Tag Archives: hope

Lessons from Easter Mourning

Sleepy Hollow CemeteryIt’s hard to mourn on Easter Sunday.

I sat last Sunday listening to General Conference hearing the story of the Greatest Consolation Ever, listening to alleluias, smelling lilies…with red eyes and a broken heart.

The news of my dear friend (I’ll call him “Job”) and his out-of-nowhere tumor/sudden surgery/aggressive cancer/grim prognosis was fresh and raw.

This Easter I was incapable of engaging with the lofty notion of victory over the grave, with death that has “no sting.”

And, as if I weren’t feeling abysmal enough, I almost felt guilty for not being able to engage and rejoice.

Aren’t I a believer?
Don’t I affirm Life with a Capital L?
What happened to the faith I’ve been robustly building for decades now?

I say I almost felt guilty. And then, when I went a few minutes without weeping or being weighed down in loss, I almost felt guilty for not being sad enough. Didn’t I owe Job that much?

This is not the first time I’ve confronted death, grief and loss. I almost feel guilty about having to go through all this sorrow again. One would think my past encounters could have, what?…built up a callous? Enriched me so deeply that I would always and only be infused with faith, hope and celestial perspectives?

I know those tropes, and I see their ruses.

Would we expect someone who has just had a limb savagely ripped off not to scream or cry or react?

Any loss like this – the death of a friend or a failed relationship or a betrayal of some kind – is an emotional injury with its own messy versions of ripping, shredding and bleeding. It has its own ways of sending psychological counterparts of white blood cells to the injury to help, protect and heal it.

It also has its own time frame.

I’m now edging past the emotionally oozing stage, but that could change with any new downturn. This is, I have learned, how grief goes. Each occasion offers us our own convoluted Way of Grief.

Besides this most wrenching news about Job, within the last month I have been inundated with dark news about other friends’ calamities/fragile marriages/lost pregnancies/health crises. Yesterday I witnessed a dog get run over by a car. It’s too much.

We have covenanted to “mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those who stand in need of comfort.” From my unfortunately fresh perspective, I offer some practical bits that might help develop those skills.

1. Allow grieving people (including yourself) their messy progress. Offer them your love without judging them or hurrying them. This is a real boon in times of sorrow.

2. Sometimes words that you think might provide consolation – like the promise of eternal life – sound too lofty to grasp right then and only emphasize to the mourner the immediate loss of the intimacy, vivacity and presence of the dying loved one. On the other hand, to some grieving people, these can be very soothing words. (so see #1)

3. Small gestures of consolation can mean a lot. Sometimes these mean more than words.

4. Don’t expect the person facing death (or an uncomfortable future) to console you. They have enough to deal with already. Be as loving, supportive and present (even if not physically) to them as you are able and as they allow. Accept (and give) the grace and help of your fellow mourners – but don’t ask it of the mourned.

Because I have traveled this desperate route before, I’m convinced I will not always be on the verge of tears. I will not always carry this current burden. I will not always identify closely with these lyrics:

“Swift to its close, ebbs out life’s little day. Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away.”

I believe I will again want to sing:

“Lives again, our glorious King! Where, oh death, is now thy sting?”

Hope, Expectation, Love, and Agency

HopeIt doesn’t matter if you’re eighteen, twenty-eight,
forty-five, or seventy-three, the truth is at every age, there are simply Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know.

We learn a great deal from personal experience and through the experiences of others, but no matter how wise we are, we still have blind spots in our awareness. And sometimes those blind spots play a major role in the decisions we make, for better or worse.

One of my blind spots has been understanding the difference between hope and expectation, and how these two characteristics affect how we love others and respect their agency.  Continue reading

Making Your Calling and Election Sure

I’ve been stewing about this blog post for weeks, because I mean it to be provocative. I want to write about one of our most important Mormon doctrines, but it’s a topic that seems to be shrouded in a cultural taboo, like Heavenly Mother or polygamy. They used to sermonize about having your calling and election made sure a lot more than they do now. “They” being our church leaders. It was a naturally accepted piece of doctrine back in the days of Joseph Smith and the early saints. I imagine that every alert saint was keenly aware of whether or not they had personally been sealed up into eternal life by the Holy Spirit of Promise. I don’t know that we later latter-day saints give it much thought or attention anymore. But maybe we should. Continue reading

Passion: Stoking the Embers


I’ve been to a wedding celebration. The bride and groom were delighted in each other, and obviously oblivious to most of what was going on around them. They held hands during speeches, whispered to each other, had that unconscious radar tracking and alignment to wherever their beloved happened to be if not in arms reach, and a stunned awareness that they were finally married.

It was beautiful to see, such hope and passion and excitement sizzling between them. The bride and groom danced, fingers Morse-coding messages against hips, lips, faces, the first couple yet again to discover the hum of passion and sparking delight.

It was also beautiful to see the seasoned couples at my table, each laughing and murmuring to each other as we swapped jokes and conversation between announcements and courses. The full, smiling attention of a wife to her husband as he gave a speech, the gentle clasp of hands under the table after a joke, the sharing of dessert, a wife repeating unheard words into a whiskered, tilted ear.

There was the roaring, emerging flame of a love recently created and newly sanctified before us, and the enduring, patient embers of experienced passion gathered around to celebrate and bear witness. I warmed myself, the bride and groom leaving bright spots of joy before my eyes, while the sincere heat of the settled couples soaked deeper in, warm air stirring up ashes as I returned home.

You can’t have a conversation with the empty half of your bed. You can pretend, but it’s not the same as having a hand available to hold at three o’clock on the morning, just a finger’s stretch away. I remember the fire and sparkle of new passion, the way a first kiss becomes a language in a story yet untold. It’s a giddy time, tripping along heart beats and held breaths, all excitement and discovery, but it’s the embers that I miss.

The embers, those ruby throated coals, which have danced and thrilled before in the flash and burn of passion and delight, when all is youth and beauty, lace and enthusiasm, and have survived to catch a breath. The breath and tumble that comes with kids, or career, or both, with the frantic, shuddering bellows of watching a parent die, or burying a loved one, and holding on to each other and your breath in the same terrible moment. The embers, looking dark but billowing heat, grown from putting the lid on the toothpaste for the seven thousandth time, and distracted conversations, and pillowed laughter at midnight and arguments in the car. Embers that grow as thick and deep as lava, from loving another impossible, incredible, bizarre individual every single day even when and especially when they drive you crazy and they – for some deep, fathomless reasons – love you back even when you’re your real cracked and fragile self.

There’s the obvious, dizzying flash of heat, the sizzle, the unsteady grab for balance and air of early love and attraction, but the sustained, deliberate power of established, active passion and mutual compassion leaves it as dust. In each of us there is a light that cannot be hid, a desire for warmth that never goes out. May we all ignite, burn and coalesce into enduring, sincere passion.

What does passion mean to you? What words do you use to compare new/old love and passion? What do you do to appreciate (stroke) and build (stoke) your passions?

…because right now maybe we can benefit from Chieko quotes and some LOVE NOTES

"Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish? Who, who can understand? He, only One." from "Where Can I Turn for Peace" by Emma Lou Thayne

“Where is the quiet hand
to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.”
from “Where Can I Turn for Peace” by Emma Lou Thayne

When my husband Chris and I were dating he sent me a love note with this observation of my character. He wrote, “You are always striving for excellence and never quite attaining it.”

Happily, I knew already knew that Chris was a very literal person and what he probably meant was something more along the lines of “You do ambitious things with enthusiasm and still want to improve beyond that.”

But Chris’s first version was right, too. I know I am incapable of doing things quite as well as I hope to do them. All of us who are disciples of Jesus, if we are honest, are in the same predicament. We make covenants – and we’re still not as “excellent” at keeping them as we’d like to be. Continue reading