When We Love Someone Who Never Was

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I dreamed I was in an open meadow with a blanket of wild flowers. The light from the distant sunset made them glow like colored sea anemones. I was walking through them carefully, not wanting to break a single stem, when a pain hit my heart. It was so strong I fell to my knees and started wailing. I cried out her name over and over. I could not stop. The pain came in waves and my jaw ached from letting out the cries that only a bereaved Mom could understand. I woke up terrified and bawling, aching to hold my daughter.

There was only one slight problem with this dream…I never had the daughter I was crying for. She never showed up. After a short two years of an infertility scare, I was blessed to have three sons and a daughter. Then, we decided to try again. I knew there was another girl waiting to be with us. I felt her everywhere. I saw a vision of her in the temple. I knew the color of her hair and those soulful eyes. I would glance at my children around the table and feel her absence. I was impatient. We tried. We waited. We prayed. We considered adoption, but it never seemed right. My youngest is almost ten years old and this girl never came. Eventually, her strong presence faded and the space in the family dinner table filled in as children’s bodies grew into teenagehood. The absence was accepted —
Until the dream was dreamed…when the gaping hole opened up and I fell in with a deep enough love that can crumble a body.

Is it possible to love someone who never was?

Can we still love the absent father? the ignoring mother? Can we love the friend who sets the appointment but never arrives? How about the man you were “supposed” to marry who never appeared on the scene? Can we love through the letter that never came? the waited-for apology? the boy whose car never pulled into the driveway? Can we love the husband who forgets again the birthday or anniversary? the past-curfew teenager who we wait for in the dark? the answer to a prayer that never seemed to be heard? the child who chose not to be born? Perhaps the answer can be found in another question: Can we love our dearest friends who sleep on while pain racks our body so that we bleed onto the garden floor?

The heart is a resilient thing. Tell us your story of how you loved the person who never was or the thing that never showed up.

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Reevaluating Scouting

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When my fifth son was a tiny newborn we ventured downtown. Everywhere I went those days, people counted my little boys, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5!” and offered a variety of comments both kind and cutting. But I’ll never forget the lady who counted the boys, asked, “Are you LDS?” and on my affirmation exclaimed, “Oh no! All those Eagle projects!”

I laughed, but didn’t understand her words until several years later. It should be noted: I love and adore mothering my five boys. I would have happily taken a sixth– but the paperwork! Oh! The paperwork of Eagle projects.

Boy Scouts possesses it’s merits. I love the principles of service, love of the outdoors, faith and personal responsibility. My sons have had incredible leaders; men and women of character who taught/teach them real skills and values. But it’s also a program marred by huge expenses, bureaucracy and questionable ‘skills.’

I’m thrilled to hear of the church’s resolution to reevaluate our relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. Our leaders are insightful men and women, if they choose to leave the BSA, I know our church can create something so much better. Continue reading

Favourite: Sheer Stubborn Perversity

The image that started it all…

This past week my Facebook and Twitter feeds featured the above picture of daisies.  Most of the related clickbait headlines or comments were practically glowing with panic and horror, like “Japanese radiation deforming flowers!”  “Contamination mutates nature!” “Flowers, fruits and animals suffering years after tsunami-caused nuclear disaster…” “I think these are GMO flowers #seriously #eatrealfood #gmoisdeath #coconutwaterislife”  (these aren’t real quotes, just general summaries of ones I saw).

After a quick click or two to check that the flowers had apparently been photographed in the area claimed, I stopped reading the wheezing, shrieking pieces that went along with it. But I found myself thinking about the photo every day.

I LOVE those little flowering champions!

Stubborn: adjective stub·born

: refusing to change your ideas or to stop doing something

: difficult to deal with, remove, etc.

In the face of all sorts of challenges, that plant just got on with living. Deliberately, stubbornly pushed its roots a little deeper down, in order to better stretch for the sun. Then, using its inbuilt DNA and resources, flowered.  In spite of changes in radiation levels, not being in a nurtured garden, it just got on with life.  And not only did it manage one flower, but several, and in bold and surprising ways.

Perverse: adjective per·verse

: wrong or different in a way that others feel is strange or offensive

Of course, humans freaked out because all the flowers weren’t normal – some were weird, perverse, wrong looking and not how they were meant to look, at least according to the people freaking out online. I’m betting that flower doesn’t know, doesn’t care, and (unless one of those pesky humans has come and dug it out or cut it up) it’s still there, photosynthesising away, flirting with the bees and hoping for rain. Continue reading

Peculiar Treasures: Looking Forward, Back and Inside Out

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How’s your week looking? How was your weekend? We’ve gathered some links for you to consider while you go forward or linger a little closer the week that was.

For a wonderful proof of magic and music being there if you look for it, check out how some birds resting on a power line became a wordless song.

If looking for your first pioneer is further back than yourself or grandparents, as in a pioneer ancestor who crossed the plains, this website may give you insights and information you never knew about them.

Looking at the women in the scriptures, we have two links this week.  First, this quick list of 5 women called prophetesses in the Bible. A good list to think about, seeing as The Exponent is holding a Midrash short story contest – which is calling for short stories about the lives and back stories of women in scripture.

Depression changes what is seen and felt, even what we know we know. This post links eleven posts, podcasts or talks from people of faith about holding faith close in the dark.

Looking at google images for decades hoping to find her birth mother’s face, read how a DNA test and Facebook lead to success.

Do you watch what you say? How’s your “vocal fry” or “upspeak”? This podcast discusses linguistic tics and habits (such as apologising in general conversation and other quirks found mostly in women) and the effect it may be having on individuals and the wider community.

Our first draft poetry is by Lara, inspired by the previous podcast.

Google was that number we talked
about in math class, the word texting
did not exist, and now they’ve
decided the way women speak is weak—
too unlike the push and shove of a
man’s moving linguistics so it is

us who must change, taking the
curl of our sympathy, the whisk
of our peacemaking and smooth of
our comfort
out like the stain
of oppression is all in the way we say

I love you
the way we build or decompose,
but butter and Crisco are not the same
thing, sweet creates a different kind of
potato, and there is a reason Granny Smith
is best for pies—

I’m good with repentance, with changing
hearts, with adding nuts to your mother’s
mother’s recipe,
or taking them out, I just can’t get my head
around the need for me to speak and think

and breathe like a man, in a man’s world, in a
shirt too big for me,
in suspenders to keep up his pants,
when I’m a woman and my skin
and my words—even when I tell you
you’re beautiful on the outside

and your dress is cute—
those words fit me just fine,
taste good without
substitution or correction.

Sabbath Revival: “The Dirt and the Glory”

I’m embarrassed by the fact that my yard is dead. I mean, if it weren’t for a variety of non-grass weeds growing in what should be lawn, there wouldn’t be any green at all.

I live in the desert, it’s July, and not only is it expensive, but I feel a certain amount of guilt pouring potable water on my yard when so much of the world is in a drought. I mean, the church has even stopped watering the lawn at the LA Temple. Despite UT not mandating water reduction, I take solace in the fact that my yard is in good company.

Yet that doesn’t keep me from feeling, like Justine does in today’s Sabbath Revival post from October 2006. Anyone else feeling this way?

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Do I need to have a beautiful garden to get into the Celestial Kingdom? Am I compromising my eternal potential if I have more weeds than pansies?

Seriously. I’m really not kidding.

There are so many gospel true-isms in gardening. The law of the Harvest. The value of hard work. You reap what you sow. Adam and Eve were cast out to overcome the thorns and bristles. You name it, you can somehow apply it to dirt.

And so it is, as I stare at my garden, I wonder. We had wonderful tomatoes and pumpkins this year. We managed a few raspberries and strawberries. But really, we planted those berries in the hopes they would “take-over” and reclaim a weed infested area. We kinda hoped the pumpkin would do that too. It didn’t.

Melissa Young wrote a piece for our Spring 2005 issue, “The Garden of Eaten”. I could so thoroughly relate to her frustration that it was comforting to know I was understood. But even Melissa has the most beautiful flower beds in the whole of Cache Valley.

So here I am left to wonder why I can’t seem to keep anything alive. Those dang people at the Nursery where we shop, they must love to see us. We buy plants, we plant them, we water them, we wonder at them, we watch them slowly wither and die. We’ve done it a hundred times.

If I can’t keep plants alive, if I can’t manage to keep weeds out, how could I possibly be entrusted with the glory of the Lord? Is this a stewardship kind of issue?

The pattern of poor gardening is so brimming with good intentions, I often feel those intentions should power my garden through each summer. Spring comes, and brings with it the hope and promise of a new start. We plant. We weed and water and fuss faithfully for weeks.

Then it gets hot. My very earnest and honorable intentions are tested. They are pressed up against the heat of the day, the sweat of my brow. I waver. I falter.

By July, everything is usually dead. The vegetables that are lucky enough to be planted in the path of the sprinklers feebly live on, but all else slips quietly into the great beyond. Even those plants still living are encased by bazillions of weeds. Intentions, somehow, have failed me.

I, during these times, feel strangely bound for hell.