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Doubt Dented Familiar

By Kellie Purcill

I hope it doesn’t dent your faith too badly. I re-read the words. Again. I taste relief and exhaustion against my lips, and the screen goes blurry when I try to see Marnie’s message again. I hope it doesn’t dent your faith too badly. There is a deep, quenching kindness in allowing doubt. When battles …

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God’s Arithmetic

By Kellie Purcill

I’m glad God isn’t Yoda. There’s no way I’d survive the ‘do or do not, there is no try’ version of mortality, let alone attempting faith and the stagger back home. I’m not trailing clouds of glory, but sighs, exhaust(ion) and crankiness. I think I’m failing life’s math class. As a student who resents any …

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Guest Post: Sneaky Satan Tree Root

Satan is tricky. And a stinkhead. And a deft manipulator. He can take a good thing and twist it into harm. In fact, it’s because of that old trickster that King Benjamin’s admonition to “watch yourselves”¹ has taken on new meaning to me.  I used to think it was a “Watch it!” kind of watching; …

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A God-Shaped Hole

By Kellie Purcill

There’s not a big difference between holy and holey. Just a little swirl of ink, to look at it on the page. The difference grows more pronounced in real-life, though, more clearly defined in terms of the bits that are missing, the shine that is muted, the fatigue drooping the edges, the decided lack of …

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Seasons: The Death of Easter

By Kellie Purcill

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Middle of nowhere, the Snowy Mountains, Australia, 1980s: The incense wallows out of the rocking censer, curling heavenwards with our Hail Marys and sneezes. My priest loves Easter, eyes practically closed in adoration and prayer, his saggy cheeks rocking in time with his slow cloudy shuffle around the altar.

“Reckon he’ll hit the corner again?” my brother asks, hopeful and bright eyed amid the pious and bored faces. “SHHHhh” I hiss, trying to convince God that I do believe, that He can do many glorious things, and I’m not even asking for wine or someone back from the dead, I just want to go to a boarding school.  Father Caston presses ashes to my forehead in the sign of the cross, and within the hour mass is done and we’re home again. My brother’s ashes didn’t last ten seconds after application, my sister tasting hers and shoving me when I raised my judging teenage eyebrows. My ashes stay on until I shower the next day, hoping that my outward devotion will be extra credit to my prayers, to my utter, desperate hope that my will is His will. It’s not.

Another Easter, this one wrapped in an early, hungry autumn. I walk in fog to and from church, the tip of my nose thawing in time to drip during communion. All the talk of new life and light seems callous when we’re descending into the loss of heat, a whiny wet winter, wearing coughs as scarves and give up walking around puddles.  Easter is more about autumn, about death, the aching cold of the grave, a time of tears and fog it seems; the promise of an early spring, an eventual scorching summer, a glorious rebirth and resurrection are too far distant to be anything but useless, more a slap on a sunburnt shoulder than a soothing relief.

I look to God for answers, for relief, and find…. Nothing. Nothing for years, until two guys named Elder knocked on my door one freezing winter night, dripping rain onto my carpet and flooding God’s light into my life. It’s been nearly 20 years since that storm, with countless smashings, leakings, gluts and refillings of my meagre store of testimony oil. I’ve burned fiercest at my most desolate moments, sputtered through average weeks with not a catastrophe in sight, still always reaching out for answers, relief, and comfort from a God I have mostly learnt loves me for me, in a very personal way.

But every Easter I struggle.  The gorgeous earth I live on is going dormant, the beauty fading, the weeds and prickles cantankerous under foot, and the light is going to fade. The flowers have died and despite over three decades of experience showing the daffodils and heat will return, (“Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again” says the faithful, Catholic, covenant-heavy refrain) but what if this time, not?

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Scarcity and Prayer

By Kellie Purcill

119HThe answer came as a little rectangle of paper, a few lines printed across it, nothing else. As answers to prayers went, I was decidedly underwhelmed.

I sighed, and scrunched my eyes a little tighter to squeeze whatever other clue out I could get.

A little piece of paper, some empty lines… and a smoothed lead pencil. Ah… recognition. In response, a blink type effect, then two names are there, carefully pressed into the paper. My ex-husband’s name, and his wife’s.

I am not a god of scarcity.

Huh. I ended my prayer and rolled into bed mulling the answer over like it was a loose tooth.

I’ve been wrecking myself against some significant decisions lately. I’ve had the stresses of starting a new job, beginning the second year of my degree, my youngest has started high school, and my oldest is in his final year. I’ve come home some nights late in the evening, to the assorted messes and heavy slumbering heat two teenagers can make, and wondered just what on earth I was trying to do with my life.

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We are all apostate

By Rosalyn Eves

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Woman begging, by Tomas Castelazo

The man who sidled into the back of the rented Hungarian chapel was unprepossessing, at best. He was slightly built and dark-haired, wearing a cheap, white button-down shirt and nondescript pants. Certainly, there was nothing in his appearance to explain why the elders straightened to attention, why my companion and I exchanged knowing glances. The members had noticed his arrival, too. A slight rustle and murmuring swept through the small congregation.

The elders had brought an investigator with them that Sunday. I wondered what the young man would make of the newcomer’s inevitable testimony about the truth of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s calling—and the apostasy of every prophet since.

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Jumping Into Change… or Not

By Kellie Purcill

For some time now, I’ve known that change is coming. I’ve been told in prayer, in conference talks, in myriad different ways that life is going to change, yet – once again – I was standing without any defining details or factual flares to light my path. Then, in the course of a week, the Lord …

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Refugee Mothering

Natasha Loewen’s mothering post wraps up the UP CLOSE topic of motherhood for May.  Natasha lives in central Alberta with her husband, four children, and a large yellow lab. She is starting a 4-year B.A. in English this fall, after a 10-year period of full-time mothering. She recently achieved a goal to have a poem published in a literary journal, and she writes online at BecomingSomething.com. She longs to save Dr. House’s soul and believes she could if he’d just give her the chance.

As a child I once fantasized that my mother, at eighteen, was secretly the town whore. I hoped for men sprinkled throughout the world, all possible sperm donors, and that one day my real father would reveal himself from among them. He would be rich–rich enough to afford a McDonald’s birthday party and dance classes for me. He would be overjoyed to know me. He would have abandoned me by accident, not by choice.

For about two years I suspected that my mother was really my aunt, raising me because she was the oldest of five girls, and the youngest, my real mother, could not bear the responsibility. But, I do have a photo, printed long before PhotoShop, of her swelled belly framed by the cliché red and white, polka-dotted, baby-shower bikini. That’s standard evidence, right? And as I age more rapidly than my age should allow, there’s no mistaking her face on mine.

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Leaving the Foyer

By Annie Waddoups

In my old filing cabinet next to the piano, there is a folder marked “spiritual insights” with articles and quotes that, at some point in my life, sparked something within me.  Lately I’ve needed some spiritual sparks—the shape of my testimony worn down by mundane daily-ness and taken for granted for too long—so I’ve turned to this folder to see if anything still hits a chord or can provide some New Year’s motivation.

Halfway through there is a paper (handwritten!) that I wrote as a 17-year-old college freshman for an honors religion class.  We were asked to write weekly thought papers responding to the scriptural reading assignments.  Mine tended toward the confessional, ardently admitting my failings and doubts on a variety of subjects. I enjoyed taking my testimony out and poking and prodding it like a specimen on a table in front of me.  Keep in mind that every weekly paper included some variation on this theme:

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