Sunday, August 3, 2014

Breaking out of here

This post was started back in April, but never finished. 

Spring break 2014 found us breaking out of the winter gloom and heading for the sun of southern (eastern?) Utah--destination Moab, Arches, Goblin Valley, and camping bliss (so we told ourselves). It had been 3 years since we last camped, and the memory of the 6 year old vomiting, J's sudden onset of strep throat, and the dirty 12-month old, crawling everywhere in the mud and dirt was finally settling into the distant recesses of our memories. 

Until the first night camping, when we froze (somehow the tarp that covers our tent was separated from the tent in the move) and when H woke up in the night and promptly lost his dinner all over the sleeping bag. Thankfully, because of the freezing temperatures, we had covered him with an extra sleeping bag, so the clean-up wasn't entirely miserable, and thankfully, the vomiting was a 1-time occurrence. 

The rest of the trip was spent hiking to Delicate Arch and a few other arches: 

We also spent a fun--but extremely windy--afternoon in Goblin Valley. It was so windy, though, that the dust was everywhere and stung our eyes badly.

Because of the wind, only a few of us (the non-wimpy ones) ventured into the TOTALLY AWESOME slot canyon next to Goblin Valley. We paid the price on the way back, hiking with our hands over our eyes.

All Is Well

Written the night of July 23, but never finished/posted:

I spent the summer after the first year of my master's degree program as an editorial intern for The Liahona, or the International magazine of the church. This summer just happened to be the sesquicentennial of the pioneers' entrance into the Salt Lake Valley, and the magazine and the church in general was saturated with pioneers. My work days were filled with reading and editing pioneer stories, often the same stories over and over again. I grew thoroughly sick of the original pioneers, modern-day pioneers, and everything remotely "pioneer."  

Now that my Summer of the Pioneers is receding farther into my past, though, I've come to once again love the pioneers and the symbolism of their journeys and their stories. This year, I happened upon this talk , given by Tessa Meyer Santiago, a fellow instructor of mine at BYU back in 1997, at a BYU devotional. Tessa speaks about the significance of pioneer stories to her, a convert from South Africa, and to all of us. In her application to all of us, she says, "Saints under covenant must be devoted to the concept of journeying, not destination." She laments that often
In our zeal we fail to realize that we are judged not on whether we reach the Salt Lake Valley but on whether we wore ourselves out in the effort to bring ourselves and all for whom we are responsible as far along the trail as possible. . . .  We cannot stay in our Nauvoo forever: we must wade the Mississippi River, join the wagon train, and begin the journey. Ultimately though, this covenant journey is about willingness and worthiness to enter the kingdom of God.  
In the end, the Lord doesn't care if the pioneers made it to the Salt Lake Valley. He cares if they began the journey and wore themselves out in the process of journeying.

When I was in graduate school, one of my good friends who entered the program at the same time as me was (is) married to a Congregationalist minister. She also had a Mormon roommate at Boston University. She told me that she and her husband and daughter still visit her old roommate and her family when they can, and when they visit, they go to church with them. "We love your pioneer hymn," she said immediately upon learning that I am Mormon. "It's one of our favorite hymns of all time."  I never asked her why exactly she loves "Come, Come, Ye Saints," but if I had to guess, I would say that it has something to do with the truths in the song--the truths about journeying, about the nature of our God, and about the nature of life in general:

  • We must find the joy in the journey, as we "wend [our] way" and strive to drive out "useless cares."
  • God will help us--Grace will be with us, "our God will never us forsake," and He has prepared a place for us.
  • Despite what happens, "All is well! All is well!" 


“Those who write are writers. Those who wait are waiters.” 
― A. Lee Martinez

“And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.” 
― Ray BradburyZen in the Art of Writing

“Writing is the great invention of the world.” 
― Abraham LincolnDiscoveries and Inventions: A Lecture by Abraham Lincoln Delivered in 1860

"It is easy to lose sight of the fact that writers do not write to impart knowledge to others; rather, they write to inform themselves."
--Judith Guest, Foreward to Writing Down the Bones

"I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life."
--Natalie Golberg, Writing Down the Bones