Through a Glass Darkly

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?

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Published in: on June 4, 2007 at 2:17 am  Comments (12)  

Gravity (4 of 5)

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…)

Published in: on February 2, 2007 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gravity (2 0f 5)

When my Father finally arrived in Denver, Teresa was not at the terminal to greet him. Confused, my Father claimed his luggage and waited a few minutes before he was paged. When he found her, Teresa was in hysterics; she grabbed him and, looking at him through streaming tears said, pleadingly, as if he might fix whatever was wrong, “Kimball, mom and dad are missing.�? My beleaguered and bewildered Father spent the night comforting his sister, even as he fought his own doubts and sorrow. The next morning, an entourage including family, friends, and a general authority were waiting at the airport in Salt Lake—but my grandparents were not there. (more…)

Published in: on December 14, 2006 at 12:29 pm  Comments (5)  

Gravity (1 of 5)

My Father has never been one to speak much of himself; he is almost painfully shy about being honored, even in private. Not surprisingly, then, I have only ever heard snippets of his life story. Still, I have become acutely interested of late in better understanding my heritage generally and my Father’s story specifically. This summer, with his begrudging permission, I read through his old journals and letters, marveled as I watched his story come to life, and tasted—though distantly—the deep sorrow and joy that run like rivers through his history. (more…)

Published in: on December 11, 2006 at 12:35 pm  Comments (6)  

Daily Discipleship

In her thoughtful and enlightening book Leaving Eden, Amber Esplin tells the story of a young girl named Judith. Near the end of the novel, Judith’s brother dies and she confronts the chasm that opens in his absence. Though Judith must at first face the bitter sadness that inevitably accompanies death, she finds some catharsis in the Gospel and eventually settles into a tenuous peace. She finds, in fact, that her brother’s death gives substance to the spiritual forms that had formerly seemed, to her, quite unreal. This epiphany grants Judith a new perspective on life; in the novel’s closing pages, Esplin gives voice to some of Judith’s resulting thoughts: (more…)

Published in: on December 8, 2006 at 12:15 pm  Comments (9)  

Brian

On a drizzled, misty night, sultry fog wraps itself around South Philadelphia.  In the darkness, traffic lights and headlights reflect as colored smudges on the glistening asphalt.  Sirens sound intermittently beneath the towering skyscrapers that lie some three or four miles away.  Amidst this choking gloom, I pull my 93 camry up in front of a lighted porch and Brian opens the door of the house, looks around, says somethig back inside, and comes down and gets into the car. (more…)

Published in: on November 14, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (10)  

President Boik (1 of 3)

Thirty miles East of Philadelphia geographically and a couple of light years away socioculturally, sits Chester County–an idyllic suburban embodiment of the 1950s American Dream.  Houses dot the quiet streets, trimmed by well-manicured lawns.  Unlike those in chaotic Philadelphia, the policemen in Chester County spend significant time waiting for speeders.  The air is cleaner there and the life calmer–it would be a good place to raise a family or to retire: Jim Boik was doing the former and preparing for the latter when the Stake President called him and his wife to an interview in the spring of 1999: (more…)

Published in: on November 13, 2006 at 5:14 am  Comments (2)  

Prayer Before Speaking

Father,
Let me speak, and preach, and seek, and
Greet as Jesus
Today let my handshake grow
Warmer and my smile glow with
More sincerity.

Help me see in others
The sorrows the Savior sees.
Beyond their smiles let me feel their
Anguish for sorrows unspoken and griefs
Hidden to all but Thou.

Make my perception deeper,
Truer
And then make my cup run oer with the sweet nectar of
Empathy.
That like butterflies to blossoms
Those who anguish will find respite in
Me–

In my words, in my sermon,
And in the common hallowed touch of a hand.

Published in: on November 3, 2006 at 3:57 am  Comments (13)  

What Bush Might Have Said

AP; September 1, 2005:

My fellow Americans,

Today I learned tragedy has reached its muscular and frightening hand into the southeast corner of our country. I have watched with worry and then horror as the New Orleans levvies broke and as both water and chaos flooded through the streets of that beleaguered town. My aides tell me there are thousands of our fellow-citizens stranded in their homes, in churches, and in sports’ stadiums. Many of those most affected by the destruction are those society forgets and leaves behind in the uncaring rush of capitalism–many are poor, many were heretofore forgotten. We must realize many who had little before the flood now find their little has turned to nothing.

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Published in: on October 23, 2006 at 1:58 pm  Comments (12)  

Please Help my Priests

You would love Brian; I can pretty much promise you that. He’s a lanky six-feet of chocolate brown skin with a soothing voice and a slouching posture that leave everyone around him feeling completely at ease. On Sunday, he ordained his friend to the office of Priest. President Boik helped Brian with the more technical aspects of the blessing, whispering words to him from his left as they both stood in the circle. Finally, President Boik said:

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Published in: on October 17, 2006 at 2:30 am  Comments (20)  

Bedsores

A little more than a year ago, I moved far away from my beloved family and mountains to attend medical school in Pennsylvania. The first months, in particular, were harrowing, and all my time here has had been challenging. The other night, though, I found myself feeling particular trepidation because, in January, I will begin work in the hospital. I will replace the endless parade of powerpoint slides with patients–living, breathing, ailing, suffering humans who need our help to get well. The burden, as you might imagine, can seem daunting and the expectation is almost worse. I include here an e-mail written to my parents that night, slightly edited for presentation here, but hopefully remaining true to the urgeny of my feelings that night; I would appreciate the thoughts of anyone who has ever scaled a peak that, beforehand, seemed nearly insurmountable:

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Published in: on October 9, 2006 at 3:51 pm  Comments (22)  

The Heart of the Matter

Every ten years you live, your heart pumps enough blood to fill a rocket’s fuel tank. It does this by contracting and relaxing approximately once per second, over and over and over and over again, during every moment you breath. Every cell in your body has constant need both of new oxygen and of waste removal and blood serves both purposes. Your tissues can survive a few minutes without blood but anything more than that and they start to die–your heart can’t take any time off, it has to keep pumping interminably until the minute you die.

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Published in: on October 7, 2006 at 12:31 pm  Comments (2)  

President Hinckley

This from an e-mail to a friend:

I don’t know if/when you have or will listen to conference, but it boosted my spiritual energy in a wonderful way. I wasn’t able to attend the first session (at my ward) because I had medical interpreter training, and I found myself feeling the loss accutely. I greatly enjoyed the rest of the sessions, however. I liked all the sessions, but the last was my favorite; that’s funny, I suppose, because I often feel like things are kind of winding down during the last session–but not so this time, at least not to my ears.
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Published in: on October 2, 2006 at 2:17 am  Comments (8)  

Because She is My Mother

Though this is a couple of days late, I hope you (especially you mothers) will enjoy it. Please forgive the explanatory tone at the beginning of the post. I gave this as a talk in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday and there were a number of invesitgators present, so I fashioned it for their ears.

Some twenty one hundred years ago, a Prophet named Helaman was also an army commander. He led a small force of just two thousand warriors—all of them young, all of them inexperienced, and all of them volunteers. Early in Helaman’s campaign against the Lamanites, he and his two thousand sons, as he called them, were faced with a difficult choice. The Lamanites had been pursuing Helaman and his sons for two and one half days. The pursuit was so vigorous that Helaman and his army had to rise before dawn and march into the night to keep ahead of their pursuers. Strangely, though, on the third day, the Lamanite army stopped dead in their tracks. Due to a breakdown in communication, Helaman and his two thousand warriors did not know why the Lamanites had stopped. Was it because Helaman’s co-commander, Antipus, had engaged them from the rear? If so, Antipus would be in desperate need of help. Or, was it a ruse—were the Lamanites trying to draw Helaman and his two thousand s (more…)

Published in: on August 3, 2006 at 11:17 pm  Comments (9)  

Life is Made of the Things we Love

This morning at about nine o’clock, Garrison Keillor reminded me life is made up of little things we come to love. Whether important or trivial, these are the things that, every day, give our lives sparkle and vim. Inspired by his thoughts, I’m going to list some of the little things I’ve come to love about what Mexicans call “la vida cotidiana” (roughly translated: everyday life). Please let me know, what are some of the things that make your lives wonderful?

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Published in: on August 3, 2006 at 11:16 pm  Comments (2)  

A People of Sorrow and Acquainted with Grief

While teaching in the MTC, I realized I could not let “my” missionaries enter the field without telling them the truth: a mission is a difficult, taxing, and often harsh experience. Oh, there are miracles a plenty, to be sure, but most days are long, most doors are slammed, and many people are rude. I made a point of looking each of my Elders and Sisters in the eye and saying this may be the hardest thing you will ever do. I knew I taught truth, at least during that lesson, because I learned from what I taught. I articulated feelings through which I had never thought.

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Published in: on August 3, 2006 at 11:09 pm  Comments (1)  

The Abolition of Want

Want is infinite. That, anyway, is the American economic dogma. The first lesson I learned in Econ 110 was that want is like the receding horizon–ride faster, push harder, and wear out your life in its pursuit and, in the end, it does not matter. Strangely, want does not diminish with achievement or acquistion. I want a car. I get the car. Now, however, I find I want speakers for the car. When the speakers are installed, I need new paint–red, perhaps. By the time my vehicle is outfitted as I originally designed, I am busy seeking next year’s model.

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Published in: on August 3, 2006 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

An Ode to Mr. Jones

Yesterday morning, I spent two hours with a Chinese Rheumatologist whose English was passable if not fluent; at the very least, what she lacked in fluency she made up for in enthusiasm. You learn quickly in medical school that rheumatology is (one of) the unloved medical specialities. Consequently, every rheumatologist takes it upon herself to convince you rheumatology is fascinating, subtle, and difficult–most doctors, however, disagree. Having now acknowledge this, I fully realize some twist of fate will probably make me a rheumatologist years down the road.

This post, however, is not about rheumatology.

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Published in: on August 3, 2006 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment