April 2006

Had a post on unconditional love but WordPress ate it.  GrrRrrr!


When I was an adolescent I used to imagine I was a kind of goddess of chaos; yet even as I was creating my first Dungeons and Dragons character to be a chaotically good cat-elf fighter/theif/mage (I did say it was my first character…), I was dimly aware that, chaotic alignment or no, I'd probably be sticking to the rules.  Time went on.  I graduated from high school then university, spent three years teaching ESL in Japan, moved to Canada and got married.  I grew, changed, and gained a better understanding of myself.  I am no goddess of chaos.

If I were to be a goddess of anything, it would be Order.  Cranky Order.  A cluttered house chokes me.  Internet "spelling" makes me want to go berserk.  I don't even know what anti-Mormons make me want to do but I doubt they'd like it.  (I either want to break down in tears or beat them about the head until they see sense.  Probably both at the same time.)

I know you can't beat or logic someone to your side.  I know that it's not a Christ-like attitude to have but I like to crusade.  I like to feel I'm standing up for Truth, Justice and God's Way and I enjoy intellectual sparring.  However, the day my husband pointed out a newspaper article because he thought I'd like to complain about it was the day I realized I had a problem.

I taped up a copy of Moroni 7:45 next to my bathroom mirror so that its counsel might eventually embed itself in my conciuosness.  I prayed about it — not often but as often as I remembered or when I felt I'd failed to rein myself in somehow.  Then, for the last few weeks or so, I forgot about it entirely.

Recently my husband and I joined an internet community at the request of a friend who is a long-time member of that community.  I stayed far, far away from the forums.  Internet spelling + young idiots + a rather libertine community culture + flamers, trolls and the rest… I wanted nothing to do with it.  My husband is curious and analytical.  He was wary of many of the same things I was (still am, to be honest) but he proceeded to cautiously explore anyway.  A couple of times he'd mentioned a thread titled "Christains vs. Mormons" but I just shook my head.   I knew no good would come of me going there.

Until last night, when he mentioned that the poll in that thread (asking the question "Are Mormons Christian?") actually had a slight majority in the "Yes!" camp.  So I went to bump the majority a bit.  Of course I got drawn in to the discussion.  I very nearly created an image of a wooden bat with the words "The Chruch of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints" on it.  It was my intent to post that image and say "Don't make me use this!" or someother "witticism."  One of the other things I've been praying for lately is to be better able to recognize promptings.  I never finished that image.  I felt wrong about it — not as enthusiastic and interested as I thought I would.  I tried for awhile but then I said to myself  "You know, maybe this is a feeling you should listen to."

So I joined the discussion without my lovely little bat image.  It felt perfectly natural at the time, though now I wonder how I did it, but I went through that discussion with something very like a Christ-like attitude.  I didn't let the angry posts upset me.  When I felt correction was necessary, I did so with simplicity and courtesy.  Some of my posts were very long; sometimes I felt ignored but though I got sometimes sad or frustrated, I never got angry and upset.  More importantly, I didn't want to be.

There is a fine line between crusading and simply standing for something.  I learned something about that line last night, for which I am humbly grateful.  I don't want to be a negative person; now I can truly feel that I don't have to be.  I'm not done but right now I feel God and myself both rejoicing at my one, wobbly little step.  I did it, Father.  I can do it.  Thank you.

On Monday I went with the missionaries to visit a new convert. I thought they’d said that her grandmother had died recently so imagine my confusion when we entered a… I don’t even know what we’re calling them these days. I suppose it was a retirement home. After the missionaries set me straight (it was her granddaughter that had died) I spent awhile trying to understand why the place made me uncomfortable. It seemed neat enough (if a bit dark where we were) so it was not the fault of the building itself. I was reminded of my discomfiture when my Young Women’s group had visited a nursing home for Christmas and how totally out of water I’d felt when I visited my grandmother in the hospital.  I think “out of water” and “at a loss” are not only good phrases to describe how I felt; they also point to the root of the problem: unfamiliarity.

I don’t think retirement homes are the best idea we’ve ever had. There are advantages and I can understand the human urge to be near “your kind” so to speak but on the whole I think society is being weakened and not only on this end of the spectrum. I am continually amazed by otherwise perfectly competent adults who claim to have no idea how to deal with children. Didn’t they have siblings? Didn’t their friends have siblings? Didn’t they babysit for money as teens? For heaven’s sake, can’t they even remember their own childhoods?

We are becoming unfamiliar with the most basic aspects of mortal life.  We lack coping methods and mechanisms.  What should be natural — like knowing how to hold an infant or how to care for a sick parent — has become unknown and stressful.  I’ve always known I wanted children so I’ve sought chances to be around them and to care for them.  They don’t scare me because they are a known quantity.  Conversely, I’ve hardly ever been around the infirm and elderly and they do scare me.  I don’t know how to act, what to do, what to say (or what not to say)!

There are steps I can take to overcome that weakness.  I can (and plan to, once I have a dependable schedule) volunteer at a nearby hospital.  Unfortunately I don’t live close enough to my grandmother to visit her but I try to call her every week.  As long as I’m alive and capable, neither my parents nor my in-laws are going to live anywhere but home until its medically necessary.

I just can’t help but feel that a society that so divorces itself from the basic aspects of life is shooting itself in the foot.  If I find elderly people daunting and scary now, how will I feel when I become one myself?  It’s not a case of “there but for the grace of God go I.”  We are all destined to go that route someday.  Women who are pregnant search out other moms for support; students canvas family and friends for advice as  they try to choose their path in life; why are we choosing to remain ignorant about this important part of life?

Has anybody noticed the change to the Archipelago's look?  Either it's an April Fool's Day joke that has yet to be taken down or it's been hacked.  "Benevolent Dictatorship?"  "We'll configure it for you?"  Egyptian curses in the sidebox?  o.O  I hope it gets fixed soon.

A high councilman visited my ward last week and spoke passionately about a number of things.  One of the thing which struck me the most was his reprove about Conference.  He said many of us take it as a kind of "Mormon Holiday" and stay away.  I've been guilty of this myself and so this year I resolved to attend.  I didn't quite live up to my resolution but it's given me a perspective I didn't have before.

I went to both of the Saturday General Sessions.  The spirit there was one of peace and instruction.  It was wonderful to sit in the chapel and listen to the speakers.  I, who usually have to exercise iron will not to day-dream through talks longer than two minutes, felt their words slide into me as easily as water into a cup.  At the end I felt filled, uplifted and warmed.  I'm usually a bit of a chatter-box but when I came home I found I cherished the warmth and stillness I felt and wasn't ready to talk about it when my husband asked.

Sunday morning I rode to Conference with friends and felt all the same things as the day before plus the joy and gratitude of being able to hear President Hinckley speak again.  Truth be told, his health was one of my motivating factors for going in the first place.  I would be forever disappointed with myself if I'd let laziness deny me a last opportunity to hear him speak.  It was a great experience but despite my earlier resolve I went home with my ride after the first session instead of staying for the second.  Worse, I felt I should stay even as I walked out the door.  I was hungry and tired though and I missed my husband, so I talked myself into leaving anyway with the promise that I'd listen later on the internet.

Listening over the internet, though a blessing and a great help to those who cannot leave their homes, is absolutely not the same.  The spirit that I'd so treasured from the sessions at the stake centre wasn't there.  Though at the end I did feel some measure of it, it was and it felt like only a small part of what I would otherwise have enjoyed.  The temptation to editorialize, kibbitz or try to explain (i.e., render acceptable to my Catholic husband) the talks was strong; I had to decide to keep my mouth shut.  Not a bad decision to make but one I don't think I'd've had to make in a more reverent environment.  (My computer room is great for what it does but I must admit it makes a pretty lousy chapel.)

So in the end, I have become a convert to Conference.  From now on I will make every attempt to go.  Internet broadcasts are good but simply can't compare to being there.