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…)

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

Gravity (3 of 5)

The next few days pulsed with surreal happenings. My Father, barely off the airplane, attended his mother’s funeral the Friday after returning home and watched from the stand as the throng filled the chapel, then the gym, and then spilt into classrooms and hallways. My Mother, then just a friend, showed up at my Father’s doorstep with a casserole and time to talk. Letters came from the First Presidency, the Missionary Executive committee, and from President Jensen, who said, in part: (more…)

Published in: on January 19, 2007 at 5:44 am  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)  

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)  

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)  

Somewhere in Mexico City

“Elders, will you come to my house today at ten o’clock?”

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Published in: on August 3, 2006 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tender Mercies

It really wasn’t remarkable, as miracles go.

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

His Image in Their Countenances

Perdon? That’s how I responded to Sonya’s tortured admission of guilt; roughly translated: I’m sorry, what was that?

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Published in: on August 3, 2006 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Power of the Word

That was my summer of irresponsibility–I spent most of it as a ski bum.

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Published in: on August 1, 2006 at 5:58 am  Comments (1)  

Jennifer (1 of 3)

It began, I think, in the hallway of an upscale, downtown Philadelphia apartment tower. Jennifer is a lawyer and Jake a student at a prestigious University. They have lived across the hall from one another for some time, but had never met until about six months ago. That night, in November, they ran into each other in the hallway. Each was taken with the other, and both hoped the other would make contact. Unable to overcome the inertia produced by busy lives, nothing hapenned again for about a month, until Jake finally asked Jennifer out–and with that began a beautiful and painful story, one that would leave most of our ward smiling, then crying, then baffled.

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Published in: on August 1, 2006 at 5:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Jennifer (2 of 3)

Sometime in June, I received an e-mail fron Jennifer inviting me to come to a dinner at her house. I was preparing for an exam and probably would have ignored the e-mail completely if Jennifer had not written, explaining the reason for the dinner: “I have some things to share with all of you.” Probably because we had been studying cancer in school that day, the idea of a dinner to “share some things” struck me as ominous and I immediately began to fret about what that Saturday would bring.

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Published in: on August 1, 2006 at 5:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Jennifer (3 of 3)

You, observant reader, have probably noticed that this post will have three, not two, parts. Perhaps you are hoping the last chapter in this saga contains a miracle, an epiphany, the story of Jennifer running into the chapel just at the end of Sacrament Meeting and later explaining to us the resurrection of her testimony after a long night of doubt. I, too, wish the story ended that way; and perhaps that will happen some day. For now, however, the story ends as I have already described, with a “letter of resignation” delivered to the Bishop (Jake and Jennifer, incidentally, drifted apart and eventually broke up some months before these latest events).

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Published in: on August 1, 2006 at 5:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Elissa

One muggy summer night, I emerged from one of the homogenous, burnt-orange, brick MTC buildings. I had returned from my mission to Mexico only a few months earlier and, that night, I had just finished my first session of MTC teacher training. The air in the room had been thick with the Spirit and I savored the sensation as I walked toward the crosswalk.

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Published in: on August 1, 2006 at 5:53 am  Leave a Comment