Sunday, November 18, 2012


While we were in Colombia, we received an assignment from the Area Presidency to kneel in prayer with our spouse when we retired for the night and once again when we arose the next morning. Both of us having been in the habit of individual personal prayers in the morning and ‘family prayer’ at night, I remember thinking that it was kind of interesting that one had to break into the inner prayers of the soul in order to participate in these more formal offerings of gratitude and pleadings for help. Since our assignment in Colombia was to care for the safety and welfare of several hundred young men and women, as well as trying to inspire them to be inspired to do the important work they had been called to do, the prayers in my mind, heart and soul were close to being continuous.

As I started to think about the upcoming day which we annually set apart as a day to give thanks, that same feeling of interrupting an activity in order to formally do the activity came over me once again. Somehow on the Thursday next I will need to change from my regular conscious and subliminal thankfulness and move to a formal outward demonstration of the many things I am grateful for. (I am sure, somewhere or somehow, there is some logic in my musings.)

Anyway, since I can't think of how my thankfulness will change this coming Thursday I will just go through a partial list of things which I am grateful for all the days of my life.

I am grateful for the constant but growing witness, which is born to me of the Holy Spirit, that I have loving Heavenly Parents who are concerned with my progress and development during this brief mortal stay.

I am grateful for Jesus the Christ who was willing to pay the price involved with an Infinite Atonement so that The Plan of Happiness, Salvation and Exaltation might be brought to fruition for all who are willing to abide by the required conditions.

I am grateful for the words of Apostles and Prophets, which have been received through revelation and preserved as a guide and direction in instructing us how we should conduct ourselves in our daily walk.

I am grateful for a loving spouse who has spent her life helping me strive to become what I need to become, for freely sustaining and supporting my efforts and for her nurturing and nursing nature.

I am grateful for friends and loved ones who have surrounded me throughout life and given me examples and reminders of the proper ways and principles of meaningful relationships.

I am grateful to have the understanding of the importance that the roles of Father, Mother and Children play in our development and progress as we prepare to live in Infinite Eternal Families.

I am grateful for a body which has eyes to see, ears to hear and limbs which help me fulfill my daily tasks.

I am grateful when I hear of one who was blind who is now able to see, they who were deaf who now can hear, and those who now reach and run who once were unable.

I am grateful for the warmth provided by shelter and clothing.

I am grateful when warmth provided by shelter and clothing is provided for those who want.

I am grateful for the nourishment which comes from the ever flowing cornucopia of the gifts of this fertile globe.
I am grateful when these gifts are shared and bring nourishment to those who hunger.

I am grateful for the technologically advanced age in which I am privileged to live and how it miraculously brings faraway friends, loved ones and places instantly to my senses. (In a strange way this cyber space stuff seems to give me just a small glimpse of what Omnipresence might be like.)

I am grateful for the beautiful variety which blesses this planet and the many ways which we are able to appreciate it. We can circle the globe in a matter of hours. Some even have the privilege of circumnavigating the planet in minutes. In relative comfort we visit places which were either unknown or unimagined by our ancestors.

I am grateful for governments which provide safety and freedom to their citizens so that an atmosphere is provided which allows that people to fulfill the purposes of their existence.

I am grateful for each person whose nature is changed from being contentious, angry and warlike to one which is driven by publishing peace and loving their neighbor.

I am grateful for the understanding that all mankind share a universal kinship, and that the Father of us all has put us here to see if we will relate to one another lovingly or hatefully.

I am grateful for a day being set apart when we can gather with family and friends and be reminded of how grateful we should be every day of our lives.

Just a few of the wonderful parts of a grateful life!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Standing just outside the ring of dancers I was gripped by an eerie feeling as the ceremonial fire caused shadows to filter among the rocks of the conclave. With an audible sigh I felt relief come to my soul as the stadium lights caused the shadows to retreat and helped reality brighten the crevices of my vivid imagination.

Later I sat alone beside the wandering stream and contemplated my experiences with the tribal traditions at the yearly regional pow-wow. I had to wonder what strange force first inspired the ancestors to believe that they could solve their problems by dancing around them.

Crops would yield a more abundant harvest by dancing around the seedlings!

Victory in wars would be assured by adorning warriors in armor and with weapons held high dancing around in a mock battle!

Disease would be cured by donning the ceremonial mask and dancing around until the evil spirits were driven from the afflicted!

There were no problems in life which couldn’t be alleviated by ceremoniously dancing around them.

The ‘cultured modern mind’ looks at these ancient practices with a wink of the eye and a sardonic smile, casting them aside as primitive, remaining incredulous about the cause and effect relationship between dancing around one’s problems and the consequential results.

Maybe our condescending attitude comes not out of condemnation of the practice, but out of scorn for the outdated methodology. After all, have we not elevated the art or science of dancing around our problems ‘way beyond the dreams of our long ago forefathers?

Modern man dances around the fire of abortion trying to scare away the evil spirits of teenage motherhood with superficial remedies of freely administered contraceptives and sex education delivered by the uneducated. On we wildly dance, while we are being blinded by the fires of personal past indiscretions and pseudo-realism, which have cast shadows of doubt on man’s ability to be moral through self-control and self-restraint.

Leaders of nations drape themselves with stockpiles of mightier and more sophisticated weapons, researching means of bringing about death, devastation and destruction on an ever grander scale, hoping that their never ending dance will frighten their battle preparing self-declared enemies.

Stirred in our dancing we spin around driven by uncontrolled, unsuppressed desires stimulated by greed, domination and pride, having long ago lost the meaning of loving one’s neighbor.

We prepare for our daily dance by painting our faces to cover the pallor of unhealthy skin. We pop pills in an attempt to make our bodies believe that they have vitality. We bind our bodies with fine linen in an effort to appear firm. As we ever turn in place we try to stem the infirmities of the flesh with artificial remedies which ultimately can only be kept at bay through proper hygiene, nutrition and exercise.

We have been dancing so long upon the coffers of the nations that it now costs more to produce a coin than the value stamped upon it. We have staggered around the monetary printing presses, driving ourselves so deep into the coffin of debt, that values printed on currencies have become meaningless. Paying the piper with unsecured checks we have danced ourselves away from the values of prudence, patience and self-denial.

We gaily prance along, holding dearly to our personal imperfections and misguided priorities, holding to the hope that the next generation will make every movement precisely and in unison, having long ago diminished the effectiveness of example and cheapened our words with the demand that those who follow should do as we say and not as we do.

Standing just outside the ring of dancers, I am gripped with an eerie feeling as the ceremonial fire causes shadows to filter among the rocks of the conclave.

With a sigh originating deep within the recesses of my soul I pray for a portion of understanding.

When will we cease our ineffective dancing?

When will we retreat from the endless circling and walk firmly toward solutions?

When will we emerge from shifting shadows and stride confidently in truth’s bright light?

When will we still the useless motion and move forward to the beat of rightness?

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1: 5.6.8)

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Like they say, I would like to have a penny – with inflation make that a dollar for each time I have heard someone (insert appropriate word – wife, husband, friend, colleague, candidate or word of your choice) say ‘if you knew (him/her) like I do’. This avalanche of statements trying to let me know that what I see in whomever the remark might be being applied too, makes me wonder why is it that the person I have encountered is different than the person with whom I evidently am not acquainted.

Thankfully Halloween arrived in time to give me a possible solution to my quandary. It seems that even though we all accept the wearing of masks to disguise who we really are and therefore, have license to take on the characteristics of the mask, is understood during this spooky season. However, most of us seem to have masks and characteristics we unconsciously and automatically put on depending on the group and/or occasion with which we might be involved with.

For most of us the training for this constant changing of masks or switching of our personalities and behaviors started very early and continues throughout our lives.

Having found comfort with our favorite digit, we very early learned that there would be times when doing this activity was frowned upon when people outside the immediate family were present.

When we tagged along to the grocery store we found that the long racetrack isles were not for running even though we were outside of the house.

Entering school was a real mask changer. In this place one could not get up and move when the hardness of the seat became unbearable. It was required that we do things exactly as the teacher instructed. The cute things which were smiled and laughed at in our homes were now reasons for a visit to the principal’s office.

During the teenage years the masks had to be quickly changed when we were with friends and then quickly changed back as we returned home. Cruelly, we also discovered that certain mask changes were required depending on which friends we might be hanging with.

As the changes of maturation continued we found that masks needed to be changed when we were in church, went to a dance, were involved in a sports activity, speaking publicly or sharing a secret.

The requirement to constantly be changing masks seems endless and leaves us with little doubt why most of us, if not all, occasionally slip up and do something really stupid in the wrong place, with the wrong group or at the wrong time.

The apostle James was evidently aware of this propensity we share to act different parts in different places and his writings seem to indicate that he didn't think it was a positive characteristic. James stated his bias against the wearing of masks in these words:

He that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (James 1:6)

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8)

I suspect the biggest danger that comes from having a closet full of masks, which we change more often than we take a drink during the day, is that there is always a danger that somewhere along the line we might lose the realization of who we really are.

Jack Rushton, a wonderful man who I hope will always consider me his friend, says that one of the greatest gifts he ever received was when he was allowed by the Lord to see, and I therefore assume, know, who he really is.

Somehow in the magnificent miracle of going through His Infinite Atonement the Lord Jesus the Christ came to know us far beyond our mask changing derived confusion allows us to know ourselves.

The Lord once told Thomas B. Marsh, I know your heart and have heard your prayers. The Lord included in this revelation some details which probably made useless several of the masks in Thomas’ closet, or at least the donning of them became silly.

Most interesting to me was the counsel he gave Thomas after revealing to him His extensive knowledge of who He knew him to be. Be not partial towards them in love above many others, but let thy love be for them as for thyself; and let thy love abound unto all men, and unto all who love my name. (Doctrine and Covenants 112:11)

My pondering on the masks in my closet and the counsel of the Lord to Thomas, led me to believe that the Lord might be saying – if you can ever learn to really love all your brothers and sisters the discarding of masks may follow. It may be possible that they will even fall off without our having taken any other action.

I pray and long for the day when the Lord might let me have a glimpse of who I really am. As this understanding slowly unfolds I pray that I will have the wisdom to act on the blessed revelation and go forth eliminating those masks which cause so much confusion as I interact with the various groups of my world.

Until I have this eternal perspective I hope I will be able to remove some of my masks by attempting to let my love abound unto all men.

What a wonderful, honest world it would be, if masks were only worn during the Halloween season.