Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Struggling to Keep the Shelf Intact

In my post on March I quoted Camilla Kimball and her idea about putting things on a shelf when it comes to stuff about the gospel that you don't understand. Sometimes I'm successful at keeping stuff on my shelf and sometimes I have to admit my shelf sags. Right now it's sagging pretty low. My heart aches with the pain and anguish that is caused by things that members high in our church say that to me feels wrong. When making analogies I think one should avoid making comparisons to something so large in history, with long-lasting repercussions, if you weren't an actual part of the event or were your ancestors.

Unfortunately there are no easy answers and I don't purport to have any. But it seems to me that with all the questions that surround this issue, church leaders would lean toward a more compassionate view. I wish they would not have jumped into the political realm where our honored respect for separation of church and state was blurred to the point of non-existence. It feels wrong to me to vote on a minority group's civil rights. I believe we are going to someday look back on this day and wonder what we were thinking. I hope that day comes in my lifetime. I hope that I can keep my own shelf propped up until then. I hope that the church doesn't keep pushing people away who need the loving teachings of Jesus Christ. Here's to hope.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In the "Thick of Thin Things..."

I didn't hear very much of the semi-annual conference of the LDS church. I was with my husband and some friends coming home from Yellowstone. I enjoy conference. Usually there's one stand-out talk, the one talk that makes you want to do better and keeps you thinking, and at least one talk that stands out for being controversial, one that makes us say, what the heck? I'm not sure if there was one like that...this time. You'll have to ask someone who listened to all of it.

I had heard a quote on the news that made me want to hear President Monson's talk so my husband and I listened to it together. It was a prod to be more kind, more involved in service and civility. I found it encouraging and enlightening. One phrase that struck me was this one: "We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes."

Stepping back. I examined my life and wondered where I would put the things I was involved with on that line. Imagine a line, thick on one end and thin on the other. Well after getting ready for my day I walked with a friend, both the walk and the friend are essential to me. I love my friend and we talk about life, love, and the importance of feeding the soul. Next, I rushed to do Visit Teaching. I was giving the lesson and chose Pres. Uctdorf's message on love. I have an awesome partner and visit three great women who are quite involved with the thickness in their own lives, thickness that seems to be just that--going back to school with teenage children and a husband to take care of, running the Boston Marathon, while being primary president and maintaining a strong family--and one sister who is doing every thing she can to make being a single mother of a baby work for the best.

When I was done with visiting teaching, I got home and listened to a phone message from a friend who wondered if I wanted to run some errands with her and get lunch. This friend also is very important to me. She teaches me every time I'm with her and we talk so much we miss exits and end up at wrong places, even wrong restaurants, so Yes I want to go--besides I need a few things too. When I got home from that activity--and remember I live clear out--about 15 miles from Logan, I needed to get busy working on an order (pottery.) I worked for a couple of hours and then met my husband to drop off a vehicle for repairs. Then I made dinner. It was great and I was ready to plop down in front of the television. I watched a couple of previously recorded shows. Then fell into bed close to midnight.

Most of my days are similar to this one, only sometimes I hike, sometimes I teach, sometimes I read, sometimes I chat with friends, check emails, blogs, write! What is thin and what is thick? Definitely watching television is thin---only sometimes it's thicker if you're watching a documentary on civil rights, or even conference, but I usually watch pretty thin stuff like Desperate Housewives which I love--but even that is a little thicker when we think about what we've seen and apply it. I don't mean have an affair with your gardener, if only I had a gardener and looked like Gabby, but that's another problem. But I mean what does it teach about relationships and life? There is meaning in the satire--believe me. It's a pretty fun show. Well obviously I'm not willing to cut that out. In fact there is nothing I'm willing to cut out. So... could I add say some thicker stuff to my life? Most definitely, but my life is pretty full now and pretty thick with things right in the middle of the line--not thin, but not too fat either. But wait friends? Family? I forgot about the great talk I had with my daughter who is hundreds of miles away--and work? That's all pretty fat stuff.

Okay so the secret might not be what you're doing but HOW you are doing it. For instance I used to think having a check-off list with things like readings scriptures, going to temple, baking cookies for new neighbor--was the way to increase my own spirituality--to stay in the THICK. Now I believe they have very little to do with it. It's not so much baking cookies for a new neighbor as it is saying the right words to welcome a new neighbor--smiling and grabbing something to carry into the house, and letting them know that you are happy they are there. This happened with us. We moved into our new house about 15 months ago. We had neighbors who tried to help us move in--they were all ready to go, but old neighbors from our old neighborhood already beat them to it. I had one neighbor who brought food so we could put stuff away and this same neighbor helped me wash all my windows, and vacuum all the new carpets. Another neighbor told me every time she saw me how glad she was that we moved into the neighborhood and how much she loved looking out her window and seeing our house! This was nice because we may have blocked her view, but she didn't see it that way. And then we had an open house where lots of old neighbors and friends and lots of potential friends came and brought food. We felt properly welcomed. Thick. Most of us have to work. Is work thin? No it's one of the essentials of life and teaches all kinds of things like responsibility and dedication and service, but it's all on how you do it. Have you ever been waited on at a grocery store by someone who was perhaps a little thin on the way they bagged your groceries? Don't you love it when someone does a menial job with a smile and a greeting? That person has found a way to make a thin thing pretty thick. I like that. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Thinness and thickness of life is all in the way we do it. I know there are some things that are just plain thin--you know what they are. Then there's things we waste are time on while neglecting real life, the here, the now. I think I'll stay right where I am--in the middle of the line, but I'll try to do everything I do with a little more meaning.