I learned a long time ago that if I pray for patience, I invite trials. But I am just gaining an understanding of what happens when you pray for compassion. You gain two things: a great awareness of your own shortcomings as well as a great awareness of other peoples’ pain and suffering. If I start thinking that I have it all figured out compared to other people, I am soon receive a reminder that I am a beggar before God (Mosiah 4:19). Ah. Now I understand the scripture that pride precedes the fall (Proverbs 16:18).
I’m trying to find a stance in relation to the suffering now made visible before me. As an oldest child, type A, ambitious person, I am tempted to rush in and take over when others struggle. However, I can’t rescue people from the hardships of their lives. If I did, I would be unable to manage my responsibilities to my own family. More importantly, I would deny others the opportunity to claim their own successes. It’s an act of vanity on my part to try to rescue or fix someone else. True compassion means that I support them as they work out their salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord (Philippians 2:12). I can only stand as a witness to the growth they experience with the help of divine assistance.
When my ten-year-old Mary, made the goal to climb Mt. Timpanogus this summer– a trek of 15-18 miles– I promised I’d stay with her every step of the way.
On practice hikes with her brothers, I’d noticed Mary hiked slowly but steadily until she was rushed. When someone insisted she walk a little faster or denied her a rest, she froze, became insecure in her abilities and more than once, turned around and went home before reaching the top. Continue reading
About 15 years ago, I participated in a Ropes Course that included an activity called Lifeline. I was blindfolded and instructed to take hold of a rope and follow it until I reached the end. Then I was to spread my arms and wait. I could see before I was blindfolded that the rope was strung tautly between trees in a dense bit of forest. I couldn’t see where the rope ended, but it looked like it went on forever, in a tangled, jungly mess. Just before I set out, blind, one hand on the rope, someone pressed an egg into my other hand and said, “This represents what is most important to you. Guard it well.”
I had to think quickly. What is most important to me? Family? My church membership? Getting home to God? Yes. How? Trust the Holy Spirit. No. Trust MY spirit.
It felt like a gift, these three little words that apparently were most important to me: trust my spirit. I remember being surprised, but the day had already been so full of Spirit that I was instantly inclined to trust it as revelation. There was no time for cognitive appraisal; it was time to begin my journey. I gripped my egg, which felt wooden in my palm, unbreakable, murmured trust my spirit, and set off into the unseen wood. Continue reading
As Fall flashes her brilliance in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring is showing off in the Southern half – my Instagram feed is full of Autumn/Fall colours and early vegetable seedlings being coaxed into the warming earth. Segullah is also flowering and fruiting with this month’s Journal!
Sandra Jergensen shares her hopes and waning garden, and Kelsey Petersen relates the unexpected fruits of pride and humility. So open your windows to the warm/cool breezes, and open a browser to our October offerings. And remember – we are always looking for submissions!
Picking a pomegranate is not as easy as it seems. That leathery skinned fruit doesn’t cry out to be plucked like a ripe peach or fall from the tree, as figs do, begging to be eaten. No, Israel’s promised fruit must be carefully, cautiously taken. The tree’s branches, with pencil sharp end points, scratch the reaching hand; the price of getting at the shiny, crowned red fruit.
With a tree at my new California house heavy with ripe fruit, I’ve been thinking a lot about pomegranates as I pick and eat my way through more of them in a month than I’ve had in my whole life’s consumption. What was once a special occasion fruit is now a daily reflection and pleasure. I’ve use pomegranates in jelly, juice, smoothies, sprinkled them on salads, in spring rolls served them with roasted eggplant and yogurt sauce tucked into pitas, and always fresh from the peel, as fast as I can peel, out of hand. I’ve peeled and eaten and eaten. Short of the work of peeling, they are they are the kind of fruit I don’t tire of. Perhaps it is the packaging, each little jewel-like aril must be plucked individually, each one a miniature bite of sweet-sour splendid. So much flavor so tightly bound in each bite and so many in each fruit.
Enriching the pungent pop of each little aril, pomegranates bear the depth of religious significance in many faith traditions. They were a promise and reward for the exodus from Egypt, the adornment for temple vestibules and raiment. Their juice bleeding flesh conjures remembrance of Christ’s atonement. Jewish tradition holds that they contain as many seeds as the Torah. A symbol of fertility, the beauty and abundance of their carefully bound seeds signify the continuation and gift of life. Some hold that this biblical fruit was the fruit of our first parents. Continue reading