- By Elder Thatcher

A Thematic Blog - -By Elder Thatcher
"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Personal Favorite

On 5 November 1937 at the New York Times Book Fair, author and editor Henry A. Wallace (who later went on to be Vice-president of the United States) stated the following while speaking on the subject "Good books of the Nineteenth Century":

"Of all the American religious books of the nineteenth century it seems probable that 'The Book of Mormon' was the most powerful.  it reached perhaps only one percent of the people of the United States, but it affected this one percent so powerfully and lastingly that all the people of the United States have been affected." 
The Book of Mormon is "others' words" in the greatest sense.  First of all, it is a compilation of the words of numerous prophets.  More important, however, is the fact (and millions upon millions have now testified to its truth) that it is the word of God.  His words should have the utmost presidence when discussing "others' words.
I know the Book of Mormon to be true.  It is the word of God and contains the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It has changed my life and is powerful.  Mr. Wallace hit an important point, but, in my opinion, was extreme litotes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pure Potential - That's What I Am

Let me throw several interesting little events at you.  I'm going to deviate a little from the way I thought I was going to write this entry. 

1)  Not long ago, I saw a poster advertizing a movie entitled "That's What I Am."  I don't know a thing about the movie (except that Ed Harris might be in it.  Man, he's getting old.) but the title struck me.  I thought of some wonderful conversations I had with a very good friend of mine in which we discussed that very idea.  Who and what are we?  We had a very simple conclusion:  "We are Pure Potential." 

2) As I've thought lately about how to overcome my personal struggles and difficulties, I read once again this quote from the profoundly honest Abe: 
"Is is difficult to make a man miserable when he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him." 
This made me think of another of my favorites, from the powerfully humble and humbly powerful Ezra Taft Benson: 
"Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us." 

3)  Usually when I begin to write a blog, I look for a Church-produced video that goes along with the theme for the day.  Sometimes I have to search for just the right one.  Today, I got on to the Church's Youtube channel and found that this video had been added 7 hours ago. 

All these little things have been adding up around me this week.  In the words of one of my favorite hymns of all time, "how can I keep from singing?"  I know that I am a child of the creator of worlds without number.  I know that we all are.  I feel that our separation from Him in this mortal life, is our opportunity to come to appreciate that reality more fully.  He is constantly showing us evidence of His existence, of His love, and of our relationship to Him.  We are pure potential.  Simply to realize that allows us to tap into it. 

In others' words...
"To see things in the seed.  That is genius."  -Lao Tzu

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Macro-love with Micro-manifestations

I think too often, we think of charity as this grand thing that is only put into action by large-scale demonstrations.  We seem to place simple love out of our own reach.  But, as Neal A. Maxwell said, even God's love is "macro-love with micro-manifestations!" 
None of us has true charity as Jesus Christ did, and I don't think we will any time soon.  But that doesn't absolve us from the duty, and from the privilege of putting our "widow's mite" in the coffer.  A smile?  A handshake?  Giving the benefit of the doubt?
Maybe we're don't have perfect love.  But He does.  I know He's more than willing to give it to us if we agree to pass it along.

Can't we just be a little...kind?

In others' words...
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion."  -Dalai Lama

The best portion of a good man's life - his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.
-William Wordsworth

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." 

Monday, April 25, 2011

He Is Not Here

I consider Easter the most important holiday.  Not because it happens to fall on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox, but because of the empty tomb that it commemorates. 

As a youth, I never really captured the importance of the empty tomb.  Just like when Mary looked inside and couldn't quite comprehend, I didn't realize that, as Gordon B. Hinckley put so well,

"Here was the greatest miracle of human history.  Ealier He had told them, 'I am the resurrection, and the life' (John 11:25). But they had not understood.  Now they knew.  He had died in misery and pain and loneliness.  Now, on the third day, He arose in power and beauty and life, the firstfruits of all who slept, the assurance for men of all ages that 'as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive' (1 Corinthians 15:22)"

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is real and it means that there is hope.  No matter the circumstance, no matter the depth of our sorrow or pain, no matter the duration--it is temporary.  Our Savior descended below all things and overcame them.  He outlasted all provocation.  He defeated all enemies, and the last enemy that was defeated was death. 

Here was the only Man in the history of the earth who had power to voluntarily give up his life whether He were hanging on a cross or sitting comfortably in a chair--the only Man with power to take that life back again with the same ease. 

Because the tomb was empty--because He was not there--we can have hope in knowing that all of our struggles will be temporary; that if we are faithful, all things will work out for our benefit.   I know that He died, and I know that He rose.  We will all live again.  We will see His face and the marks in His hands. 

Here is hope. 

In Others' Words...

"He is Not Here."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

As the Sun Rises - The Process of Revelation

We understand that God teaches us.  He reveals things to us in our minds and in our hearts.  A phrase that I love that He has used to describe this "coming forth" of truth is "Clear as the moon, fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." 

Have you ever watched the sun rise?  Do you notice how it comes so gradually that the increase of light is almost imperceptible.  The light grows even before the sun itself is even visible on the horizon.  However, at one moment or another, we realize that the sun has indeed risen. 

This is different from turning on a light-switch.  A dark room is instantaneously filled with light and the difference is immediately noticeable. 

It is true that God can enlighten us in an instant, as it were, and help us to see things differently and help us to change.  The scriptures are full of examples of such stories.  However, these instances are better understood as the exception rather than the rule.

More often that not, personal revelation and inspiration come to us as the sun rises.  It is a process that requires patience.  It comes "line upon line, precept upon precept."  It does, however, come.  And when it comes, it is "clear as the moon, fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."  It is bright and brilliant and undeniable.   

In others' words...

“As you appropriately seek for and apply unto the spirit of revelation, I promise you will ‘walk in the light of the Lord.’ Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding, and direct and protect you and your family.”     -David A. Bednar

"And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things." -D&C 88:67

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life: God's University

"Busy-work."  Remember that?  The curse of every student from Elementary school on up.  Wouldn't it have been nice if every second of our education could have been tailor-made instead of having to waste time on a seemingly endless supply of worksheets?

Of course, the reason for what we term "busy-work" is that education as it exists today can't be made as individual as we would like.  Each student has different things to learn at different speeds and the goal of an educator is to affect the most learning possible for all the students. 

However, it is not a perfect machine. 

Life, on the other hand, can be the most efficient classroom because God is the master teacher.  Our lives are tailor-made in the same way to the extent that we are hard-working and obedient.  It's interesting to take a look at the types of work he assigns.   
Wilford Woodruff, the fourth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that God educates us through difficulties--by giving us things that will make us struggle--by "chastising" us. 

"The chastisements we have had from time to time have been for our good, and are essential to learn wisdom, and carry us through a school of experience we never could have passed through without." 

Diana Nyad, a word-champion long-distance swimmer (who, I am informed, is currently training to swim from Cuba to Florida.  And yes, she is a US citizen.) made this comment.

"The most extreme conditions require the most extreme response, and for some individuals, the call to that response is vitality itself....The integrity and self-esteem gained from winning the battle against extremity are the richest treasures in my life." 
And finally, the quintessential Ralph Waldo Emerson gave us this insight. 

"A man who sits on a cushion of advantages, goes to sleep.  When he is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has been put on his wits,...[he learns] moderation and real skill."

In life, we suffer; we experience hardship and pain and sorrow.  Why?  Because it gives us experience that we could not gain any other way.  I repeat:  we could not gain it any other way.  We could not learn to trust, we would not learn humility, we would not learn appreciation for the peaceful and happy times.  We would not learn and we would not grow.  (See 2 Nephi 2:11,23; 2 Cor. 12:9-10). 

How different would life look if we took our foreheads off the desk, picked up the pencil and saw the Teacher who is daily giving us assignments and tasks, and "doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw call men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation." (2 Nephi 26:24)

Every second of this life has the capability of being an educational experience.  It all depends on us.

In others' words:

"No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown." 
-William Penn

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tenaciously Happy - It's not Panache

Let me share some of the best advice I have ever received.

I never met the French scientist Louis Pasteur, but when I began my adventure as a missionary, the following words by him were repeated to me until I could never forget them. "Let me tell you," he said, "the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity."
Tenacity: the quality of holding fast; of being characterized by keeping a firm grip; of being persistent.

This phrase embodies a lot of wisdom, but one thing that it taught me is that my duty trumps my desire. Sometimes, I would prefer not to do hard things; I don't have the desire; my circumstances don't make it easy. There are always a miriad of excuses, but duty is something that cannot be excused.

I believe it might be a duty to be happy; to search for knowledge and beauty and find peace.

True, it is a difficult duty at times--we are like water and seek for the path of least resistence--but we can rise above our circumstances; we can choose to shape our own destinies. We can choose to be tenacious, for therein lies our strength. If I am only good when it is easy to be good, if I only forgive those who forgive me, if I am only happy on days that are 75 degrees and sunny, am I truly good, forgiving or happy?

In others' words...
"If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun....Life has never been normal....Humanity...wanted knowledge and beauty now, and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes....The insects have taken a different line: they have sought first the material welfare and the security of the hive, and presumably they have their reward. Men are different. They propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss the last new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermopylae. This is not panache; it is our nature."
- C. S. Lewis