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23 January 2013

Singing Praises

My family is reading Ether chapter 6 for our family scripture study right now. They've built the barges, which were the "length of a tree." Even supposing that the trees were the huge sort of trees, that's still not all that big for an ocean crossing. They're dark inside, except for 2 small lights at either end. They're full of people, animals, and bees. We read about conditions in the boats tonight. The scriptures are a little light on the detail, but I got to thinking about what they do say, and what that might look like, to the families experiencing it. It's all pure conjecture, but this is what I thought about tonight.

Being tight "like a dish," there's no draining water that comes in if they open the hatch too soon; deal with the sloshing at least until the next time we come to the surface. Oh, and that bucket of last night's pee? Gonna have to hold on to that. Sorry about the smell. Put it with the dung from the animals. Don't bother the bees.

But that's not all. That's a "furious wind" that's making "mountain waves." Waves that crash on the boat and bury it in the deep until they want for air. You know, hypoxia. Fun stuff that. Headaches, nausea, vomiting. Maybe a seizure if things get really bad. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they didn't die of it, but the scriptures don't say. Maybe some of them did, particularly the very old or very young. And then you'd add a smelly body of a loved one and grieving to the list of things going on in those boats, until you came to the surface again and could put it overboard. It says they cried unto the Lord when they needed to come up. I imagine they did! And he brought them up... into the teeth of the storm driving them.

But that's not all. They built eight barges and got in them. Pushed them into the sea and trusted they'd get there. Wherever there was. I imagined talking to Hero about it, rocking around, seasick, in the bottom of the barge, about day 3:

"How long till we get there?"
"I don't know."
"How far?"
"I don't know."
"Will Aunt Kate and Baby T be there when we get there?"
"I think so. The Lord will take care of them."
"Can I talk to them?"
"No. They're on another boat."
"When can I see them again?"
"I don't know. Getting there takes as long as it takes."
"What if they don't land in the same place as us?"

Turns out, the promised land was quite some distance away: took 344 days to get there. Seems reasonable to me to presume that for about 343 of those, they had no idea how many more days were going to pass before they got out of those boats. And it's not like they had good weather; the winds, which caused "great and terrible tempests" never stopped. For a year. And then there's that word in verse 4, when they're talking about what they ate: subsist.

Sounds like fun, right? Yeah. Hero didn't think so either when we talked about it tonight. I asked him what he thought the people felt about it, and he guessed they didn't like it. He predicted some complaining. So I read him what the scriptures say in verse six:

And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.

I knew the story; I saw it coming. Hero was very surprised. Praises? But that's hard! Praises?? Even at night? All day long? Without ceasing?

By this point, my voice is shaking and I'm just fine with it when he says he's tired and falls asleep on me. But I'm not thinking about the Jaredites any more. I'm thinking about my Baby Girl.

I took this picture of her today.

Last Saturday I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Yesterday, I came home from the hospital without her. We left our daughter behind at the NICU. In pain. Stuck full of tubes and wires, some of which go deep into her body. Even when I visit, I can't hold her. My boys can't visit; it's flu season, and they're not allowing children in. We don't know how long she'll be there; it takes as long as it takes. It's hard.

Oh my goodness, this is hard.

The Lord's tender mercies are so apparent, even in the difficulties. Especially in the difficulties.

I need to be more careful to "sing praises." To say thank you to Him. And once I started thinking that way, I started seeing even more to be grateful for.

It makes it easier to bear, and that's huge.


misskate said...

What an awesome analogy!
We continually pray for you all.

Anne Chovies said...

How hard in deed. We're all praying for you and your family, especially that little girl!


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