Sabbath Revival: Eat, Drink, and be Married

Marriage Marriage Marriage. It’s all over the news this week. There are a lot of varying opinions and thoughts on the topic. Today I stumbled upon this post by Brook from July 2007 and perhaps because of my situation right now (divorced, dating in mid-life, trying to know the right choices to make) it spoke to me. The comments were really interesting on the original post, so take a look at them if you’re interested.

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It practically reads like a sonnet, and I can’t get it out of my head:

“The folks have been here today, but have gone to their homes. The clatter of racing feet, the laughter and babble of tongues have ceased. We are alone, We two. We two whom destiny has made one. Long ago, it has been sixty years since we met under the June trees. I kissed you first. How shy and afraid was your girlhood. Not any woman on earth or in heaven could be to me what you are. I would rather you were here, woman, with your gray hair, than any fresh blossom of youth. Where you are is home. Where you are not is homesickness. As I look at you I realize that there is something greater than love, although love is the greatest thing in earth. It is loyalty. For were I driven away in shame you would follow. If I were burning in fever your cool hand would soothe me. With your hand in mine may I pass and take my place among the saved of Heaven”¦.”

I was lying down as I read the latest issue of The Ensign, and had to sit up and read this section from Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners by Elder Bruce C. Hafen and his wife, Marie, aloud to my husband. I felt my throat tighten at its tenderness and intimacy—the journal entry quoted by John Haslem Clark to his wife reading more like a love letter than a record making account.

My husband set his own magazine on his chest, and turned his face toward mine as I read. His reaction was similar to my own, but “That is so true” was almost too trite to say, or “I agree” seemed an unbecoming platitude in comparison to the journaled verse. So he stayed silent for a moment. His blue eyes looked straight into mine as he told me he loved me, and I noticed the week-old beginnings of a beard almost blonde, and offset by a tan from a few days spent by the ocean. I love him so much too—the look of him, his shorn head so soft, his arm lazy across the pillows.

I leaned over and kissed him.

We all want a hand to hold in Heaven, but how lovely the exquisite physical pleasure of an earthly kiss.

Can I trust a Heavenly kiss will feel the same? Or even his hands? Will I miss the tactile feeling of a warm, dry hand that holds on to my own, and brushes stray hairs out of my eyes, and rests on the small of my back?

My husband assures me that Celestial love is something I cannot fathom. I know that. And yet”¦

I have a dear friend who is in love too. She gushes over her beau, of how they laugh and talk of the family they would have, of how they long for more physical intimacy. But he is non-Mormon, and she is confused. Should she commit to him—to marrying a non-member—or just let all this love dwindle? She poses the question all the time. And each time I tell her I don’t know. Is it better to be alone because you can’t fine the “perfect spouse” who fulfills the list of requirements you made 20 years ago in Mia Maids? Or is it okay to have and enjoy the physical earthly love of now, even if it won’t last?

And if everything is made whole in Christ’s Atonement, then why wouldn’t the non-Mormon’s hand to hold turn into a converted hand to hold later, in Heaven?

And what about the people who get married in the temple just “for time?” Is that just because they don’t want to be alone now?

Because what of loneliness? We all know it is “not good for man to be alone.” And even John’s wife Therissa replies in his journal, later:

“Almost two years and a half since the last writing, and it’s following events are so sad, so heartbreaking for this, his life’s companion that this pen has been laid down many times ere this record is made. Loss and loneliness are ever present and will be with me to the end. Will time soften this sadness, will I be able to leave the Old Home and not feel that his is waiting for me, calling me? I am only content at home where I feel that he is watching over me, his presence always with me”¦”

Let it be known, that I would never have considered not getting married in the temple. But I was 19 and didn’t know about life and the way it’s fickle and choosy, and fraught with heartaches like loneliness and childlessness. Am I making an excuse in this seeming concession for my friend? It’s a bit base, I know—but sometimes I want her to know the feeling of sexual intimacy, the feeling of someone to walk through life with, the feeling of a hand to hold, now. And I just want her to be happy. And shoot, if lying next to my husband in our bed (reading our magazines, staring at his profile, feeling the heat of him and the give of the mattress as he moves) isn’t happy, sometimes I don’t know what is.

Teaching the Ideal, Living the Real

I first realized that my parents had sinned when I was about 13 years old. The lesson topic was the law of chastity, and I suddenly thought “if my parents had been keeping the commandments, I wouldn’t be here.” My mom had always told their story in a funny way and I loved hearing about how my parents had met; they had moved in together without telling her family, and one day my grandma came to visit my mom, but my dad opened the door instead. They got married and my mom returned to church activity a few years later. I was proud of her for bringing us to church every week and serving faithfully in our ward, and I loved my dad even though he didn’t come to church with us. During the lesson I looked around at the other girls in the room, including my friend whose parents weren’t members and weren’t married, and the one who had figured out that her oldest sibling’s birthday was only five months after her parents’ wedding anniversary. Our teacher earnestly told us that keeping the law of chastity and saving sex for after a temple wedding was the only path to a happy family, and yet here we were, living in our imperfect, mostly happy families.

Church can be painful sometimes. When I feel pain or discomfort from something said at church, I sit back and think about what the problem is. Often, I’m feeling the prick of conscience that lets me know that I’m not keeping the commandments as best I can. This pain can be a positive motivator to help me change and to feel a greater resolve to become more Christ-like. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I go to church every week—to renew my covenants with God and to learn more about His teachings and His plan for me. Other times, however, pain comes from things that are said that are not in line with God’s doctrine and that are wrong. I hurt because someone has made assumptions about others or about God that are not true and bring about shame. Shame comes when we feel that what we are is wrong, not that what we are doing is wrong. Continue reading

Are There Cookies in Heaven?

bonus3I sit next to the bathtub with an auger, trying to get out what is shaping up to be a phenomenal clog. It’s gross enough trying to get my own family’s hair out of the drain, but here I am working on a clog at someone else’s house. It is a tub belonging to a woman in my ward. As I twist the auger, I think to myself, “I’m just earning a few extra rooms in my mansion in Heaven.” I probably should be happy to do service for service’s sake, but no. I’m pretty nice, but not that nice.

The scriptures are full of promises of what will happen if we stay true and good during our lifetimes. It’s quite a popular topic at my house: what Heaven will be like. We’ll live in mansions, of course. Although everyone’s idea of their perfect house is different, so that should make things pretty interesting.

My children like to ask if there will be food in Heaven. I have to imagine so, because eating is so important in this mortal life. But maybe it will be eating just for pleasure’s sake, not for nutition, since our resurrected bodies won’t need that. Or maybe we’ll have something way more pleasurable than eating by that time. Or maybe we just won’t care. But it’s hard to imagine Heaven without warm chocolate chip cookies.
Continue reading

How’s Your Heart?

heart

“How’s your heart?” he asked. This was not your typical question when receiving a simple calling from the bishop, and I suppose my surprise showed in the form of a soft chuckle and broad questioning smile.

I mean does he really want to know I thought? Or, is it like when someone asks you “how are you” and the real litany of answers stream your brain, and then a simple “good thanks, how about you” spurts out.

I blurted out “ahh good, thanks.”

The question gave me pause. Later that night I took stock of my heart and it felt a little forgotten. I mean, we notice other ailments, stiff muscles, head aches, external worries, but what about our hearts? As I took the time to pray that night I found myself saying that I have some thorny places in my heart.

I remembered how phrases in the Book of Mormon about  planting a seed in your heart, and having the words grafted into your heart, and having the spirit swell within your heart were more a part of me than they had been recently. And it got me thinking about the map of my heart at the moment- the state of my seed and vineyard in my old forgotten, but trusty beating heart.

How is my heart? I started to really appreciated that question. I haven’t been giving people credit for actually caring about the state of my heart. Maybe because I’ve lost site in the routine of life of caring for the state of theirs.

Years ago my grandma had open-heart surgery and the cardiologist warned us that she may not be herself for a while; that the heart had to reset. And sometimes, people were never really the same after having their heart cut. She didn’t speak for a while but her anger at her heart’s betrayal and distant eyes said a lot. She kept her word inside.

In some very small way I relate. Feeling like words are, well everything, and yet so often they are stuck inside burdening the heart.

The thing is, sitting and taking stock of where your heart is, or even asking about someone else’s heart is revealing. It is vulnerable. It means risk. But it also means movement and connection. I think it’s a question Christ would ask.

When the heart beats it means new life. Even when you’re not listening or paying attention it is working for you. When blood pumps through our veins and our face turns red because we’re embarrassed, our heart is working. When we cry our heart hurts with us and with others, we are more connected. When we feel happy and hopeful and full of bliss we let our hearts be light. But sometimes that only comes after red face or crying. Or letting someone fix our hearts.

I sat and looked at the dark sky peaking through my blinds, after praying thinking back to the question “how is your heart”, and thought how all those times I felt my heart dim or break it at least reminded me that my heart was still there. Sometimes forgotten about in the rhythm of life. When I let the soldiers of stress march into my heart and reside, the quite monotonous beats turns robotic.

So how’s your heart? Where are your seeds of hope and faith and life? I’m glad for my little shock of a question that helped me tune into my own heart for the moment. Reminding, that it’s there, waiting for nourishment, gratitude, and bright red beats of being alive.

Peculiar Treasures: Who, What, When, Wheres and Whys

babyelephant

Where love is multiple chairs all around a neighbourhood.

Why you should think again before you wear skinny jeans before helping out for a couple of hours.

How a father’s advice to “Go do something. Even if it’s wrong” leads to discovering his box of shells.

What happens when you take two Smithsonian palaeontologists to see Jurassic Park? “They definitely supercharged the mosasaur and made the pterosaurs way stronger than they would have been in real life.”

Who’s life included a duel, enlisting in the Spanish navy, going to war to defend the pope, getting shot twice, being kidnapped by Algerian pirates, writing about a certain Don Quixote, and finally being buried under a convent?

How “grief illiterate” do you think you – or your culture – are? Here are some clichés and scripture verses you may want to avoid.

When there’s no card or balloons, but “My mother’s dementia gave me the best birthday I ever had.”

When “I fear I’ve fallen asleep on the comfortable couch of ingratitude” – a letter of appreciation.

When there is beauty in bugs – First draft poetry brought gorgeously to us by Melissa Y.

I felt that tickle on my arm this morning,
the one that is either a hair or a bug,
and my hand flashed out,
smashing
before my mind registered the turquoise blue
of the tiny body,
the iridescence
of its wings

and I felt my friend Regret
watching me,
not for the act,
but for my thoughtlessness–
for the instinct to destroy
rather than walk five steps
to the door
and release.

Oh please,
I muttered to it,
I must be reading too much Mary Oliver
and Thich Nhat Hanh
if this dead bug
has invited you into my head.

I should not have to care
about the ethics of smashing a gnat,
dammit!

or wonder why
it was only beauty
that gave me pause–
why an average bug,
equally as crumpled,
would not have mattered

this gnat
should not be worth
be worth a poem

but later,
eating breakfast on the back steps,
another gnat landed
on my arm,
plain black,
and I paused,
inhaled,
and blew it off

here’s the thing,
Regret–
I know myself,
know that I don’t like bugs
crawling on my arms,
that spiders,
and wasps especially,
will never elicit sympathy

but I also want to believe
that what I know about myself
isn’t all there is

that the instinct
(if that’s what it is)
to smash
can be inhaled
and blown out
in an infrequent
mercy

that iridescent wings
can extend awareness
to all the other
ordinary unbeautifuls

and that a thousand crushings
can change in a breath