Almost 6 years ago, I was preparing to leave behind the comfortable confines of Provo for the wilderness of medical school, UPenn, and Philadelphia. I had gotten through undergrad with no debt (thanks to scholarships, help from my parents, and my own work), but neither did I have a cent to my name and I would be living off student loans over the next four years. A month or so before I was to leave for Philadelphia, as I puzzled over how I would get there and whether I would be able to make do without a car to get around, my dad came to me and said: Ty, I was reading the other day about how the Lord prepared the way so that Nephi and his family could travel safely in the wilderness and I had an impression come to me that I can’t let you head off to medical school without helping to prepare the way, so, even though you haven’t finished paying for it yet, I want you to take the Camry with you, I hope it’ll help you as you start your life back East.
The other night my parents told me they were attending their next-to-last set of parent teacher conferences at Old East High School in Salt Lake. My youngest sibling will graduate next year and then my parents just won’t have anybody left to conference about. But they told me they won’t really miss it: after 23 years, I suspect they’ve heard just about everything there is to hear about their children as students.
Flickering like candleflame
‘Tween this world and the next—
Tentative and tremulous,
She sets her jaw, then
faces toward the veil.
As her spirit flees
Her battered broken bleeding
Unlock my grip,
Let loose my hold,
And soften my resolve that she
And when the billowing curtains
Finally flutter apart and she steps through,
Let that mellifluous reunion with her
Too-long-departed Fred be as
Sweet as honey.
Let luminous music sing her home,
And bathe in angel light her
Knowing again—now, finally!—the wholeness she once
wrapped tightly in his arms.
take my sins away.
Do not just make me shine.
uproot from me the
tentacles have thrust themselves too
deep and tangled for any
scalpel of my own.
Take from me what I
love or ignore, which in my
need or apathy
turns my heart away.
Let no lesser moon
sway my compass this way or that, but let only
North persuade me toward the bright and morning and star.
Beyond action, word, and thought
let your alchemy
impulse–the deepest nature that
directs the motives
guiding who I am
and will become.
I hope Barack Obama means what he says about us “not belonging to red states and blue states, but the United States of America.”
Seldom does the world entire stop and stare, slack-jawed, at some truly historic event. What’s more, most such happenings are catastrophes–whether a Tsunami, a genocide, or the towers imploding in New York. Most rare of all are moments when the world’s people together witness a modern miracle of such symbolic importance that the meaning commands the attention of all within the reach of virtually any media’s voice.
Personally, I oppose gay marriage (along with John McCain, Barack Obama, and many other folks from all parts of the political spectrum; and, yes, I know Mr. Obama does not support proposition 8). I have tried to articulate my reasons and have found it a little bit tough. But that explanation is not my primary intent today. I will say that I view marriage as not only an agreement binding two consenting adults but as a covenant which receives the blessing of both God and the state and which is meant to furnish and then care for future generations. I believe gay marriage moves us away from marriage as a contract with society, God, our progenitors, and our progeny, and toward an insular view of marriage as only a contract between two people. I think that trend is worrisome. (more…)
The gospel’s great truth is this: this isn’t it. This mortal world, though eternally important in its implications and consequences, is but the second act. This wouldn’t matter so much except that this realization changes essentially everything. Indeed, not only changes it but alters it almost unrecognizably: what seemed of grave import is suddenly a laughing matter and what hardly gave us pause now fills our minds with serious reflection. (more…)
I used to live in the world
he told me
but maybe you don’t know about living in the world, since you’ve always been in the Church. It’s like those young guys, you know, who hang out on the street corners—I used to be like one of them: cussin, wastin my time, I was in the world. (more…)
(wrote this last Friday, still think it holds pretty well):
I don’t usually talk explicitly about politics on this blog, but as Super Tuesday approaches, and what with Mitt Romney garnering so much attention, it seems appropriate:
Mitt’s road, incidentally, is uphill and very steep. Mitt is probably the best reincarnation of Ronald Reagan the party will see for a long time–charismatic, affable, down-the-line conservative, good-looking, a clear communicator–but for some reason I don’t quite understand, the country in whole and even the republican party itself does not seem particularly interested in Ronald Reagan. Despite incredible amounts of advertising, an overwhelming financial advantage, incredible tactical superiority, and a dirth of attractive Republican candidates, Romney has been unable to make a real impression. So far, his only wins have come in places where other republicans hardly seriously campaigned. The only exception is Michigan, but even there it seems the other candidates were content enough to let Romney win while they focused on South Carolina and other upcoming states. (more…)
For the sullen,
There is, in a wheatfield buried in snow,
Silent coppercold comfort.
As if, with the drowning out of jubilant life
there resides in the Earth empathy deep as frost
wrapped like tentacles around
roots long ago
thrust into the
silent, silent, soil tomb.
To the prodigal,
the golden roiling wheatfield’s waves—
whisper life unbegun:
the wintry soil barely suppressing the
tremulous life still captive.
Death and life,
beneath the Earth:
begetting one another—
each the other’s beginning and end,
each the other’s shadow,
each the other’s
meaning beneath the wintry meadow.
One of the dreaded rites of premedical passage is the organic chemistry lab class. Therein, a group of hapless twenty-somethings meets for three hours a week, in their blue jeans and protective goggles, to learn how to isolate, combine, and change chemicals.
It was my worst grade in college. (more…)
I remebered as I listened to Elder Eyring speak today (from a conference a couple of years ago) the importance of our motivation in determining the impact of our actions in the spiritual life.
I witnessed the importance of motivation most dramatically when I returned from my mission. I left for Mexico after a year at BYU. During that year, I had begun to delve into religious philosophy and to fancy myself quite the intellectual. I was asked before I left to speak about the importance of the Atonement . I very much wanted that talk to leave the ward abuzz. Having lived there my whole life, I knew most of the ward members as well as I knew my grandparents. Many had lived in their homes since the time my home was an empty lot and most of them were deeply-rooted Mormon folk who could reach easily back to pioneer ancestors. I wanted to wow them; and wow them I did. I spoke about one of Bertrand Russell’s essays on the nobility of atheism and how my faith in Christ solved the vexing problems Russell posed. It was an articulate and capable treatise and my family and I received cards along the lines of “that was the best Easter sunday meeting we have ever had.” (more…)
During my junior year of college, as I worked toward finishing my B.A. in American Studies, I took “Studies in the American Experience,” the major’s capstone course taught with wit and acumen by Dr. Neil York. About half way through the course, Dr. York explained to us that we were entering a third of the course where we would discuss some troubling aspects of America’s past. Over the next month or so, we discussed a number of mostly glum historical topics such as “America and Blacks,” “America and Asians,” and “America and the Minority.” Dr. York detailed the tragic paradox which weaves itself through American history, starting with a slaveholder who penned “all men are created equal” and working its way right up through the specatcle of Rodney King. (more…)
I see my will with Thine to meld;
Allow Thy grace to work in me.
I pray Thy love my heart to swell
that through thy pow’r I’ll be like Thee.
For freedom flows from founts that I
would not have thought: in Thy control
I look to see a bluer sky
and corridors of freer souls.
(v. 19-20): It seems strange that the proud persecute the humble. But the proud are acutely and naggingly aware of the distance between who they are and who they purport to be and they become convinced they can narrow the gap by continually reinforcing the difference between their supposed selves and the people they make out the humble around them to be. (more…)
Toward what star or pole does my nature incline?
Is there within, or without, or flung beyond the horizon
some invisible Presence toward which I wander–unled, unheeding, unknown?
What magnetism sways my needle, what force persuades my feet this way or that, what knowledge without articulation guides my soul?
Some constant, surely, some light darkness does not dim..
Yet oft my needle spins, possesed by some lesser power, some subtle mini-magnet convincing South North, just for a day.
Following, I set off, heading toward a destiny unsought and dark, pale and lifeless.
If South is North my endurance is worthless, I trek toward nothing.
Yet South is never North, me compass notwithstanding.
I cannot change the ageless planes which orient forces forever.
Beneath more visible swayers are powers too deep for feeble understanding.
One such dwells deeply within the fabric woven through us all and therein my compass find knowledge and this sure:
It is the bright and morning star.
Fluid glass, flowing like molten lava. But the vision inside would grab my attention even more. I wondered today what it would be like if I could peer into each person’s soul during fast and tesimony meeting. For a testimony, like any public expression, is part artifice–though, at least in this case, it is also part conviction. Still, most who speak in our meetings tell some part of what they think we want to hear. There is less of doubt and more of certainty than resides, I think, in their hearts. This is not to say they decieve us intentionally, but only that there is a judicial distance between the thoughts and feelings of my heart and what I will say from the pulpit. Would I have it be otherwise?
Alive with new spiritual splendor, Teresa immersed herself in the Gospel. Active in her Denver ward, she found special joy serving in the House of Lord during the Denver Temple dedication—she attended every dedicatory session, savoring the succor she found. One morning, as a session ended, she called my Father in tears and said: “Kimball, I heard Papa—you remember his tenor voice?—singing in the choir.”
In an attempt to establish a new life, Teresa enrolled in a self-realization program. There, her new spiritual advisor directed her to “face her childhood values” by attending, just once, an LDS sacrament meeting. And so, for the first time in many, many years, Teresa showed up at a ward in Denver, Colorado intending a short, perfunctory visit. The Bishop, however, invited her to talk. The gentle conversation that followed ended: “Teresa, you’ve done nothing for which you can’t be forgiven–please come back.” (more…)