Sunday, September 16, 2012


The boulders in the vacant lot next to our church building in Pocatello, Idaho were so enticing to play among. The scar on the inside of my right wrist is a forever reminder that among the wonderful rocks were hazards left from carelessly tossed bottles by negligent strollers. The sound of the nearby Snake River made it easy to imagine we were exploring in a wilderness far away from home.

Climbing down the waterfall in the park across from our home in American Falls, Idaho and riding across the expanse of the park’s range on our imaginary horses as Hoot Gibson or Red Ryder filled many delightful days with my friend, Ivan Charles. Later in life it mattered little how the height of the waterfall had shrunk or the acreage of the park had diminished the fond memories remained bright.

The corner lot behind the drug store and barbershop on Willow Street in Long Beach, California became a universal field for the whole neighborhood. In season we challenged each other in games of football and baseball. Basketball was always played in one of the two driveway courts with their rickety backboards and bent rims. It was sad when our skills brought restrictions from the owners of the corner stores because of the doubles bouncing off the back walls of their establishments and we had to retreat to Lincoln elementary school down the block. There was always the core four of us to whom it mattered not at all that we went to church in congregations filled with Jews, Catholics, Methodists or Mormons.

Whether we were walking along railroad tracks or wandering the banks of the flood control we were always on our way to some far off city. Cities never reached except in our minds. When we heard them mentioned on the radio or read about them in the newspaper, they were places we had visited. Those were days when being with that special friend was always more meaningful because the joys of the moment were shared with so many.

These and many other events of my early life which happened as I grew up will never be historically significant enough to be chronicled in the archives of the great events of the American movement. Nevertheless, they are tremendously important to me and what I am today. I become increasingly convinced that what we are today is, in many ways a now statement reflecting the impact of all the then statements of our eternal yesterdays.

If today the world seems to us to be full of shut doors and critical people, it is probably due to the collection of denied opportunities from doubting and fearful stewards who have etched their prejudices upon one’s life’s journal.

However, if today’s world seems to us to be full of open doors and opportunities, it is probably due to the collection of non-preorganized opportunities provided by positive stewards who have etched their influences upon one’s life’s journal.

It is all too easy to look back on life from one’s personal perspective and say yea, thus it is – thus it should be for all. However, reality demands that there probably is no best way to grow up or one sure way to insure a life full of positive remembrances.

All of that being said, it is wonderful to look back on life with gratefulness for all the then factors which allow me now to be at peace:

Living in a time and place which provided the safety, freedom and grandeur where unsupervised memorable experiences could be enjoyed.

Blessed with parents who under-scheduled my formative years, leaving me with the free self-time which could be spent as I desired exploring the verities of my surroundings.

Having teachers who sought to stimulate minds unrestricted by mandated lesson plans, daily providing lessons which could be constantly adapted to accommodate a cornucopia of ever expanding ideas and ideals.

Attending church where values were taught which gave perimeters to life’s choices which provided the balances necessary for agency to continue and to flourish.

The world turns and the boulders, waterfalls, vacant lots and friends which are my then have hopefully become the now of another generation. I know that the world is indeed a different place than the one I grew up in when I was free to explore the hills on the west side of Pocatello, Idaho where I came to realize I had a real disdain for all snakes and most creepy crawlies.

As I watch the NOW children being rushed from league to league and lesson to lesson under the guise of giving them every opportunity to develop and advance, I can’t help but wonder when they have time to eat the figs and persimmons off the wild trees on the vacant lots of their lives. It becomes understandable why they often turn to artificial means to escape the constancy of life’s demands.

I would hope that the children of NOW might in some way find paths to explore in a land as free and grand and full of pitfalls as that of yesteryear's.

I would hope that the parents of the NOW children might un-schedule some time in their daily activities so that this generation might also have time for some self-exploration of the earth’s verities.

I would hope that the teachers of the NOW children would seek spaces within the mandated curriculum's of today, where they can stimulate their minds with ideas and ideals which will influence future generations.

I would hope that the churches of the NOW children would provide balancing perimeters from their pulpits which will insure the continuation of agency.

Hard questions arise, which need reviewing often. Perhaps providing answers wherein might lie the responsibility and legacy of history – providing the opportunity to those who follow time to explore the positive ‘thens’ which will lead to future peaceful ‘nows.’


  1. Agency:
    Being is having become.
    Back then, each shaping event was shaped by it's surrounding and preceding influential events; each shaping the next.
    Becoming is being.
    So we were, so we are, so we are becoming, so we will be. And so we consider and make choices.

    Paul Maddox

  2. Bill, Your writing takes me back to the safe and tranquil 50's. I can still hear my mother saying, "Tommy be home tonight when the street lights go on." It was a time of great freedom and exploration, and the grandest of times........

    Tom Borgquist

  3. What beautiful words. Brought back so many memories of childhood.
    You would have loved our day yesterday--the first Interfaith Women's Conference hosted by the Irvine Stake. 26 churches were in attendance. During the opening hour we heard from Janelle Slipp (Saddleback church) a women doctor from the Islamic Center, another Dr. from Catholic church; prayer by someone from the Christian Science church and music from different faith including Sikh women. The workshops were provided by LDS and 9 workshops were given by members of other faiths. 500 women gathered together--no longer strangers, but friends. It was a glorious day.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.
    Carolyn Hildt

  4. Thanks again Brother Riley for your thoughts. I know I don't see you hardly ever but I want you to know you are an influence for good in my life and have been for many years. Your example and love of truth and goodness is evident in your life. You are a light and example of a true disciple of Christ. When I think of you one of my favorite scriptures comes to mind found in Doctrine & Covenants 88:40. My desire is to follow Jesus yet it is also nice to have others to follow who know the path He is on to show me the way.

    Hope your health and family are all well.

    Your friend

    Brian Andre

  5. Buenas Tardes.........

    Me impresiona ver como maneja el español...hay palabras que normalmente no las utilizo.felicitaciones.........que buenos pensamientos..como el mail que le envié como era antes y como es ahora,,,,,,,el hecho de ver que no valoramos nuestra tierra y abusamos de ella y de la ´pobre naturaleza.el hecho de ver que se ha perdido la imaginación porque no nos detenemos a ver lo que nos rodea porque nuestros ojos solo ve imágenes en los celulares y computadores y etc,no debemos perder la costumbre de ver la vida con los verdaderos ojos de el corazó nuevo gracias y un feliz día

    Clara Torres Gonzalez

  6. There's a sadness here--a retrospection of one's life with a note of sadness. Perhaps there is a note of joy in the sadness that's one's life is closing and cannot be relived, but was worthwhile--a slight wishing that life was how it used to be. Maybe it echoes a disconnect from the new generation of children and how they play and how they face the world today as you did not have to. There are many ways to grow up.:) Trust in the creative human spirit.

    Barbara Petersen

  7. My typical "little girl" life as a child could never compare to the adventures you , and Don, had. My life was Idyllic However, may I just add an Amen to your statements. It does still apply to both type of adventures, in both time periods.

    Jean Seavey

  8. Saturday, September 22, 2012 9:30 PM
    Como siempre muy agradecido por sus pensamientos, el proximo fin de semana los utilizare en una capacitacion que tengo en el Distrito de Manizales

    Abrazos y Exitos

    eulises lotero torres