Sunday, February 23, 2014

Can It Be? - A Poem

Can it be?
They say this Man
can heal broken hearts.

It is no small thing
for doctors to set broken bones
and carefully treat illness.

Despite all procedure
and protocol
some are still lost.

The cure for
pains that are hidden
is knowable to none.

The unspeakable,
too painful to codify
with spoken words -

surely this pain
will never leave me:
it can't be articulated.

And yet,
as I live and breathe
He does this and more.

The cancer of my soul
not merely contained
but healed without a scar.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dealing With Death

Of the trials that can shock us to the core, dealing with the death of someone close to us has to be about as difficult as anything else. For a few months now I've been collecting my thoughts on this subject, and now seems as good a time as any to share them.

First, I want to say that in my estimation grieving is necessary, helpful, and appropriate. I have heard some say that if you believe in the potential for eternal life then death doesn't need to be sad. I agree that death won't be sad forever, but there are people I certainly wish I could see again. There are inputs I won't have any more in this life, and to me that is sad. I have learned the hard way that refusing to confront emotion can be very damaging. The bard was onto something when through MacDuff he affirmed the value of "[feeling] it as a man."

Different experiences I've had bring me comfort on the subject. I remember my Uncle JP, when he was dying, said that he saw his parents waiting for him. I don't believe that this was a hallucination due to a failing physical body; I believe that the veil is thinner as you approach it. It comforts me to know that those who leave loved ones here on earth will be with loved ones still when they pass from this life. We cannot directly comfort them nor they us but others can, and to me that is beautiful. The sealing powers will take ailing bodies home to ancestors - including in many cases parents - who long to be closer to them, to know and to make known. None are alone in the eternities.

The mother of that same uncle, my sweet Granny Karnes, suffered for many years preceding the end of her life. For many years rheumatoid arthritis gradually took more and more of physical health; dementia came later to attack her mental health. Most of my memories of her include a hospital bed which was in her living room. When I picture her now, I see her flying. I know that none of these diseases can hurt her or cause her pain any more. I among others mourned her death but I take comfort that she is free from pains that never left her all the years I knew her on this earth. Not all that die suffer chronically before their death, but all become freed from physical pain, including the cruel pains of mental illness, and to me this is also beautiful.

Finally, I know that through the Atonement, all accounts will eventually be settled. Many in this life are born into poverty, tribulations, handicaps, or what have you. Nothing is more common to mankind than trials. Death is one of the steps towards rectifying everything that happens in life. I do not know how it works or why things happen how they happen, but I know that there is a plan. All of us experience what we need to have the opportunity to return to live with our Heavenly Father again, and I believe that more of the plan will be knowable and comprehensible after death than before. To put it differently, I believe that many who cannot feel the warm embrace of Christ's love now will feel it stronger after passing through the veil, and to me that is profoundly beautiful.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Family: A Proclamation to the World Part II

I'd like to continue writing about this 18.5 year old proclamation. This blog post will be about the first part of the third-to-last paragraph. The first post discusses a different part of the same paragraph.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. 
I know that families are the structure that God has given us to help us through this life. There are many benefits to family life, not the least of which is how much parents learn from attempting to raise children. Raising children can help you learn by putting someone else ahead of yourself and by giving you experiences that are hard to find elsewhere*.

We try to follow Christ; His entire life and sacrifice were putting everyone ahead of Himself. He thought and worked for our needs, not His. As parents we do this in weak and imperfect ways, but it can help us learn a bit about His love.

I think I can offer a simple example about the learning experiences of raising children. Children misbehave, and tantrums are especially hard to deal with; one often feels like using the harshest discipline available to force the child to stop immediately. However, tantrums are often motivated by being tired, scared, hungry, needing a diaper change, or something more than just misbehaving. An exhausted child often can't behave well, and in many cases yelling makes it worse. In many cases the best solution is to solve the underlying problem. Eventually, this can help us realize that even when we know we are right we often shouldn't lord it over those who are wrong, because this is usually unproductive and incorrect.

Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.
This is an intriguing quote. We live in a very individualistic world, preoccupied with the rights (or entitlements) of the individual. The list of things society says we have a right to is ever-growing, including at times the ridiculous. Some parts of society will say its our right to eat out, have the best cable television package, and drive an expensive car for example. However, this sentence speaks of the rights of the children brought into this world.

Every child is entitled to be born to married, loving parents who are faithful to each other and their children. Imagine a world filled with individuals that honored this right of children above individualistic rights. Certainly, being a faithful member of a family requires many sacrifices, including some that are very difficult. All those who decide to entitle their families with this blessing will experience tremendous joy in their family, and will know of the unspeakable blessing that a family is in their lives.

*Obviously, not everyone has the chance to raise children in this life. My understanding of the plan of salvation is that we will all have the experiences in this life that we need to prepare us to receive exaltation in God's Kingdom. It can be extremely painful to realize that God won't give us something we desperately want, but I believe in an Infinite Atonement that will eventually correct every inequality.