We thank thee, O God, for a Prophet

This is how I'd rather remember my Prophet; "knighting" Elder Eyring, quoting Shakespeare, and telling me he loves me with tears of sincerity in his eyes.

OK, so that last one was in a speech to the students at BYU-Idaho before I was a member of the Church. But I know that when I listen to that talk, and I hear that dear, sweet man begin to weep, I know the love reaches through time and space to be with me--and for that, I know I am blessed.
The interesting thing about living on the east coast is that news travels rather slowly from the west.

President Hinckley passed away Sunday night around 7pm in Utah, and I didn't get the news until almost 7pm EST. (You can do the math if you'd like, because I'm not going to.) Boyfriend sent me an e-mail, which I received while I was at the public library. I did start to cry, but I really don't like to show that much emotion in front of strangers. And ever since then, life has been going on around me too quickly for me to express everything that I'm feeling. The sentiment, "I'll cry when I have time and space to feel," comes to mind--which tends to be how I deal with things, even though it doesn't make sense to people.

I did get emotional in front of my mom when she came and got me from the library. She didn't know exactly what to say, so she gave me a few moments to regain my composure. Then she moved on in conversation to something else that made me laugh, so I could tuck my sadness in my pocket for when I was ready for it. She and I may not talk a lot, but the older I get, the more I realize it's because we don't need words.

I went to leave for school this morning, and she told me, "I have an article from the newspaper for you." She gave it to me this evening; the press release from The News Journal about President Hinckley's passing. It's gestures like these that remind me of how supportive she has been of my conversion. She may not know too much about President Hinckley, but she knows how important his life was to me, and how much I wish I could express what I feel about his death. By handing me that newspaper clipping, she wasn't just helping me to keep a memory; she was giving me her blessing to be myself.

President Hinckley taught me everything I ever needed to know about family--how it's the sacred, inspired unit of God that He uses to reach His children. How remaining faithful to gospel principles would teach me how to be the kind of person my family needs me to be. How faith in Heavenly Father and His Son would provide a way for all of us to be whole again.

And while I never got a chance to thank him in person for being such a caring, comical, sacrificing, wise vessel for the Lord, something tells me that if I remember what he taught me, I'll see him again.

Changes, Journeys, and Me

Our branch just lost something near and dear to us in the form of a wonderful family. They're currently on their way to the Salt Lake Valley, where their new life is waiting for them. And even though they only pulled away a few hours ago, the absence is already beginning to make its presence known.

This family was the first LDS family I ever met. Their two oldest sons worked with me in a martial arts summer camp the summer after I ended one of the hardest times of my life. I can honestly say that their friendship saved my life that summer. At a time when I was broken and lost, their family stepped in to show me where peace could be found. They stood by my side as I searched for that peace, and found the embrace of my Savior. They rejoiced with me at my baptism--the father was actually the one who baptized and confirmed me. His wife allowed me the honor of wearing her temple dress that day. Their children have been a remarkable inspiration to me, showing me the wonderful fruits of a gospel-centered family. I've shared in the love that reaches out to and kindles any heart that finds itself in their home, and it's a feeling I won't soon forget--a feeling I will seek for the rest of my life if I have to. Because of everything I've seen since I met them, I not only believe in miracles, I'm not afraid to seek them out; the confidence that has made all of the difference in my life.

It's almost hard to imagine what life in the Church will be like without them, their presence and influence has been so powerful, so crucial to building the foundation of my new life. And even though I understand that my spiritual maturity and their future requires them to leave, I know I will miss them terribly. I will miss them as if they were my own--because in so many ways, that's what they mean to me.

Our branch actually threw a huge potluck party to wish their family well last night. An evening of taking pictures, talking, laughing, and pretending things weren't going to change for just one more night. But since I don't believe in saying goodbye, I had no other options but to wish each of them the best for their journey and their new life--the same as they did for me all those years ago. It was no easy task (especially with my boyfriend) because I knew it would be half a year before I would see them again--if, my brain reminded me, I was ever to see them again in this life. But I couldn't think like that if I was going to remain tearless. And I'm glad to say, tearless I remained--even when my boyfriend stood waving to me as my ride returned me to the part of the world that is never quite as warm as his life is to me.

But as the scriptures have been teaching me for years, "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (Psalm 30: 5) I checked my e-mail this morning, and gasped when I saw the message from "CES Admissions" sandwiched between my Daily Book of Mormon reading and my e-mail from Borders. Upon checking my application status, I discovered that I've been accepted for the Fall 2008-09 semester; meriting the spazziest dance of jubilee I've done in public lately.

I always swore I'd leave my hometown and reach for something more. I almost didn't make it because of some really attractive options I started to consider--the option my mother would still have me pursue. But in light of recent of events, I realize that we all have our journeys to make. And sometimes, you have to look past the sorrow of those who care about you to see your destination, the dream that can drive you 3,000 miles towards what you really want.

Like so many others before me I've heard the call to head west. And now that the sonorous desire echoes in my heart, I won't walk away.

To Dream

Sitting in a cafeteria
With walls of white
Staring off into empty empty space

Thinking about Alma 24

Take my past
The sanguine stain
That always seems to taste
Of metal rain
And bury the sound
Of swords crashing
Worlds clashing

Bury it all
Beneathe more than just
A trained eye

And so I say to him
Who would believe in peace
If it weren't for the broken pieces

"In the Book of Mormon
There's a story
About a people
Who buried their swords
To keep from fighting"

I watch him laugh
And craft
A mixture of
And all the other isms
I used to wear like pretty polished prisms

And eventually he says,
"That sounds nice.
But wouldn't that just
Leave the violent people
With all the swords

And the non-violent people
At a disadvantage?"

And with sad eyes, I told him
"It's nice to dream sometimes."

And wouldn't you know it
There was a fight in school that day.
Two boys settling a little bit of nothing
With four fists and a busted eye

Blood spilling from a punctured eyeball,
I heard from the girl
Who came into my Calculus class
And tried to throw up

But couldn't.

"A knife," she said
"He had a knife and ran from
the principal."

He might have used it
Like that kid who stabbed
Some son of Adam
In the face with a boxcutter
(Was that last year,
or the year before?)

And I thought to myself
Wouldn't it be nice to bury it all
Beneath more
Than a trained eye

Taught not to see?

But with spilled blood in the hallway
It's hard to recall ways
And days

To dream.

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