Sunday, November 28, 2010


Some years ago we had the privilege of visiting one of the great museums of the world. As I wandered among the exhibits now and then I found my emotions doing unusual dips and rises. There was a particular section of the endless exhibits which brought on a deep feeling of melancholy which felt like it was taking me into a chasm of despair. It was strange to be walking among some of the great works of the centuries and being overcome with a feeling that I was also witnessing a testimony to man’s sometime futile, sometimes semi-successful attempts to preside over this world with meaningful and proper dominion.

I remember one particularly extensive exhibit which contained row after row of musical instruments. Some of them had brass engraved signs which identified them as masterpieces brought into existence by the hands of rare and talented masters. The instruments silently rested in their glass protective cases as though they were monuments to the artisans who had created them.

As I meandered among the rows of these polished and shining instruments I saw several other brass engraved signs reminding all visitors to maintain in a state of reverence and to keep all conversations to a minimum and at subdued levels. I was suddenly struck with the thundering silence which surrounded me. I felt like I was being engulfed in rumbling soundlessness. Then I was struck with the greatness of the irony. There I was in the midst of an almost total display of the historical efforts of collective mankind to produce instruments of melodious sounds and all that was to be felt was that emptiness which can accompany silence. So many violins, trumpets, guitars and pianos and a corresponding total absence of music!

Many times since that day the sight of a violin lying protected in its case or a piano with its key cover shut in protection of the ivories and blacks have had a tendency to trip a remembrance of those days of wandering among the protected instrumental masterpieces. At times, I have then been taken into a symbolic journey in my mind. I see clearly that while it may be true that an unstrung, untuned, unplayed violin may well be considered a work of art and should be preserved and protected, in the end it will never fulfill its purpose of existence while sequestered in its glass shrine. The creator’s genius can never be fully appreciated until another gifted master applies bow to string and enchanting melodies erupt. A piano is merely a piece of furniture unless the keys are exposed, skillfully pressed and hammers contact strings in cleverly arranged compositions. Then understanding comes of the truly wonderful instrument that well trained hands framed, shaped, assembled, strung and tuned.

As we wander through life we often find ourselves as instruments lying silently with untapped gifts and talents waiting for us to unwrap them and share them with family, friends and strangers. Sadly, personal gifts lying unused and encased within can also cause dips into despair. We look in the mirror and see an image reflected or through a window and see a brother who has allowed through decisions his potential to rust and blow away. A feeling of remorse comes as we see a sister whose talents remain a gift received, but in stillness lies unwrapped. It would be wonderful if sadness would sharpen desires and stimulate efforts to do the work necessary to unenshrine our latent gifts and in our small way enliven the environment in which we are blessed to exist. The lessons of time have demonstrated that it is a rare bird who is able to appreciate the brilliance of its plumage while sitting on a stump in the darkness of the forest. Many times we need the touch of the Master’s hand to bring out the wonderful treasures which lie buried in our souls. Many times talents are left short of their potential because of the lack of applause from the audiences who have been recipients of the recently revealed rhapsodies. It takes but little pondering to understand that there are few of us who will fully develop our inherited gifts while sitting in a dusty corner unaided by heavenly influences or fellow strugglers. Well-crafted instruments will never reach the fulfillment of the purpose of their creation without caring hands which polish and tune, or skilled hands which strum and finger.

Each of us has been well framed by an Eternal Exalted Artisan. Therefore, our inherited potential is unlimited or at least far less limited than our earth-experience developed inhibitions seem to shout to our souls. Like all other things created, we need to dip deep within until we discover that ‘one gift’ which has been promised to all, then endure until the gift has been opened, polished, strung and tuned.

As ‘our note’ is added harmoniously to the symphony of our sphere, there will be joy in the halls where our Heavenly Father resides, happiness in the homes where we are privileged to meet and greet and perhaps pure-pleasure will become more prominent among the people.

We should all pray that heaven sent reminders will come and help us understand that we are children of Deity who have been given a gift and we have a responsibility to never allow our gift to be encased in silence, never having added our trump to the heralding of the heavens.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


In a world where one’s every waking moment seems to be scheduled from sunrise to sunset, from seminary to soccer, we are perpetually propagandized by a profit driven press with its tendency to accentuate and sensationalize the worries and wrongs of the world; a world where the media marches over the hopefulness of the masses, frightened that an accusatory finger might not be pointed at some evil or intolerant action in society. There should be little surprise that most of us are hard pressed to conscientiously and consistently openly express our gratitude as we struggle through this confused and contentious era.

“The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man.” Joseph F Smith

Wasn’t it wonderful that Franklin D. Roosevelt took pen in hand the day after Christmas in 1941 and signed into law the establishment of the fourth Thursday in November as the official day of Thanksgiving celebration? The day had been the standard for most citizens of the United States of America for some time, but there remained some who held their feasts of bounteous harvest on other days. It was just a little sad that some of the motivation for a single united day of a Thanksgiving holiday was a need to boost the economy. I think these law makers could not have had the foggiest idea that the long weekend would open the calendar for the development of ‘BLACK FRIDAY’ and its unchecked consumerism.

Gratefully, we now had a day when we could pause from the pressures of our daily grind. Enter the day of tradition bound turkey toil, gluttony and tube watching. We traditionally pause momentarily and mechanically to mention at least one object of our gratefulness before the consumption commences.

Likewise, we should all be grateful to those who have extended the Thanksgiving Day into a season, which gives us more than one day to turn from being one of the nine lepers who did not confess the hand of the Lord in their cleansing and return with the ‘faithful one’ to give thanks unto the source of our every blessing.

As we put away the wailing witches and jack-o-lanterns and haunted houses and begin to transition the table top into a country village blessed with over flowing abundance, we pause if but briefly to give thanks for the daily bread which like the pot blessed by Elisha never empties, resolving if only in some small way to add to a widow’s empty plate.

As we wander the aisles of the market selecting one delicacy after another we might pause and give thanks that we have plenty and enough, enough for a generous offering for those who have none at all.

As we punch the time clock on Wednesday afternoon we gratefully think about the work bench which will greet us Monday next, praying that somehow the way might be opened for others to have meaningful employment.

As we travel over the river and through the woods we give thanks for the colorful variety of desert and forest which give beauty to the earth’s vistas, hoping to be more conscious of the stewardship we all have to be guardians of our planet’s majesty and abundance.

As friends and family gather ‘round the extra leaf expanded table we give thanks for every kind countenance in our view and resolve in some way to strive to alleviate the plight of those lonely souls who are not so blessed.

As our eyes, mesmerized by the umpteenth football game, begin to droop, we give thanks for these times we have to relax and re-create, remembering that there are many who can never cease laboring for their scant existences.

As we inventory our personal peculiarities we give thanks to those who daily forgive our oddities and extend arms to embrace and accept us with all lovingness, vowing to be just a little more tolerant of those who see the world through different lenses.

As we sit in assemblies of worship we give thanks for the faith promoting synergistic magic which comes when even a few are gathered in His name, resolving to befriend and invite others to this spiritual feast.

Now that we have expanded our confession of thankfulness to a little season let us more diligently strive to extend the season into a yearlong jubilation. A jubilation where daily we are found giving forth in song, prayer and silent thoughts praises of gratitude for that which has been provided and that for which we must struggle. Let us live lives of unfailing gratitude, showing by giving succor, sustenance and sympathy to those we find in need, becoming like the lone faithful leper who returned to give thanks, how truly grateful we are.

“To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.” Thomas S. Monson

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Written with tongue well planted in cheek and should be read in like manner!!

As if being a victim of the natural increase of velocity of the passing of time which comes with each additional birthday weren’t enough, now we also increasingly see ourselves being inflicted with the continual creep of the commercially crunched calendar.

I want to declare my official surrender! I wave the white flag! I give up! I throw up my arms! I take a knee and yield my neck in submission to the monsters of merchandizing that have taken four wonderful holidays and amalgamated them into one continuous rapid midnight shift reshelving event.

I can see calendar printers rubbing their palms sweatily together as they anticipate the increase of profits as the need for additional calendars which accommodate the change of information which has traditionally accompanied the dates of October 31, the fourth Thursday in November, December 25 and January 1.

In the crunched new world of holiday domination which has been taken over and is ruled by merchants we will no longer have to worry about what to do for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. We will simply shrug our shoulders and passively submit to what has creepily been invading our lives for many years: the propagandized and popularized humdrum conglomerated celebration of Neweenthanksmas.

There will, of course, be casualties as the devious crunching of the calendar continues. We will no longer have to buy a turkey for thanksgiving and a ham for Christmas since the sit down family dinner is being rapidly replaced by a quick drive through at the local cholesterol generating factory which lovingly remains open 24/7. But wait, not so fast – once again the commercializers have anticipated this eventuality and as usual are ‘way out in front of the consumer.

Having developed and made popular the Turducken we don’t have to stretch our imaginations very far to realize that by stuffing the chicken with a small ham all bases will be covered and the farmers will be able to continue barely scratching out a living. If you start with a large enough turkey and add some candy corn and hot wings as additional side dishes the leftovers should easily last from the arrival of the first Trick or Treater until well after Boxing Day and all will be pacified. Be careful about keeping the brussel sprouts more than a couple of days and the parsnips can be thrown out immediately.

Let us consider the Christmas Tree/Hanukkah Bush industry. Growers will have to hustle to buy up burned over forest lands in order to corner the market on the universal Neweenthanksmas ‘Lacquered Charcoal Decorating Remnant.’ Everyone should immediately understand how this new universal twig will satisfy the needs of all during the never-ending holiday. The ‘Lacquered Charcoal Decorating Remnant’ was once a beautiful green pine and now has the dead after-harvest look once required by the now extinct holidays of bygone years. This will not be as significant an adjustment as one might at first think, since plastic plant producers have already made deep inroads into the nonessentiality of using fresh trees made the natural way.

At first glance one might think the problem of decorations would be the most insurmountable. But, once again the clever marketeers have gotten ‘way out in front of us. For decades they have been washing our brains as they have made sure that the sale items leftover from the last holiday were shelved very close to the new stuff for the current (a nano amount of time) season which is then blatantly bordered on the other side by preview items of the newest and greatest for the upcoming season. Very subtlely (well maybe not so subtlely) they have implanted on our grey matter ‘the conglomerated decoration,’ so that we will easily transition to putting up the Neweenthanksmas decorations in August and not even think about taking them down until the end of January.

This will save some trees, since ‘Honey Do’ lists will be shortened, therefore, using less paper. Of course there will also have to be adjustments to the regulations and restrictions of some home owner associations which currently make some of their revenue from residents who tarry more than a day or two in the undecorating process. Fret not over small details. After all, all must be done to meet the manipulative managing of the merchants!

It doesn’t take much of a clairvoyant to realize that once Neweenthanksmas is well established and accepted by even the most traditional among us that Newvalenweenthanksmas can’t be very far behind.

We should all be able to see where the Mega Market Super Store merchandizers desire to take us. Have little doubt; they will not cease their campaign until they have achieved their ultimate desire of having one continuous year-long holiday with a mega crayon box of themes bleeding together as if the crayons had been left too close to the heating vent.

Enough is enough! Let it stop here and now! This madness must come to an end! We must today declare our resolve! From this day forth we will give each holiday its deserved space, separate and undefiled by that which just concluded or that which is about to be celebrated. We will gird up our loins and go forth to combat the destructive designs of those who would merchandize us into one continuous undefined yearlong Newvaleneastmemorialindepenweenthanksmas perpetual holiday!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


The pussy willows escaping the lush green of their parent pad sending their brown pods skyward, exploding their ripened cotton fibers into the breezes along the
river assuring a bounteous revival.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Watching the Bing cherry tree’s blossoms bring forth little green nubs which all too slowly expand into crimson balls, flavor-fully exploding over fingers and dribbling down chins beneath grateful grins.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Playing never ending games of fetch with a pup of questionable heritage who seems ever willing to retrace steps to and fro bringing laughter to the lips of his too oft’ neglectful master.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Going fishing with little desire to remove trout from their current escaping coves where the sunlight dances off of their backs and fills vistas with marvelous shimmering rainbows.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Smelling the freshened earth as renewing rains brings luster to leaves, empties the skies of the particles of pollutants of ungrateful populations and gives glimpses of a long ago more virgin earth.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Walking reverently among trees which gave shade to forefather’s forefathers, who faith driven, wandered similar paths wondering about beginnings and endings, and with their posterity were left short of knowing where the path ultimately leads.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Standing on sky-penetrating mountain’s highest peaks with horizon-less splendor spreading below catching a quick glimpse of how small the crumbling creations of the created are when viewed form the magnificence of the Creator.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Marveling at movements of fingers as they dance and grasp their way through the day, feet that point ever forward with confident assurance, mobility which makes possible ever continuing newness to the journey.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Admiring artists, athletes, painters, singers, writers, dancers and all who through prodigy or dedicated effort have risen above the masses to stages which for most are dreams of youth long lost in wasted moments of wanting and waiting.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Feeling grateful and guilty while counting blessings of a life sheltered, clothed and fed while observing the suffering of brothers and sisters who have spent countless days homeless, naked and hungry making room for both those who can give and those who receive.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Reading, studying, pondering observations of those who bless generations with thoughts which bend and expand understandings, making the passages of mortality measurably more meaningful.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Gratefully receiving daily gifts of life’s sustaining brilliant orb and night-time sparkling canopy reminders of The Magnificent Maker.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world!

Looking beyond the confines of life’s cabins, witnessing flowing grains budding into bounteous harvests soon to fill kitchens, then tables, then grateful mouths with delightful delicacies later to tell tales of best Thanksgivings ever.

Yes indeed it is a beautiful world.