To be honest, the last couple of weeks have been a rush: stress piled on top of illness (nothing exceeds the generosity of a toddler sharing his cold), and just as I’m catching my breath, the holidays are upon us.
There’s a lot I love about the holidays: friends and family and food. And a lot I don’t love: navigating expectations that never quite match the reality, the physical details of travel, trying to maintain some semblance of schedule for my order-loving oldest son.
It’s easy, for me at least, to get caught up in the rush and to mumble through the things I’m grateful for because it’s part of what we do at Thanksgiving.
But at church yesterday I was reminded–again–why gratitude isn’t just one more activity to do at Thanksgiving, but something I need daily. Continue reading
The first time I really thought about Alma’s advice to his son Shiblon about passion–“bridle your passions, that you may be filled with love”–it was in the context of a seminary lesson on sexual purity. And for years afterward, I assumed that was all there was to know about this scripture: physical passion is a good thing, in moderation.
But lately I’ve been coming back to this scripture and wondering if there isn’t more to it. The quarterly theme for Segullah is passion, and thinking about passion in a broader context has me rethinking Alma’s advice.
The red rocks of Capitol Reef loom over us, at once imposing and fragile, the sandstone fragmenting in oddly symmetrical sheets.
We’ve come to Capitol Reef many times in our marriage: for us, it’s come to represent a place of refuge and retreat, a place for family renewal—and a place for grief.
I’m convinced that places have memories (the battlefield at Gettysburg, for one. And the sacred grove). Beyond that, I believe that places have a significant dimension in our own memories. The Romans, who were among the first to study ars memoria, or the art of memory, called the mental storage places of memory loci, the same root in our word location. Memories take place, both literally and figuratively.
Driving into Capitol Reef on the fringes of a thunderstorm in mid-September, all the linked memories of the place come flooding back to me, forming a kind of spiritual palimpsest over the rock and sage landscape. Continue reading
Like most avid readers, books aren’t just a side-note in my life, a mild but harmless diversion. Instead, books often become the backdrop against which I live my life, the questions facing characters raising themselves in unexpected ways in my own life.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this bookish lens. A couple of weeks ago, I read Rebecca Mead’s fascinating, My Life in Middlemarch, a hard-to-classify book that is part biography, part memoir, part literary history–and all about the transformative power of George Eliot’s Middlemarch. In it, Mead describes how reading this book at different times in her life changed the way she saw herself.
I think we’ve all experienced something of the way language transforms our lives, and the lens through which we view ourselves, particularly with scriptures. But I find it happens with other literature too. Continue reading
Confession #1: I love Jane Austen.
Not quite to the heights of Austenland’s heroine, but still.
In graduate school, I took a course on romantic satire that included a unit on Jane Austen, which began about a month into the semester. That first day, while the dignified middle-aged professor and our male peers looked on in shock (I assume we’d seemed reasonably intelligent and dispassionate to that point), I and a few of my female colleagues went full-on fan-girl about Jane Austen: high pitched voices, fluttering hands, the whole bit. I’m not sure I ever quite regained that lost credibility.
I own at least two copies of her major works. (My husband, in the throes of newlywedded bliss, bought me the entire Oxford Illustrated classics set and set my giddy heart reeling). I’ve even read her unfinished novel, Sanditon, and her short epistolary novel Lady Susan, and own books like The Friendly Jane Austen, Becoming Jane Austen, and What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew. (And yet, I’ve never been to a Regency ball or joined JASNA).
Confession #2: Sometimes I’m ashamed of my addiction.