- By Elder Thatcher

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

Friday, January 28, 2011

Subtle Realities - Fruits of the Spirit

Recently, I visited a good friend in the hospital.  She is elderly and having numerous health problems.  As my companion and I came into the room, she was awake and sitting up and we began to talk.  She is the type of person who, in her earlier life, was outspoken and powerful, but at the same time has very tender feelings and has suffered much.  She is kind-hearted and thoughtful and she trusts God. 

While laying on her hospital bed, she was connected to a miriad of wires and tubes and the like--electronic pads and interveinous whatnot.  A screen above her and to her right showed her blood pressure, temperature, heart-rate, and a number of other things that I don't understand.  All I know is that when graph shows a consistent pattern of troughs and peaks, things are good.  I also know that a good resting heart-rate is somewhere around 70 beats per minute.  Hers read in the mid 90's. 

We took two seats a few feet from the foot of her bed.  She was very willing to talk.  She seemed exhausted but capable--pained but driven. 
She had been there for about a week. 

After talking for a few minutes, I opened up my scriptures and shared with her several of my favorite passages from the Book of Mormon in an attempt to bring her comfort.  I assured her that I know that her Savior knows the pain that she was dealing with, that He knows her sickness and He knows her desires, diligence, and dedication.  She nodded quietly in gratitude. 

I had glanced at the heart monitor several times since sitting down.  Her pulse had normalized and was reading between 75-80 bpm.  She had been seated normally before we got there.  Her level of physical exertion hadn't really changed.  But I could physically see the peace that came over her.  I felt it, but it struck me that I was able to see it. 

Paul taught that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." (Gal. 5:22-23)

Or, in others' words,

"[The Holy Spirit] quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use.  It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature.  It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity.  It develops beauty of person, form and features.  It tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling.  It develops and invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man.  It strengthens, invigorates, and gives tone to the nerves.  In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being." 
-Parly P. Pratt

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Strait and Narrow

I draw on others' words a lot.  The most useful are those that belong to Jesus Christ or his representatvies.  I've been having a lot of thoughts this week about a certain text from Christ's "Sermon on the Mount."  In Matthew 7:13-14, the Man of Galilee said,
"Enter ye in at the astrait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

A while back a friend of mine taught me to solve the Rubik's cube.  I'll be honest; I never ever would have figured it out by myself.  There are certain patterns that must be followed exactly if you are to solve it.  There's no way of getting around it; you have to move it in the right ways even when it appears not to make sense.   But as long as you follow the patterns, it is the same every time and it goes from chaos to order. 

In the same way, God gives us a "way" to obtain happiness.  Humanity has spent ages searching for this "way."  Jesus Christ declared, quite boldly that the way was strait or strict, and that it was narrow, and that he himself was the way, meaning that he is the example of someone who perfectly follows the "way" and that through him it is possible to follow the "way." 

Heber C. Kimball taught,

"You cannot be happy unless you submit to the law of God, and to the principles of His government. 
"When a person is miserable, wretched, and unhappy in himself, put him in what circumstances you please, and he is wretched still.  If a person is poor, and composes his mind, and calmly submits to the providences of God, he will feel cheerful and hpapy in all circumstances, if he continues to keep the commandments of God." 

Similarly, Marion G. Romney stated,

"These commandments are not arbitrary edicts of a vindictive tyrant.  They but set forth the laws and ordinances which produce--as a matter of cause and effect--peace, success, and happiness."  I like this idea.  I love these others' words.  If we are to treat life as a Rubik's cube that we want to be orderly, we simply have to follow the pattern. 

"We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre:  rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision....Life is not like a river but like a tree....Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good." 

                -C.S. Lewis                                            

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Holy Ground- Misunderstood Miracles.

The time has come for me to share one of my all-time favorite quotes. 

This comes from an extended poem by Elizabeth Barret Browning entitled "Aurora Leigh."  Browning is known as one of the most successful female poets in history and a biographer lauded her as "the most philisophical poet" and called her life "a Gospel of applied Christianity." 
Let me show you why these accolades are well-due. 

"And truly, I reiterate, . . nothing's small!

No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim:
And,–glancing on my own thin, veined wrist,–
In such a little tremour of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more, from the first similitude."

Let me explicate what this means by quoting others' words.

"I am impressed as Moses brought Israel into the Sinai, which is a desolate piece of land.  They ran out of water and began to complain, "Were that we were in Egypt where we had all the water we could drink."  And God showed unto Moses water and Moses led the children of Israel to the water.  And there before them was all the water they could drink.  And when they drank of the water it was bitter.  They couldn't drink it.  It sat there and mocked them. It sat there and mocked their thirst.  and they cried out, "O Moses why did you lead us here?  And Moses cut down the tree and placed it into the water, as God instructed, and the water was made sweet.
"I am intrigued it was a tree.  Now if you had ever been to Sinai, you would be intrigued it was a tree as well.  In fact, I often tell my students the miracle was not that Moses saw a burning bush but that there was a bush there at all.  This is a really dry, parched area of land.  A tree.  How did a tree get there?  When did the tree get there?  It is possible, that if you and I had seen God's miracle we would have never even recognized it.  Years and years before it was needed a seed blew accross dry land.  Years and years before it was needed it fell into a crevice where there was moisture where it could take root.  If you and I would have seen that we would have said, "This is not God, this is not a miracle, it is just nature."  And as the tree became a sapling and sprouted its beautiful elaves we would have said, "This is not God, this is not a miracle, it is just nature." And as it grew to become a tree we would have said, "This is not God, this is not a miracle, it is just nature."  But isn't it interesting that when Moses arrived the right tree was there that it made bitterness become sweet.  Brothers and Sisters, do not discount God.  It may appeart that nature is taking its course.  It may appear that history is simply moving along its way.  But I assure you that God has already planted and when you and I need them those trees will be ready, and it will make the bitterness become sweet unto us." 
-Dr. Richard D. Draper