Sunday, February 16, 2014

THE LESSONS OF LIFE

Karamea called at the beginning of the week with a problem. I listened to her emotion for a while then asked her to explain the facts of the situation. Once we had removed the emotion she was able to think clearly. I gave her a few options and a bit of advice, expressed my love and confidence and hung up the phone.

I thought about this for the remainder of the day and recognized the analogy of me as a parent and our Father in Heaven as a parent.

How often do we fall to our knees and ask Father in Heaven to lift our burdens, to fix our problems, to make all things right in the world. Most of the challenges we deal with are created by human error. Either a choice we have made or a choice someone else has made that has a negative effect on our lives.

I expect Heavenly Father would like to protect us from our human existence just as I would like to have taken the burden from Karamea. But what do we learn in the process. Without the suffering we cannot grow. There are lessons that come with our choices and with living the life we are here to live.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

ENCOMPASSED ABOUT BY A GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES


In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews Paul recounts for us stories of faith from the Old Testament. Beginning with the faith of Abel and moving chronologically through history he mentions men and women who used faith as a guiding force in their lives. In my reading of these verses I attach myself to the stories and envision the struggle each one had in dealing with challenges of life. These were people who relied on the Lord, walking by faith who did not crumble as the battle became almost unbearable. At the end of chapter eleven I reflect on my ancestors, their struggles and sacrifices. I am grateful for their commitment and for the strength of their faith. But the best part about chapter eleven is the beginning of chapter 12.

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

I am encompassed about by a "great cloud of witnesses", my ancestors cheering me on. As I run this race they run beside me and when I am weak they're faith gives me strength. I may lay the weight down and use their faith to beat the sin that does so "easily best" me. And I can run with patience as long as my eye is single to He finished first, my Savior Jesus Christ.

We prepare for our future not by looking ahead but instead by looking back. I learn from my ancestors. I gather strength from their stories. Faith of my fathers, faith of my mothers, those stories carry me across the finish line and into the embrace of those who have loved me through the years.

I am grateful to have been guided here to read this  passage of scripture today and I am grateful that I could feel the Holy Ghost speak peace to my soul as I embrace these words to be truth.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Reference talk by Jeffrey R Holland in October 2012 Conference - The First Great Commandment

The life altering journey of the disciples began with instruction on where to place the net in order to productive. Jesus finds the discouraged fisherman on the shoreline and tells them to launch the boat out into the deep and cast their net. We read in Luke 5:5 that Simon Peter is a bit frustrated by  this suggestion, “Master, we have toiled all the night and taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” Following the guidance of Jesus they caught many fish, felt the spirit of a miraculous event and were filled with humility. Verse 8 goes on to tell us that in Peter’s emotional unworthiness he fell down at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man.” And in verse 11 we learn that they anchored the ship at the shore, left it and followed the Savior.

Jesus explained many times that he would not always be with them. Elder Holland explains, “they either could not or would not comprehend such a wrenching thought.” He references Mark chapter 9 verses 31 and 32 - “for he said unto them, The son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.”

How often are we afraid to know truth and decide that we are more comfortable now knowing?

The disciples spent three glorious years with the Savior until his crucifixion. Once resurrected and physically gone from their presence the disciples were at a loss, “what do we do now” was the question they asked Peter.

Today I ask you to reflect on a life changing experience - giving birth to and raising children, a family vacation, a special event that you coordinated, a service project, pursuit of higher education. Do not think just of the vantage point of that event but ponder instead on the journey. What did you experience along the path and how were you changed by that experience?

I began the pursuit of my degree in August of 2011. While each individual has their reasons for attaining a degree my reason in the beginning was simply to satisfy my employer. It wasn’t long before I recognized that gaining knowledge is a spiritual experience and that what I am learning now I get to keep forever. This journey has been filled with life altering conviction and given me new insight into important truths. I am halfway into this journey and now I see the other end of the tunnel. Friends will often ask, “what are you going to do once you have your degree?”

This question is similar to that of the disciples, “what do we do now?”

Towards the end of his talk Elder Holland explains, “After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is to be as it was before. We can’t quit and we can’t go back.” The essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to love. The world in which we live was created for us by a loving father in Heaven. LOVE is in everything and LOVE must be at the foundation of everything we do.  In reflection of your life altering experience consider the significance of the passion that energized you, apply what you learned along the way and then recognize that those moments are customized just for you. Love from a Father in Heaven who sees your potential and asks only that you love Him back. And this was essentially what he asked of Peter on that day. “Peter, do you LOVE me?”  

Friday, March 22, 2013

THE KENA UPANISHAD - HINDUISM


From the Kena Upanishad or kenopanishad:
Not that which the eye can see, but that whereby the eye can see: know that to be Brahman the eternal, and not what people here adore;
Not that which the ear can hear, but that whereby the ear can hear: know that to be Brahman the eternal, and not what people here adore;
Not that which speech can illuminate, but that by which speech can be illuminated: know that to be Brahman the eternal, and not what people here adore;
Not that which the mind can think, but that whereby the mind can think: know that to be Brahman the eternal, and not what people here adore.
The One Power that illumines everything and everyone is indivisible. It is the Ear behind the ears, Mind behind the mind, Speech behind speech, Vital Life behind life. The ears cannot hear it; it is what makes the ears hear. The eyes cannot see it; it is what makes the eyes see. You cannot speak about it; it is what makes you speak. The mind cannot imagine it; it is what makes the mind think. It is different from what all we know; yet it is not known either. Those who feel they know Him know Him not. Those who know that anything amenable to the senses is not Brahman, they know it best. When it is known as the innermost witness of all cognitions, whether sensation, perception or thought, then it is known. One who knows thus reaches immortality.
Kena is Sanskrit meaning “by whom”.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sedona Captured A Piece of My Heart

Bell Rock Vortex
 Auntie wanted so much to feel the vortex of Sedona. I was somewhat skeptical of these vortexes. When we met with Joseph he told us the vortex is within. I feel like that is more true than actually having to stand in one certain place to feel the vortex. Joseph said we can create a vortex no matter where we are. We just have to know how to create the energy. Despite all of that we drove down to the Bell Rock Vortex.

When we arrived at the trailhead we looked all around to find information about the time or distance to the vortex but there was nothing. Auntie walked for a bit then got tired and went back to the car. I walked to the base of the bell and found a quiet place to sit. I looked up at the cliffs then bowed my head and closed my eyes. The song of the birds filled my mind as I thanked Father in Heaven for the beauty around me. When I opened my eyes I saw this piece of the bell. I could see the birds flying in and around the crevices. One final beautiful moment before leaving Sedona.


The drive home was peaceful as Auntie played Pride and Prejudice. I am a visual person so the words coming at me did not keep my attention. Instead my thoughts wandered in and around the experience of the past few days. Peace consumes my being.

And then Karamea called. She needs to go to Sedona.

A Day of History

Jerome, Arizona
We had hopped to get on the Verde Valley train and enjoy four hours of back country beauty but we didn't make a reservation ahead of time and when the concierge called they were all booked up. My attitude was that if it wasn't available then it wasn't meant to be and we would find something else to do. I headed back to the room and looked online for something to do in Jerome. I Tours of Jerome. We slipped in at the last minute and were picked up at the hotel at 10:00am.

There were two other people on the tour. We made a few stops along the way and as we drove the driver explained many things to us. It was wonderfully historical and I was happy to view the scenery without having to watch the road.

Jerome is a vertical mining town built into the mountains. In 1953 there was 15,000 people living there and two years later only 42. More than 5,000 people were sent 1,900 feet into the ground to mine copper each day. The equipment was heavy and would have been debilitating if not used properly. According to the tour guide, accidents happened regularly and many people were brutally injured or killed. All in the name of copper and money.

The people on this journey, Paul and Joan from Wisconsin. We ate lunch with them. Paul is a large animal vet who now works with organic medicines. We learned so much from him. It was an engaging conversation. The other person on this journey, the driver, a filmmaker...imagine that. He moved to Sedona because of the film school. His film is still in the works. Of course of talked to him about DOCUTAH!

Speaking of film, there was the most amazing camera perched in front of a store in Jerome. I was captured the moment we drove by it and ran back to take a photo as soon as lunch was over.

Auntie was exhausted when we returned to the room. She slept and I relaxed by the pool. We then took a drive up to the Airport Vortex where the view is absolutely captivating. Then went to see a Quartet, a movie Auntie was anxious to see.

In between all of this I had a skype conversation with Asa. LOVE across the miles. He is happy and misses us. He does not want to come home but would rather we all join him there. I am so thrilled that he has found peace in the homeland of his ancestors.

Another brilliant day of goodness and joy. All orchestrated by the Heavens above.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

EXTRAORDINARY


Out of Africa
The day began with a short drive to Camp Verde where the animal sanctuary Out of Africa is located. We arrived early in the day and scheduled a Uni-Mog tour. This tour takes us into the park where we can experience the animals up close and personal. People ride in the vehicles and animals walk freely about the landscape. My ultimate goal was to kiss a giraffe...I did this...and it was completely exhilarating. I felt harmony of the universe and recognized that the animals and happy, loved and well cared for. This is the message on their website -

As we attend to each animal’s daily food and husbandry requirements, and to their holistic health and medical needs, we experience with gratitude and friendship — their appreciation of us. We consider their social orders, their natural beauty and essence, their sense of feeling safe and secure, their eternal spirituality, and our communion with them as a common community of life. Our commitment to the animals in our care allows them to portray their instincts, intelligence, and emotions. Wisdom is served by learning the integrity of their world, their honesty, their vitality, and their life-on-the-line reality. Their wealth is a life well spent. They thrive by living in the “now,” focusing their attention, their power, their affection in acute awareness of life itself. By cooperating with them and their needs, our human family can, to an appreciable extent, integrate with theirs. Our loyalty rewards us with self-respect and self-fulfillment, for we have become something greater than ourselves — and so have they. God is pleased.

Poolside
We came back to the room to relax. While Auntie rested I went down to the pool to read. The weather was absolutely perfect. Temps around 80 degrees, no wind. I lounged for an hour and was never uncomfortably hot. I snapchatted with Asa and read an essay in Mormon Women Speak about a woman was overwhelmed with all the tasks she was expected to perform as a young mother with a husband and church calling. I will be able to use this essay for my twelve page English paper. 

Magical
Auntie wanted to experience the energy of the vortex while in Sedona so we asked the concierge what he recommended. He scheduled an appointment with a Joseph Whitewolf, a Native American Shaman. Mr. Whitewolf picked us up at the hotel. Our first stop was an overlook where we could view the vista of the valley.

We stood looking at Thunder Mountain and it's majesty and Joe said to us. Take a look and then tell me in one word what you see. My word was magical.  Joseph asked me what my definition of that word was. I said, "to appear and disappear in awe and amazement." This is the word I would also use to describe the two hours we spent with Mr Joseph Whitewolf.

Joseph explained that my word was a description of what was within me. Then he spoke of expressing gratitude through actions, thoughts and words. He used the example of putting away our shoes and thanking them for carrying us throughout the day. And also making the bed and expressing gratitude for a good nights rest. Then he talked about the moon and it's reflection of light and explained how the light of the moon connects to the soul. He said, "people suntan during the day to enhance the beauty of the skin. We should moon tan at night to enhance the soul." 

We drove to another location and walked up to the medicine wheel. This wheel is located just beyond The Amitabha Stupa Buddhist Temple. As we walked I felt the energy around me and took delight in the prayer flags hanging along the path. Once at the medicine wheel I took in the beauty around me. To the west a mountain with a chimney stacking pointing straight to Heaven. Joseph explained the wheel then performed a ceremony for each of us.

I entered the wheel and stood in the center. He explained that during the ceremony I should be selfish and greedy and receive the love of mother earth. This was about me and no one else. "Are you ready?" I wasn't. I told him it is difficult for me to be selfish and greedy. I live my life for others. "Not this time," Joseph replied. "This time it is about you. Mother Earth is going to reach up and wrap her arms around you. Don't think." That was the most important thing he said...don't think. Thinking consumes me. He placed a blanket on the ground, I sat and he proceeded.

I emptied my mind, opened my root chakra and felt the earth beneath me. I felt energy move through me from one chakra to the next. Love and light filled my being and tears trickled down my skin. Peace. Beauty. Quiet. Joy. 

Joseph sat next to me and explained that while while circling the wheel with his drum he saw a grasshopper in the east quatrant. This is the circle of new beginnings. He said that I was about to embark on a new journey and grasshopper is there to help me let go of the fear. 

Joseph then performed the ceremony for Auntie. While we were both there at the same time it was a completely different experience for her. He received visions and heard the Raven speak for her. While we were both there at the same time the experience was unique and individual.

This was an unforgettable day.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Auntie and I at the Chapel of the Holy Cross - Sedona, AZ
I am on spring break this week. Auntie Rubina and I left yesterday morning and drove to Sedona. We made a stop in Flagstaff. Dear Flagstaff. It was crowded with people but it was comfortable and inviting. That town will always hold a piece of my heart. We had lunch then headed east to Sedona.

The drive through Oak Creek Canyon was beautiful. Patches of snow in the shade of the evergreens as sun danced through the branches. It's spring and the trees are ready and waiting for their leaves. There are resorts and lodges along the canyon road; one called Forest in the Trees was particularly captivating. Guests park their cars on one side of the road then walk across a beautiful wooden bridge to what looks to be a treehouse of sorts. It's wonderfully inviting.

We arrived at our destination and spoke with the concierge who recommended a list of things to do over the course of our stay. We had some time before sunset so we drove ten minutes to the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

This is a magical place. From the road I saw the Christian symbol of a cross jetting out of the rocks. The cross is a reminder of the crucifixion of the Savior and usually does not create peace for me and so I was not ready for the complete feeling of peace that cloaked by being as I entered the chapel. I collapsed onto the bench and gazed at the massive symbol before me. The candles, the glass, the view through the window. It was elegant in every way.

The plaque on the wall just outside the entrance to the chapel depicts the history of the chapel. The best part reads as follows -

"The accomplishment of this dream was made possible when sculptor and architects met on common ground. The sculptor then became the donor and passed on her vision to the architects who sublimated it in terms of transcendental form. It is now a Monolith with the Christian connotation of the one cross...organic to the structure. When we consider that just as the soul inhabits a human frame, and the house is built to shelter that frame, it is the mission of the church to shelter and inspire both soul and body. It therefore should not only be a monument to faith, but a spiritual fortress so charged with God, that it spurs man's spirit Godword!"

This morning I woke early and thanked my Father in Heaven for the beauty of the world around me. Now I sit by the window and watch the orange of the sunrise over the red rocks. Rejuvenation is my word for the day.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 30 - Baptism for the Dead

These are the slips of paper I saved from two of the times I did baptisms for the dead in the Cardston  Temple. Two of the slips you see are from February 7, 1976. I was baptized 72 times on this occasion. The temple was a three hour drive from Calgary. The Young Women would leave at 3am so we could arrive there by 6:00 in the morning. We did this twice a year and always looked forward to it.

I remember dressing in white and then waiting in the room for the patrons to come and get us. One time while we waited there was a family there waiting with their children. They were being sealed. Two little girls and their parents all dressed in white. Someone came to get the parents and took them off to the sealing room to be sealed. The little girls soon followed to be sealed to their newly sealed parents. It was a beautiful thing.

There's a balcony on the left side of this picture. The balcony goes nowhere. There are no stairs to this balcony and there is no door leading onto it. One time I was with a girl who saw spirits standing on this balcony and as each one was baptized they would disappear from her sight. She had been baptized quite a few times and when they told her she was finished she said, "no there's still one more." They told her no but she insisted. She told them she could see people standing on the balcony and that each time she came up out of the water people were disappearing one by one. There was still one more. They searched through the papers and couldn't find anything. Then a man stood up to look around and as he did he moved his foot. There was one paper under his foot. He picked it up. They called the name and said the prayer. She went into the water and when she came out that person was gone.

I have very fond memories of my youthful trips to the Cardston temple.




Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 29 - Rest, Recreation, Time

Eight Pillars - James Allen - The second pillar is Economy.
And he says

          It is a true economy in this particular neither to devote the whole of one's time to work nor to recreation, but to apportion to each its time and place; and so fill out life with those changes which are necessary to a long life and a fruitful existence.
          All agreeable change is recreation, and the mental worker will gain both in the quality and quantity of his work by laying it down at the time appointed for restful and refreshing recreation; while the physical worker will improve in every way by turning to some form of study as a hobby or means of education.
          As we do not spend all our time in eating, or sleeping, or resting, neither should we spend it in exercise or pleasure, but should give recreation its proper place as a natural tonic in the economic scheme of our life.
          Rest is for recuperation after toil. Every self-respecting human being should do sufficient work every day to make his sleep restful and sweet, and his rising up fresh and bright.
          Enough sleep should be taken, but not too much. Over-indulgence on the one hand, or deprivation on the other, are both harmful. It is an easy matter to find out how much sleep one requires. By going to bed early, and getting up early (rising a little earlier every morning if on has been in the habit of spending long hours in bed), one can very soon accurately gauge and adjust the number of hours he or she requires for complete recuperation. It will be found as the sleeping hours are shortened that the sleep becomes more and more sound and sweet, and the waking up more and more alert and bright. People who are to prosper in their work must not give way to ignoble ease and over-indulgence in sleep. Fruitful labor, and not ease, is the true end of life, and ease is only good in so far as it subserves the ends of work. Sloth and prosperity can never be companions, can never even approach each other. The sluggard will never overtake success, but failure will speedily catch up with him, and leave him defeated. Rest is to fit us for greater labour, and not to pamper us in indolence. When the bodily vigour is restored, the end of rest is accomplished. A perfect balance between labour and rest contributes considerably to health, happiness, and prosperity.
          Time is that which we all possess in equal measure. The day is not lengthened for any man. We should therefore see to it that we do not squander its precious minutes in unprofitable waste. He who spends his time in self-indulgence and the pursuit of pleasure, presently finds himself old, and nothing has been accomplished. He who fills full with useful pursuits the minutes as they come and go, grows old in honour and wisdom, and prosperity abides with him. Money wasted can be restored; health wasted can be restored; but time wasted can never be restored.