All posts by Rosalyn

About Rosalyn

(Prose Board) currently lives in Southern Utah with her husband and three small children, where she teaches writing part-time at the local university. She has a BA in English from BYU, and an MA and PhD (also in English) from Penn State. She served a mission in the Hungary Budapest mission. In her spare time (what's that?) she likes to read, write, try new recipes (as long as she doesn't have to clean up), watch movies with her husband (British period drama is her favorite), go for walks, and generally avoid anything that resembles housework. Her debut novel, THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, comes out fall 2016 from Knopf.

Healing the Wounded Heart

The last few weeks have been difficult for me (for many of us, I think): I have wrestled with the new church policy, cried watching footage of the bombings in Beirut and Paris, and the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis has wrung my heart.

I’m not here to offer pat answers or solutions–I don’t have them myself. But I did find a tender mercy this past weekend in the form of a member of my bishopric, who asked me to give a talk on finding peace through the Atonement. The process of preparing that talk reminded me of some truths that I needed, and would like to share here.

Sometimes peace through the Atonement comes as we rely on repentance and forgiveness to heal the wounds we’ve caused through our own mistakes.

But sometimes–often–such peace comes purely gratuitous, as an act of grace.

Continue reading Healing the Wounded Heart

Bearing (with) Children

During the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference, I found myself driving my children home through rural landscapes mellowed by fall, flecked with amber and crimson. We listened as we drove, and it was pretty near perfect: my heart slowly filling as the milIMG_0333es unspooled before me. (To be honest, I probably got more out of the talks this way, with my three year old buckled into a car seat, instead of climbing all over me).

Then Elder Holland started to speak. My reaction at first was purely intellectual–I’ve always been fascinated by semantics, and I caught the significance of “carry” and “bear” almost at once. But then he said, “no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.” My throat constricted, and not in a good way. By the end of his talk, I was blinking away tears.

Let me say that I love Elder Holland. Some of his talks have been anchor points for me in my life, and I know many women needed to hear what he said. But all I could think was, if my mother-love approximates God’s, we are all in big trouble Continue reading Bearing (with) Children

Making Room at the Table

In the last week or so I’ve witnessed two friends’ vastly different experiences with acceptance from other members of the LDS church. One, who sometimes posts about controversial topics on social media, was told by someone who does not know her personally, that she ought to simply leave: the church would be better off without her. The other attends sacrament meeting with a same-sex partner and wrote of being welcomed by the ward and uplifted by Sunday meetings and worship services. It seems clear to me which response is motivated by love.

On some level, I understand the instinct to push away things that threaten us. Certainly, I’ve found my own faith shaken after confronting ideas that radically conflicted with my beliefs, and I understand the fear of negative influences on me and my children.

But I also know that at a low point in my own life (in the MTC, ironically enough), when I held my doubts to myself because I was afraid of poisoning my companion, I nearly lost myself. It took an inspired sister to bolster my faith and remind me that we are weaker when we are alone. I’m forever grateful that she didn’t see my doubts as a threat, but as a call for help.

I like to think there’s room at the gospel table for everyone—especially those who are seeking a place.

Julaftonen av Carl Larsson 1904.jpg

Continue reading Making Room at the Table

Favorites: Unexpected Acts of Kindness

A little over a week ago, on an otherwise unpreposessing Monday, I opened my email inbox to find a wholly unexpected gift card for a book.

Four Elkhart Institute Ladies with Book, undated (11467224905).jpgIf you know me at all, you know that books are some of my very favorite things in the world. Even better than chocolate. (Heresy, I know). Sometimes even better than my kids. (Shhh. Don’t tell them I said that. Though of course I love my kids, sometimes it takes a good book to revive me enough to return to the parenting fray).

My morning immediately took a turn for the better, and I spent the rest of the day musing over the perks of an unexpected kindness. There’s something wonderfully validating about finding yourself in someone’s thoughts, for no reason other than that they care about you. Continue reading Favorites: Unexpected Acts of Kindness

Heading to the Mountains

“I don’t understand why people think flowers are so pretty,” my nine-year-old complained.

I’d just told him that after our Saturday morning chores, we were heading up the canyon to a nearby national monument, where the wildflower festival was in full swing. Apparently, this was not good news to my son.

We went anyway, winding up a narrow canyon road beneath grey skies. I marveled, as always, at the sheer gold and ochre cliff-faces, the way the entire landscape transforms less than ten minutes from my house.

Our destination was breathtaking: both the wind-and-water carved canyons, the hoodoos, the alpine meadows full of wild-flowers. We hiked through an alpine forest, bluebells and lupine crowding the narrow path, white columbines shining like stars against the dark green pine.

Going into the mountains nearly always lifts me: something of the weight of everyday falls away from me as the elevation climbs. It helps, too, that out of cell-phone range, my usual distractions are virtually non-existent, allowing (forcing) me to stay in the moment with my kids.

When I come down from the mountains, I seem to see with newer eyes. And if I’m not fully eager to enter back into the routines of daily life, at least the routines don’t seem so onerous. (Caveat: I mean temporary retreats: somehow camping more than a night or two leaves me more grumpy than rejuvenated).

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why natural spaces speak to me–to us–so strongly.

Some of it, of course, is in the way we learn to see and read landscapes, particularly in America. BYU professor Gregory Clark, in his book Landscapes in America, describes the way Yellowstone was framed in early pamphlets advertising the park, to help visitors to the park experience it as a uniquely American experience. Similarly, art historian Simon Schama argues that we are culturally predispositioned to see landscapes in certain ways.

We’ve inherited—consciously or not—the nineteenth-century American enthusiasm for wilderness. According to Schama, the nineteenth-century view of nature overturned earlier generations’ belief that the eastern forests were a sign of evil and refigured wilderness as something sacred and holy. William Cronon suggests that this reversal came about partly through the confluence of romantic notions of the sublime and the frontier: sublime landscapes were a place where one might meet God, and the frontier was viewed as a place for national renewal. Yet, as Cronon points out, wilderness is also very much a cultural creation.

As LDS culture, we revere mountains, which stand akin to temples. We cite Isaiah 2:2, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” We look to a long history of prophets who went into the mountains (Moses, most notably) and emerged transformed.

Under the twin religious and cultural influences, it’s impossible for me to go into the mountains and see anything other than sanctuary. Understanding some of the framework for my experience helps me analyze my reaction–but it doesn’t fully explain it.

I’m not certain I want a full explanation. Sometimes, it’s enough to go into the mountains, wander through fields of flowers, and simply enjoy.

What places move you? Where do you find “sanctuary”?