Sunday, February 28, 2010


Last Monday as the morning clouds and winds were replaced by a wonderful, clear, breezy day I moved from hole to hole on the San Clemente Municipal golf course. I was continually distracted by the beautiful 'you can see forever' views spreading from the velvety green of the golf course and out across the endless blue sea. I was reminded that one of the blessings of living beyond the three score and ten mark in mortality is that you can take time to sit and smell the roses which were so often hastily passed by during the more hectic years of life. I sometimes regret that I was often times too busy while on the journey to appreciate at the time all the wonders around me. I am gratefully discovering in these less hectic years, that the roses I was quickly passing by, were nevertheless being imprinted on my mind and that I now have the ability to call them up at will.

While growing up in Southern Idaho, little did I realize that as the mysterious cold gloominess which shrouded the valleys was replaced by blooming colors as the temperatures allowed the shedding of layers of clothing, that I was gaining an appreciation of the renewal of life and the necessity of periods of bleakness in order to more fully be wowed by the brilliance which faithfully followed.

When my father found work in Southern California and we moved to that quiet paradise of years long ago which are now only memories, I was way too busy honing the mediocre skills of a perpetual amateur athlete to take time to be distracted from my objective of becoming a star by looking at the abundance and variety of the flora and fauna which I was running past on my way to the next sandlot or driveway game. Little did I know that my mind was being wrapped in an appreciation of all of the hues of the rainbow as I went about doing my frenetic movements through this year round revolving colors being splashed over this wondrous floral garden.

During the marvelous years when my wife and I were trying to 'raise' our children we found ourselves living in the high desert areas of Utah and Nevada I think I had at least started to see more clearly the beauties and marvels of this world, but I also know that the ensuing years have increased my appreciation for that with which I was surrounded. I was learning to look for the 'bent knee' tiny native plants which filled the so called barren floors long before men with nails in their boots began to trod upon them. I was also appreciating to some degree the massive efforts required to sustain the 'man planted' trees and crops which abound in these mountain valleys which required the moving and storing of the waters of the mountains so they could be used the whole dry summer long. I think it was during this time that I was introduced to the interpretations of the teachings of the Torah which lay upon mankind the task of completing the creative work which God started and deliberately left unfinished.

With a grateful heart I frequently call up the impressions which came as I spent those wonderful years in Mexico and Colombia. Because of the foundations gained in those years I have been able to understand, at least a little anyway, how it is that many times what we perceive to be a blessing can become a hardship, and what we look at as a hardship many times turns into a blessing. There is no doubt that those pioneers who irrigated the mountain valleys of Utah and Nevada were extremely blessed by their hardships and likewise there is little doubt that the people who live in the tropical areas of the world have been hampered somewhat in their development because of their living in a 'drop a seed anywhere and a plant will grow' environment. On the other hand, it didn't take me long to be struck with the understanding that these tropical dwellers had been blessed with the opportunity to spend time smelling the roses during the journey while the hardness and busyness of the lives of those living in harsher environs left them with lesser discretionary time to enjoy the surrounding beauty.

Lest I leave off sounding too 'Pollyarnie' I must confess that I still prefer cool breezes to cold winds. I still prefer the green hills of spring in California to the golden hills of summer or the brown hills of fall. I am grateful that I find beauty both in the planned orderliness of 'man planting' and the seeming randomness of nature's renewals of life. I am grateful that I can appreciate seeming barrenness along with the overwhelming greenery of the tropics. I am likewise grateful that I no longer have to shovel or drive in snow. And I am grateful I no longer have to putt on frozen greens and can golf in relative comfort 12 months a year.

I am grateful that all of this has been implanted in my memory bank, so that today and hopefully tomorrow I will be able to find joy and rejoicing in the beautiful world I am privileged to spend my probationary years upon. I pray that when I report to my Heavenly Father about my journey He will find it pleasing that one of the things I learned while I was here was to sit and smell the roses.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


As if we Homo sapiens didn't already have enough pride puffing principles to worry about, we go about boasting to one another that of all of Heavenly Father's creations we along with a few other very fortunate creatures have an opposing digit which we call a thumb. Sometimes we feign humility by saying such things as 'I am all thumbs' or 'that isn't for sucking,' but in the main we acclaim this dangling digit as a proof of great superiority over other less fortunate creatures. With all the pompous praise we go about heaping on our thumbs it is a wonder that it doesn't on occasion refuse to cooperate and just go on strike as a reminder to us of how important it really is. Yet in all my years I have yet to have my thumb tell the other four fingers that it has no need for them. I guess if I had to hitch a ride, the uplifted thumb might seem to be standing alone in this effort. By and large, however, the thumb is found to be in a very cooperative existence with the other extensions of the hand. Sometimes it needs only one finger, for example, to help when we desire to pick up a small piece of lint or a piece of paper. On other occasions it employees the aid of all its mates, such as in gripping or grabbing. I don't think it is very long after birth that the thumb makes the marvelous discovery that it is not a digit in opposition, but instead is found in most cases to be complimentary to the pointy, middle, ring and pinkie fingers. Whenever I think my own thumbs are beginning to be lifted up in pride, I just show them a page I have written and they quickly recognize that their contribution to whatever has been written is nothing but blank spaces.

So that I don't confirm what many of you have already suspected, that I often slip into meaningless palaver that has little or no point at all, I want to declare at this time that the reason I have written about the wonderful thumb which we sometimes take for granted is that in many ways we, like the thumb, could become proudly puffed up in a singular principle or action as if it had no need for ideas or thoughts or actions of others which seem opposing, but in reality may be complimentary and expanding, capable of magnifying our own meager contributions.

Let me try to give you a few examples which might help to clarify the point I am trying to make:

It would be as if, since we have the wonderful teachings found in the Book of Mormon, we would then to our detriment become so built up in our reverence for this book, that we might treat the Bible or the Doctrine and Covenants or the Pearl of Great Price or the Teachings of the Living Prophets or guidance of enlightened men and women, as if we have little need for them. Long ago Ezekiel declared that the word of God, regardless of the package it was found in, was to become one in our hands and in a very beautiful synergistic way bring brighter light to guide our steps than could be given from any singular contributing source. I can never receive too many inspired words from Heaven sent.

Because we find some specific taboos and recommendations about our dietary habits written in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants we could then be excused if we were to ignore all the understanding of nutrition and health which has been made available over the last 1 ¾ centuries. How many would have been denied meaningful years of progress if we had declared to Louis Pasteur or Clara Barton or Washington Irving or the countless others who have dedicated themselves to the understanding of what is needed to live a greatly extended, productive and healthy life that we have no need of thee because we have a Word of Wisdom. I need all the help I can find to be the most I can be.

Because we become so enamored with giving wonderful service to our brothers and sisters we can thereby be excused if we hold in lesser value the principles of faith and hope. We must always remember that our faith will be greater because we involve ourselves in charitable actions and that our charitable actions will become a more frequent part of our lives as our faith increases. We must never forget the interdependence and introprogressive dependence which all principles have to one another. They are indeed one great whole.

Because we have been privileged to live in lands which might provide some freedoms to learn and advance, that others who live in less fortunate circumstances, therefore, must have been of much lesser valiancy in their former estate. We have little, or perhaps in reality, no idea the why of our time and place of birth into mortality; but we do know that our Father in Heaven has placed us all on this earth with a stewardship to value, respect, love and care for one another and by all means to never demean nor diminish the eternal value of any of our brothers and sisters. We all belong to a universal family and have need of the best from one another.

Therefore, on those days when we might be feeling a bit 'thumby' or just a little too full of ourselves and our uniqueness, it might be well to take a deep breath and remind ourselves of our constant dependence on others, their contributions and their ideas. I have an idea that my own life will be much more if I am willing to acknowledge the wonderfulness of the all the 'extensions' which Heavenly Father has surrounded me with to make my passage full and beautiful and joyful.

Thank you all for all the meaningfulness you have brought to my life.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


My mother gave most of her advice and counsel in the form of short proverbial statements. One of those sayings that was often directed to me; although I am certain it was totally undeserved and misdirected, was; “the road to hell is paved with good intentions. As in, “you didn’t finish your homework…the road to…” or “you didn’t brush your teeth…the road…” or “you went to sleep without saying your prayers…the…” or “you didn’t mow the lawn…” This all took place before I reached my teenage years, so you can imagine how many times “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” came up in our verbal exchanges during those ‘rebellious’ years. I'm not sure, but I may have had scaring dreams about how near the gates of fire my well paved path had been laid. Lest this self deprecating confession session becomes the major issue of this paper, let me get to the central issue I wish to write about today.

Although I think I understood and still understand the meaning of my mother’s words, I also think because of the frequency I had of experiencing the ringing of this phrase in my ears, I have been moved to ponder during numerous moments upon the principle of ‘intentions’ and where they might or might not lead.

First: I don’t think all intentions are good, but come in a rather endless continuum ranging from the most righteous to the most evil.

Second: I think that intentions which are never acted upon affect the non diligent creator of the intention regardless of which side of the continuum the intention might be found and that the paved stones do not necessarily always lead in a downward direction.

Third: I don’t think that with our limited wisdom we are gifted with the clairvoyance to know where our self initiated intentions lie on the intentions continuum or where they might lead whether they are acted upon or not.

Fourth: I think that there are many very good intentions that we think of, that never should be acted upon since one’s actions might lead to the loss of an opportunity for a brother or sister to grow.

Fifth: I think that there are many people who have very bad intentions and are continually active in trying to bring them to fruition and that through acting upon these bad intentions they put more stones on their paths to Hades than good intentions which are never acted upon.

I have noticed that the intentions of others whether they act upon them or not or whether they be good or bad have little lasting affect upon my life unless I make allowance for that affect and any residual emotion which I might allow to linger.

Seventh: I think that those most deeply blessed or cursed as a result of any intention are the creators and actuators of that intention and others receive only temporary and partial blessings or cursings.

Eighth: I eventually have come to understand that the place that Dante explored in his ‘Hell’ and frightened me in my young conscious and unconscious mind, does not exist nor ever has existed. So I came to wonder whether by my intentions I was paving a way to somewhere or to nowhere. If the answer turned out to be nowhere then the question of ‘intentions’ was of no importance all along.

Ninth: On the other hand, in Colombia it has often been said; “the intention is the only thing that counts.”

My intention in reporting about my pondering upon ‘intentions’ was never meant to excuse my slothfulness nor to denigrate the borrowed and oft repeated wisdom of my mother, but I have discovered that is just the way I flow through life; forever driven to go deeper and broader until I finally reach a point where I have to ask myself if what I have been moved to ponder about is really worth the conclusions I have come to. Thankfully, I generally find that some growth has taken place and that I arrive at a place in my thoughts which, if hearkened to, places a small stone on the Highway to Heaven.

What would I inscribe upon the small stone which I have finally felt comfortable in adding to the pathway to Heaven after having contemplated over the years upon intentions? How do I fulfill my desire and feel secure in being on the positive side of the intention continuum? How do I know that I am laying stones which will guide me back to My Father’s presence? How do I know that the stepping stones I am laying will not become stumbling blocks to my neighbors?

At the present time in my journey this is what I find written upon this small stone: “I must diligently strive to have Spirit guided intentions and Spirit guided actions which I should endeavor to fulfill to the extent I might currently be capable. That through diligent obedience to this Spirit influenced direction of intentions and actions I will be lengthening my path leading to a very real place which my Father in Heaven has prepared. That while I focus on my concerns of constructing this heavenward path, I do not in so doing create obstacles which my brothers and sisters might find difficult to overcome during their Heavenly homeward journey.”