion clearly and unmistakably on their faces. And I sometimes wonder if we are we more considerate to acquaintances than we are to our families?

I remember one Christmas when, try as I might, I didn't do a very good job of hiding my disappointment over a gift. It was many years ago, when my children were very small. They had gone shopping with their dad to buy mom a Christmas present. We were incredibly short on funds so any purchased gift was a real sacrifice.

I was very excited at the prospect of this gift, especially when I saw the department store box.  New clothes!  I was sure of it, and had been craving something to enliven my tired, sparse wardrobe.

Old. Lady. Clothes! (and I wasn't an old lady then!) Oh my stars. Really? I'm not sure who they thought they were buying for. My heart just sank. Ohhhhhh, how could I try and feign joy and delight when truly what I felt was disbelief and horror? I tried. I really did.


I know I didn't even muster up a tiny squeal of false delight. What a rotten person I was.  I still feel terrible about showing my true disappointment when I knew how proud my family was of their gift for their mother. What should have I done? Politely smiled and put it away in the back of my closet? We couldn't afford to do that.

What did I do? I returned it to the store and replaced the gift with my choices from the year-end clearance sale, all the while knowing that my selfishness and pride had wounded some hearts that day, hearts that I loved and cared for more than any others.

I wish I could have handled the situation with more grace. I wish I would have been more sensitive to my family's feelings, knowing how excited they were to give.

I wish they hadn't picked out such ugly clothes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Not Dead Yet!

My mind has been turned to things of eternity.  I have been thinking about potential; I have been thinking about my life's mission; I have been thinking about where I am on the timeline of my earthly life.  It was driven home with resounding power, as I was sitting in the temple, that as I approach the mid-century mark I am far from being done with my life's work.

Seriously, in all practicality, I could very well be merely halfway through my life.  Then why do I sometimes feel that I am nearly ready for retirement?  My children are grown, life as a full-time mother has abruptly changed with a nest that is pretty empty.  I have been reminded that I still have a lot of living left to do, and more importantly, I still have a lot of learning and contributing and refining to do, with probably many years left ahead to do them in.

What does this mean then?  Does it mean that I resign myself to the aches and pains that are knocking at the door?  Or does it mean that I must meet this conqueror with a full-battle attack?  Do I let myself become old, as is threatening, or do I reclaim my youthful health by trying a little harder?

If I am, perhaps, only halfway into life could that also mean that I still have hobbies left to discover and to perfect?  Does it mean that I still have thoughts to think and dreams to imagine?

I choose to think that I do.  I am reminded of a popular phrase from Monty Python, (surprisingly) which proclaims:  "I'm not dead yet!"

From a more expected source, I have also been inspired by the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who recognized that he too has a lot of life left in him.  In his essay entitled Experience, he contemplates the threads on the loom of time, and the picture they paint of our life's work.  He wisely admits:  "I know better than to claim any completeness for my picture.  I am a fragment, and this is a fragment of me."

So, even though sometimes I feel that I have seen it all, and done it all, and feel very smugly wise in my "old" age, I truly am but a fragment when compared with what I am capable of.  I do not know even half of what I should.  I have not served and blessed enough of God's children to have begun to repay my great debt to a loving Heavenly Father.

The world is full of opportunity.  What a gift.  We have also been given a gift of time:  "And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh..." (2 Nephi 2:21)

Our days are prolonged that we might finally figure out all that we must know and all that we must do.  What a gift.

I'm not dead yet!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Left the Woods

Why do we let ourselves forget?  Why do we become so focussed on distractions that sidetrack us from our ultimate goals?  We have so much potential to think and to do and to explore and to find and to wonder.  Why do get muddled down in the quagmires of mediocrity?

Life is not meant to be static, nor stagnant.  And yet, once again, I often find myself wearing footpaths into the soft and impressible earth that used to seem fresh and new.  Some daily habits are good; many are tired and exhausting and worn out, and their repetition puts us on a treadmill that goes nowhere.

"I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there." 

I return to Thoreau.  I find refuge in Thoreau's thinking outside the box.  I identify with his impatience with the status quo and his desire for freshness and new challenges.

"Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one."

"...how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity."

"...if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpect in common hours."

The common hours.  The expected.  The ordinary; the run of the mill; the unremarkable.  THAT is not good enough.  I want more.  I believe the seed was planted in me to expect more.  And hopefully to achieve more.

"He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary."

What am I ready to leave behind?  What lies beyond that self-imposed invisible boundary? What is preventing me from expanding my capacities?

"He will live with the license of a higher order...."

I think I am ready to move out of the "little shack in the woods".  It has been an important place.  I have learned much and reconnected with my past.  I have felt validated and cared about.  But it has become stifling and monotonous. It threatens to be consuming and common and commercial.  I cannot spare any more time for that.

I am reclaiming my time and my dream.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Beginnings

New Beginnings.  How many times in our lives do we get to have them?  I assert that we may have new beginnings whenever we choose.  This past week we experienced an anomaly on our calendar, with the unusual and singular occurrence of 11-11-11.  Did anyone else look at all those ones and see new beginnings?  I did.  I saw those ones representing the starting line of something great.  They signified to me new directions, new goals, new definitions.

I don't know if anyone else shared those feelings with me, but that is okay.  Perhaps I was the only one who felt ready for some changes.  Perhaps only I am in need of stepping out of a few ruts and trying a new path.

In my personal study lately, I have pondered the idea of becoming a "new creature," as promised by a return to the Savior through the power of His Atonement.  Paul taught the Corinthians: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17)

"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers." ~ Scott Peck

Here is to new beginnings.  Here it to stepping out of ruts.  Here is to the nudging of discomfort or unfulfillment or disappointment, whichever is successful in helping us find ourselves in our finest moments.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

A fascination with flight!  The history of man is filled with it.  Who hasn't had that dream of being able to fly like a bird, over the tree tops, surveying below a miniaturized world?

Brian and I walked through the dream of flight last Saturday at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.  It is a remarkable collection of man's earliest attempts, his most colossal attempts, and his most powerful attempts.

I can't believe this extraordinary collection exists so near us, and yet it has taken us this long to see it.  We enjoyed it a lot.  We marveled at the development that has taken place in a relatively short amount of time, much of it within our own lifetimes.

If you ever get the chance to see this, I highly recommend you take it.  There are two separate museums, one for Aviation and one for Space; there is an IMAX Theater with breathtaking movies, and there is even an indoor water park.  No kidding.  So next time, we're bringing our swimsuits.

Monday, October 24, 2011

If I Could Hie to Kolob!

Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?  This is not an artist's rendering.  It is not someone's active imagination.  This is the real deal.  This is a glimpse into the far reaches of our universe.

And it is stunning.

This is just one example of the images captured on the Hubble Telescope that has been in orbit for twenty years.  And I got a first hand look at the story behind this amazing tool, which has helped us take a glimpse into space.  On Saturday, Brian and I went to McMinnville, Oregon as our destination, not to simply drive through it on our way to somewhere else.

We went to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, one of the highlights being the Hubble 3D movie which we saw in the IMAX Theater.  I know much of the impact came from being in that incredible environment of  intensified sight and sound, but I was mesmerized.  I was completely engaged, with all my senses awakened, including my spiritual eyes.  I knew as I watched evidence of stars being born that creation was being documented.  I literally saw matter being organized.

If you could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye?
And then continue onward with that same speed to fly,
Do you think that you could ever, through all eternity,
Find out the generation where Gods began to be?

Or see the grand beginning, where space did not extend?
Or view the last creation, where Gods and matter end?
Methinks the Spirit whispers, "No man has found 'pure space,'
Nor seen the outside curtains, where nothing has a place."

The works of God continue, and worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression have one eternal round.
There is no end to matter; there is no end to space;
There is no end to spirit; there is no end to race.

There is no end........

 I feel so humbled to be part of the creation portfolio of a loving Father in Heaven.  I couldn't stop thinking about how, amidst all of this splendor, God values and loves me, and counts me as His child.

We're part of something great here.

William. W. Phelps 1792-1872

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Want to Be a Finisher!

Are you a finisher?  I didn't ask if you were a starter; I guess that is a topic for another day.  Right now, I am fascinated with the idea of being a finisher.  I have never lacked for ideas of things to begin.  I love imagining all the projects that I might do, yet I am also the first to admit that sometimes I struggle with finishing all the things I set out for with great intentions.

I am presently faced with a monumental task that might give way to my losing interest, but I am determined to not let my deficient attention win this time.  Just because the fun part is over, I MUST keep wading through the less-than-interesting details.

I am fine-tuning the manuscript of my book preparing it for publication.  I am aligning the formatting with the publisher's requirements.  I am editing footnotes.  I am preparing the reference list to submit for a copyright permissions request.  So. Much. To. Do.  Literally.

I don't know why I thought all these things would be magically done by someone else.  Naivete', I'm sure.  It all falls upon me.  It isn't very glamorous, or very fun, or very exciting.  But it is advancing the progress of my book.  That is exciting.  That is what I need to focus on.  Each step of the journey is important.  Every detail counts. 

I'm getting a glimpse at what real editorial work is like.  I'm certain I prefer the creative side more, but they go hand-in-hand.  One can't exist without the other.  This is what separates the men from the boys.  This is what separates the authors from the wannabes.

I want to see this through to the end.  I want to endure the process.  I want to dot all the i's and cross all the t's.  I want to be a finisher.

I am a great starter.

Now is the time to be a finisher.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dream Until Your Dream Comes True

I knew it would be great.  I suspected it would be very fun.  I imagined what it would be like with my entire family dressed in costume, reuniting with Miranda, wandering the streets of the Magic Kingdom with trick-or-treat bags at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Oh. My. Stars.

It was outrageous.  It may have been one of the craziest, funnest, most memorable nights of my life.

The fun had begun with the planning.  As the mother, it once was my responsibility to plan everyone's costume for Halloween.  Now that my children are all adults, I am merely a facilitator, helping them pull together their own ideas.  I trusted that they would each have a great concept.  They did.  Some let me in on their plans; some chose to make an entrance with surprise on their side.
Some attracted a lot of attention. 
Some had little boys coming up and wanting to feel their muscles.
Some had little girls coming up thinking she was a real princess.  (Really? C'mon, really? It must have been too dark for them to see the wrinkles...)

My only regret was that my energy drained out long before the party was over.  Grumpy and I had to resign ourselves to a bench in front of the castle, watching as all the merrymaking went on around us.

It was extravagant.  It was an extra expense, requiring extra planning and packing to bring costumes in our suitcases.  Was it worth it?

Every penny.

Dream on, dream on, dream on.  Dream until your dreams come true.....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wherein lies thy Desire?

Or in other words, what do you really want?  That is the remarkable thing about life.  We get to decide what is most important to us; what we want to put our energies behind; what, indeed, are our priorities.  We really do.

Sometimes it seems like others claim our attention with their desires, that we really aren't our own person, that our priorities are replaced by what others want.  Not so.  Ultimately, our choices lead us based upon the very underlying of our ultimate desire.  Do we want a happy family?  One that loves us as much as we love them?  Then our desires are to serve them and help them to find happiness.  Period.  We lose ourselves in service.  So no complaints.  Right?

How are we using the time we have been given?  Do we make false claims that we never have enough time to do what we really want?  If all of our wasted minutes were combined, I believe we would realize that we have ample time to make great accomplishments.

Then we really have no room for blaming others, for blaming the consequences of our situations, for coming up with empty, lame excuses.

I was reminded yesterday of a great quote from a Shakespearean play,The Merry Wives of Windsor:
"....the world's mine oyster, which I with sword will open."

No one can lay claim to our lives.  They are ours.  Ours to beautify, to accomplish, to embellish, to live.  What will we choose to do?  Which path will we take?  What, ultimately, is our desire?

How exciting, how thrilling, how empowering! 

We can timidly open that oyster to seek the treasures it holds, or we can boldly, "with sword," strike it open with enthusiasm, eager to chase the rainbows that are before us.

No excuses.  No hesitation.  No timidity.

That is what I am going to do.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bless Your Beautiful Hide!

Inspiration comes in the most unexpected places sometimes.  I have been inspired by a piano player.  From Jackson Hole.  Who accompanies a summer show at a playhouse.

In June, Brian and I took two of our daughters for an overnight trip to Jackson, Wyoming.  We wanted to celebrate Jackie's graduation from Massage Therapy School.  Part of our celebrating included tickets to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Jackson Hole Playhouse.

The lights dimmed for the show to begin.  Stragglers found their seats. Quietly, and with no fanfare, the piano player took his place at the instrument to the far right of the stage.  He had a little piano light, a ringed notebook bulging with music, and more talent than I have seen squeezed into one person in a long time.

His music was a joy to hear.  Effortlessly he coaxed it out, setting the tone for the show.  The overture was filled with the memorable melodies of this longtime favorite .  His cowboy boots contributed to the building sound, banging out the time on the pedal.  It was sweet when the music was sweet; it was raucous when called upon to be raucous.  I was enchanted.

Then a month later, I had the opportunity to be in Jackson Hole again, and to share this fun discovery with more friends and family. 

Our tickets to the same show this time around put us two rows directly behind my old friend, the piano player.  Ah!  Now I could follow along in the dim light, as he would quickly turn from page to page.  It didn't take long to realize that his fingers were playing significantly more notes than were actually written.  The fluorishes were his own doing.  The simple chords on the page were skillfully broken into arpeggios that ran the length of the keyboard.  Wow.  I was mesmerized.

So, all summer long I have been humming along.  And whistling along.  And singing along to these delightful songs.  Until I decided that I just had to have the music so I could play along as well.  It didn't take a trip to the music store.  It didn't take searching online, ordering the book, and waiting for it to arrive in the mail.  I simply searched it, paid a little money, and then downloaded and printed my own copy.  It took all of about ten minutes.

While I could never rival his expert, graceful playing, I have thoroughly enjoyed trying my hand at June Bride, Wonderful Day, Lonesome Polecat, Going Courtin', and of course, Bless your Beautiful Hide.  When no one is around, I even try to channel my memory of him and fancy that my clumsy efforts sound almost as good as his.  Almost as good as that amazing, humble, awesome piano player that finds fulfillment in a small theatre in the heart of the Rockies.  Now that's inspiring.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Got Oil?

We never really know what may lie just around the corner.  We never really know what challenges we may meet, and what they will demand from us.

What we can do is to follow the counsel given in the Lord's parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25.  These women found themselves, either foolishly unprepared, or calmly ready for whatever came their way.  There is such wisdom in keeping our lamps trimmed and burning.  There is such wisdom in returning often to the sources that refuel our oil supply.

Throughout a weekend which held much of surprise, I watched my husband, who was prepared, calmly accept a new assignment to serve the Savior.  It will be demanding.  It will be challenging.  Yet I have observed, from the vantage point of a wife, the past few months as the Lord has blessed him with the tools he would need, including improved health and strength.

I am thankful for his willingness to serve.  I am thankful for his kind and loving heart.

I am thankful for the oil in his lamp.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Where Can I Turn for Peace?

Turmoil.  It is a part of life.  It is like a muddy boot stepping into a clear, running stream, churning up the muck and mud from the bottom.  When life gets cloudy and cluttered, sometimes we are our own worst enemies by continuing to stir up more debris.

The best solution?  Be still.  Be calm, and let one's heart return to a state of clarity.  Put oneself in a position to listen to the whisperings of the Spirit which otherwise can't be heard above the roar of the crowd.

The best place to do that?
"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple."  Psalms 27:4

Photo credit:  Portland Oregon Temple by Lynn Howlett Photography

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Anniversary of an Ordinance

I wasn't very old.  In fact it was 40 years ago, exactly, that as an eight-year-old, I was guided toward my best decision.  Today is the 40th Anniversary of my baptism.

My bishop had counseled me to make note of the date so that every year I would be able to look back and remember.  I was startled this morning when I did the simple math, and realized that so many years had passed.

We remember key moments in our lives, and this was a significant event.  Perhaps at the time, I didn't completely understand the full weight of this experience, but I did feel that I was following the Savior's example and that made me feel important.

Though we lived in Lander, Wyoming, we had to travel to the Riverton Wyoming Stake Center for the baptism.  Seated in a long row with the other children waiting to be baptised, I vividly remember feeling quite self-conscious.  We were all similarly dressed in white baptismal suits and mine had some type of stain on one leg.  Carefully I sat with my hands covering the imperfection.  I wondered if it would still be all right for me to get baptized in a suit that wasn't spotless.  Should I mention it to someone?
In the years that have passed, I have learned much more about this important and necessary saving ordinance, and I have actually thought about that conspicuous blemish that bothered me as I entered the waters of baptism.  Part of Baptism is its ability to cleanse and purify all of those blemishes that are not always as conspicuous. 

As I arose out of the water, my silly preoccupations were replaced with peace, knowing that at that moment, I stood without spot, without blemish, without sin, before my loving Heavenly Father and that He was pleased with my decision and my action.

Years have passed, and I am still honored to be part of God's Kingdom on earth.  It was a good decision.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Turning Hearts

I love the scripture that speaks of the prophet Elijah turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.  I get it.  I feel it.  I believe it.  Family connections should be foremost in our lives and should be our greatest source of happiness and strength.

Mine are.  I am overwhelmed with the gratitude I feel toward my family.  My parents have given me a legacy of love and faith, and I am trying to pass that along to the next generations.  It's my job.  And I take it seriously.
My energies are spent in bringing this bunch together as often as I can.  We have a lot of fun and look forward to our little circle expanding exponentially.
Thanks for the joy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Finding Common Ground

What is the most attractive thing about someone?  Is it the brilliant blue of their eyes?  or is it their strong, broad shoulders and rippling muscles?  or is it any number of things that society touts as hallmarks of beauty?

To me, these are merely distractions.  I believe the most compelling trait in someone is the common interest we share.  Do you care about enough similar subjects to hold effortless conversation with me?  That is when friendship becomes easy.  That is when you could talk for hours without running out of things to say.  That is when you don't want to be the first person to hang up the phone. That is what builds the pathway to love.

Years ago I met an incredibly handsome man.  And he was, indeed, a man; not a boy, not a young man; I found myself utterly attracted to the fact that he seemed very mature and assured and ready to tackle the world.  At first glance, it would seem we had nothing in common.  He grew up on a ball field, or a ball court, or a ball diamond.  Me?  Don't you throw a ball at me!  I will not be able to catch it and will invariably end up hurting myself or someone or something else. 
He was the life of the party, effortlessly making all around him feel comfortable and important.  Me?  I was shy and insecure and awkward.  I was more at ease in a library, surrounded by friends that leapt from the pages of books.

So what could we possibly have to talk about?  Well, we did like to ski.  And we did like to go to church.  And we did like to laugh.  And we did like chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

These were the beginnings of our common ground.  It didn't take long to discover that we shared the same goals of family; the same interest in great books and ideas.  I read the great books.  He had the great ideas.

And most importantly, we shared a love of our Savior, and a desire to follow Him.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ equipped us with the tools to learn patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and unconditional love. 

That was all the common ground we needed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wait! Can I Try That Again?

How many of us get a "do over"?  How often do we imagine what we could have said, or what we could have done if we could relive an unsuccessful moment, trying to improve upon its outcome?  Perhaps that is why I am drawn to a certain silly movie.

Through all of Bill Murray's lovable outrageousness, there can be found at the heart of Groundhog Day a remarkable idea.  What if we could try and try again until we get the day right?  What if we could fine tune our actions and our words and our reactions?  What if we could tweak the little things we say, the nuances with which we say them, and the level of service we offer to our neighbors? 

Unlike Murray's character in the movie, Phil Connors, who deals with no consequences from the previous day's mistakes or triumphs, we must live with the fallout from our yesterdays.  Are we learning from them?  Are we taking the time to review what is working and what isn't?  A little self-analysis is invaluable if we allow ourselves to correct our course and try to improve.

My daughter, Miranda, finds herself in a unique situation of getting do-overs, again and again and again.  As a College Program Cast Member at Walt Disney World, her assignment for the next five months is to be a Skipper on the Jungle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom.  This is a unique opportunity to perform the same script, over and over, to new captive audiences every ten minutes.  She also has the freedom to make it her own by inserting her unique personality and her astute observations.

Imagine being able to gauge your performance by the audience's laughter.  Imagine being able to throw in new material to the tried and true jokes, to change it up a little, to banter with the hecklers.  I cannot imagine what I would do in such a situation, nor can I comprehend the courage it would take, nor the grace, nor the poise, nor the mental agility.

And yet.  It does come with the chance to have do-overs, always perfecting, always improvising, always experimenting.  Just like Groundhog Day.

And I suppose, as in the movie when Phil Connors finally gets it right, when Miranda does have the perfect day with the perfect audience, doing and saying everything just how she would like, perhaps then it will be time to move forward, to come home, and to try something new.

Good luck, Sweetheart!  We think you're amazing!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Summer of Cupcakes

They're everywhere, aren't they?  There are bakeries that specialize only in cupcakes.  There are TV shows devoted just to cupcakes.  For some reason, cupcakes have become the little darlings of the treat world.

I'm a fan.  To me, few things are as irresistable as a perfectly baked, perfectly iced little single serving cake.
I have been perfectly willing to get on the bandwagon and join the trend, and my family seems to have been willing as well.
While my granddaughter was staying with us, one afternoon was devoted to cupcake baking.  I'm not sure if my motivation was the delicious results, or the photo opportunities.  Either way, they were both very sweet.
What's the perfect thing to do while you're waiting?  Dance Party, of course!

Last week, while all of the family was at the beach, Jackie suggested we have a Cupcake War.  No throwing was involved; just seeking for bragging rights for having baked the best cupcake! 

I was overwhelmed with the creativity, the effort, the teamwork, and the mess!  But mostly I loved the beautiful, yummy results.  Thanks to all for the memorable birthday treats!
We had cupcakes that resembled cups of cocoa, and Titleist golf balls.

We had cupcakes that explored a variety of flavor profiles.

And we had some whose mastery and expertise simply couldn't be denied.  I am hereby declaring Jackie's delectable peanut butter and chocolate masterpiece as the winner.  Sorry, guys.  You know her's were the best!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Birthday Tears

They are supposed to be happy days.  Joyous days.  Full of fun and family and cake.

And mine usually are.

I also have had birthdays filled with bittersweet tears.  Like this year.

Somehow, it seems that monumental days for my children happen to fall on my birthday.  In 2005, it was the day that my only son entered the Missionary Training Center to begin his two-year mission for Jesus Christ.  It was a day filled with pride, and joy, and heart-wrenching sorrow.  Try as I might, I could not smile through the tears.
This year was a similar experience.  On my birthday, my youngest daughter flew to Florida, checked into the Disney College Program in Walt Disney World, where she will live and work for the next five months. It was a day filled with pride, excitement, and anticipation.

And it was another tearful good-bye.  Another attempt to be brave while having my heart torn out.
I think, overall, I did pretty well holding it together.  Well, except for that one time.

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to......

Monday, August 8, 2011

Trailing Clouds of Glory, Do We Come

Children are a miracle.  We think we have so much to teach them.  When the opportunity comes along to spend a little time in their company, the real miracle is in realizing what they have to teach us.

I learned this recently as my husband and I took care of our two-year-old granddaughter for ten days while her parents vacationed in Hawaii.  Never once did we think that we weren't getting the best end of that deal.  She was a joy to be with.  We began seeing the world through her eyes.  We began looking for moo-moo cows in the fields along the road.  We began to simplify, slow our pace, and practice making animal noises.

In other words, we rediscovered the joy of living.

I was reminded of the lovely poem by William Wordsworth as I looked at this priceless photo of my granddaughter sitting at the feet of the Christus statue in the Idaho Falls Temple Visitors Center.  As I look in her eyes, I realize that the Savior is someone she already knows, already respects, and very well may still remember.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come 
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

These words may be the most oft-quoted part of the poem, Ode, Intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood, and they are powerful, but there is another passage that resonates with me just as strongly.

THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell'd in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

How easily we lose sight of the wonder in simple things.  How hardened and pessimistic and distracted we become as we strive to eat our bread by the sweat of our brow.  Life isn't meant to be a cakewalk; we are here to work, and yet I can't believe that a loving Heavenly Father doesn't intend for us to look upon His creations with the freshness they deserve.  How quickly we lose the wonder, the joy, the gratitude.

Thank you, my sweet Evelyn, for teaching your grandma.  Thank you for the light in your eyes and your reverence for sacred things.  That wasn't taught to you by the inhabitants of mortality.  It was taught to you by angels.

Thank you for being our little angel.