Sunday’s Uplift

I’ve been quite remiss in my blogging lately. I could blame working and traveling, but it seems that I’ve allowed facebook to eat up my blogging time. It’s easier and faster…and fun too. Although it doesn’t take that much time (I’ve limited myself to 15 minutes per day), it still take me away from blogging. That said, I thought I take a few minutes this morning and post one of the many things I’ve been thinking about.  

This past Sunday my daughter Elizabeth and I had the opportunity to go to church in Conway. It was an exhilarating experience for us for a couple of reasons. It’s always spiritually uplifting to worship with like-minded people, especially those who genuinely care about you. That’s the way it is in Conway. We know and love most of the people there, and I’m sure that if we lived there, we’d grow to love them all. Some of those people have known Lib since she was an infant and one man in particular still refers to her as “Elizabeth Sue.” I won’t mention any names; I’ll just say that we used to LOVE to hear him sing “Master, the Tempest is Raging” when he was the bishop of the Myrtle Beach Ward.

The other reason that Sunday was so uplifting is because of the phenomenal growth that the church as experienced there. In the late 1990’s our family was one of the few who began attending the Conway branch. We were small in number but strong in spirit. At that time we met in a modular unit, and then in 2003, we moved into a newly constructed brick and mortar building. In 2006, the branch became a ward, and a couple of years later the growth necessitated an expanded facility. Consequently, the Conway ward met in Myrtle Beach for about a year until this past Sunday.  With the newly expanded church completed, the members met in it for the first time. Knowing about this event ahead of time, I couldn’t resist topping off my weekend trip to the beach by worshipping in this beautiful building with my fellow Saints and friends. Who knows? Maybe that ward will one day become a stake center.

Okay, I’ll add another reason why Sunday’s service was so memorable: the speakers, the music, and the lessons. I’ll expand on some of what I came away with at another time, but for this morning I’ll be content to mention a scripture that’s found both in Isaiah and in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18). The spiritual uplift I got from “reasoning together” with the Conway folks on Sunday is still with me today.

One last thing. I’m writing this from the Johnson City, TN Public Library. DH is playing golf, and I drove to the library to look for information about the area. Earlier this morning, I drove through the campus of ETSU, and I wrote in my journal while sitting in a parking lot there. Overlooking the beautiful mountains and surrounding scenery, I was reminded of something one of  the speakers said Sunday. He mentioned that it seemed to him that when God wants us to see things, he sends us to a high place (think Moses) so that maybe we can see things the way He does.  Interesting thought, huh?

Thank You

This morning before walking I read a little from book on prayer, a chapter in Psalms, and a chapter from a book by Eleanor Roosevelt.  I woke  up before dawn today, perhaps in anticipation of Monday when Spring break ends and the daily grind begins anew. Those 5:25 a.m. days are killers! But I digress. What I want to share this morning is that after reading, I went walking, pink iPod shuffle attached to my jacket (it was nippy in SC early this morning). Because of the morning reading and quiet time with God, I felt more in tune with the spirit while walking. I’m pretty much always aware of Him in my life, but this morning’s awareness seemed more poignant and strong.

The first thing I noticed was the whitish fragment of last night’s half moon, and before long I saw and felt the presence of the glorious sun warming the earth. I also spied the puddles in the grassy areas of the track, reminders of the much needed rain that’s drenched our area lately. Ever since I was a small child, I often begun my prayers with a rote repetition that goes something like, “Thank you for the sun and the moon and the stars and the rain,” and I still do that. Even thought it might be repetitious, it’s sincere. I’ve always been thankful for heavenly spheres, sparkles, and sprinkles, perhaps because they serve as reminders that this earth is not all there is.

Depsite the music of the iPod, I could hear my footsteps hitting the hard-packed sand, still strong and unfaltering. Although I couldn’t feel or hear it, I know my heart was beating strongly, pumping the blood and oxygen to my limbs that would enable me to walk/jog the five miles. My lungs were doing their job too, and I couldn’t help but think of my father who suffered from chronic pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.  What a blessing it is to breathe deeply without pain.

I could also hear the birdsong, sweet and melodious. I saw the blue, blue Carolina sky with nary a cloud in the sky. How wonderful to have eyes to see and ears to hear. Speaking of hearing, the music on my iPod is AWESOME. This morning I listened to chants of Gregorian monks 75 percent of the time I was walking, and that contributed to my heightened awareness of God’s beneficence. I must confess that lately I’ve been going through a jazzy blues period, so I tuned into a bit of that too. Hearing Etta James belt out “A Sunday Kind of Love” is grand. I’m so thankful for people with musical talents and for technology that enables me to enjoy it so easily. Now that I have a Blackberry, I can even listen to it on my cell phone.

And the people. What a magnificent thing a human being is! Young, old, short, tall, black, white, and all shades, shapes, and sizes were created by Him, and I got to see quite a variety of specimens at the track this morning.

Then there’s the mind, the human mind, the part of us that sets us apart from Fido and other creatures. As I walked and looked and listened, my mind was filled with the above thoughts and many others. I was able to recall events of long ago as well as recent happenings. Words of wisdom from both parents entered my mind as well as thoughts of my beloved children and grandchildren. Plans, thoughts, ideas, insights, and impressions all come from a two to three pound organ that looks sort of like a cauliflower.

I’m thankful to my Creator for memories, my mind, birds, sun, moon, stars, family, friends, music, health, my fellow (and sister) Earthlings, the ability to read and see and hear, my children, my heart………everything.

John and Margie

There’s no way I can let this splendid month of October pass without a tribute to my parents. John and Margie both left this life for the next in October, he in 1998 and she in 2000. Never before did I realize just how gorgeous this month is until I saw its beauty juxtaposed to the sorrow and shadow inside the hospital/house where they spend their last days.

Frankly, his death caught me by surprise. True, he had been sick with chronic respiratory disease for years and had recently been hospitalized. I wasn’t overly concerned about this, however, because I had two siblings who lived close by, and my sweet mama was still alive and well. Although she had battled cancer for three years, at that point in time, all was well.

Back to t he story. Around 5:00 a.m. on the morning of October 18, my brother called from the hospital to tell me that the end was near. My daughter Carrie and I quickly dressed, and after giving a few words of instruction to my son, she and I jumped in the car and headed out. About an hour into the trip, I called my sister and learned that he had just died. I’ll never forget those moments at Jimmy Carter’s on Hwy 501 between Conway and Florence, SC.  We were pumping gas like nothing unusual was going on and yet a pillar of my life had just been knocked from beneath me. All around us, people were chatting, and cars were whizzing by as if nothing had changed. When Carrie and I finally got “home,” the sun was up, and that Sunday was a bright, light filled day. Friends came and went, my brother from Virginia arrived, and it hardly seemed real that our father was not there to partake in this togetherness. Perhaps he was there after all; I’d like to think so.

Fast forward two years, and again it’s October. This time, it’s my mother who’s ailing; failing would be the better word because each passing day found her weaker and weaker.  In and out, my siblings, our children, her sisters, and her many friends began what I can only call a death watch during that last week. Hospice workers came each day to check vitals, give instructions, change bandages, offer encouragement, and so forth.  More than once, we gathered at the table in the kitchen and dined on scrumptious food prepared by my mother’s loving friends. Although there was deep sadness, there was laughter too…and memories of a life well-lived.  I know for a fact (she told me) that although she was unable to move or join us, she enjoyed listening to the sounds of life bouncing off the walls throughout the rooms of 511.

When I felt overwhelmed (which was almost always), I’d go for a walk, and I can still remember walking out on the front porch and being a little shocked at the beauty of the streetscape. Leaves were changing color and falling, the temperatures were brisk, and the sun seemed especially bright. How could there be so much beauty outside and so much sadness inside?  On that Friday afternoon, Carrie suggested that we get out for a few moments, and I agreed. After all, my three siblings and my mother’s sisters were “holding down the fort.” It was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed spending time with Carrie who had come from Connecticut to spend some time with her granny.  Around 4:15, I told Carrie that I felt uneasy and expressed the need to get back to 511 Chesnut. In tune with the spirit, she readily agreed. I remember taking a deep breath before leaving the light filled outside to step into the dark, cool hallway.  45 minutes later, with her family and little dog (she loved little Eva), around her, Mama left us. I hope she felt our love.

Years later, these two people are still in our hearts and minds. Their legacy lives on. If I ever doubt it, all I have to do is look at the faces of their progeny to glimpse a certain something of John and Margie.