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16 April 2019

Death and Rebirth: Easter Ponderings

So, Palm Sunday I didn't feel well. Actually, for several days before that I wasn't feeling very good: stress headaches, migraines, insomnia followed by nightmares... my emotions clearly had the upper hand, and I was quietly freaking right out, which is not my norm; my best friend once laughingly observed that I tend to be "a drama-free zone". And I do try. But last week I had drama enough that it made me ill.

So Palm Sunday. One of the things about a lay clergy is that sometimes everything is beautiful and perfect, and other times we get to exercise charity and patience. Don't get me wrong; the talks were excellent: one even successfully managed to relate fishing for eel in New Zealand rivers to following the prophet and the Lord; outstanding talk, the kind that people will remember and benefit from for a long time. But every speaker overlooked that it was Palm Sunday; it wasn't mentioned until the classes after Sacrament Meeting. And I was so hungry for a deep dive into the Atonement of Christ; I needed His healing: it had been a tough week --and the next day I was going to dig up my basement.

It felt like breaking my sanctuary: if life is like tag, my home is "safe". Only, it didn't feel very "safe" anymore. It felt broken. That's what I would tell people: "We're breaking the basement."

"I hope your week is less interesting than mine," I said to the guy at the rental place where we got the concrete saw and the mini jackhammer they called a "breaker" (that saw was HUGE). And he laughed, which was the intended effect. But I was whistling in the dark: it wasn't really funny to me. I was trying to put the best face on something that pulled me way out of my comfort zone.

02 April 2019

Commonplace Book: February & March 2019

A sample from my commonplace book, and brief instructions for how to keep one.

A commonplace is a traditional self-education tool: as you read, grab a notebook. Write down things that embody Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Write down notable quotes, with or without your own thoughts about them. Write down the questions you have as a result of the text you are reading. You will find the book becomes a record of your own growth, and it becomes a touchstone for memory of things you have studied in the past. This is what Mother Culture is all about: self-directed, conscious self-education. 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt yuo
But make allowance for their doubting, too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk to wise;

If you can dream --and not make dreams your master,
If you can think --and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them, "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings --nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours in the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -which is more- you'll be a Man, my son.
-Rudyard Kipling

Dust if You Must

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed,
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
Music to hear, and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there,
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come round again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and its not kind.
And when you go -and go you must-
You, yourself, will make more dust.
-Rose Milligan

Cease endlessly striving for what you would like to do and learn to love what must be done.

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! --
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us further than today;

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's Broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe're pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act -act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


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