Sunday, December 30, 2012



Sunday, December 30, 2012

It was a quiet evening in what had always been a simple corner of the field.
In one hushed moment it became a special garden place.
Now, in memory’s shrine, it shall forever remain a sacred meadow.
Upon the faint breezes of inspiration, came understanding of things there and then.

Through the strange detachment of vision’s reality, I was now but a spectator of that which I had then participated in. Through the vagueness of a hopeful faith, I glimpsed Loving Parents and an adoring son; a Father, standing near a seated boy with mighty hands placed upon the young lad’s crown; a Mother, anxiously waiting to hear the blessings from her Eternal Companion to her cherished offspring. Words clearly spoken then – come now only as impressions – perhaps someday once again to be known in purity.

“My Son:

- Parting is an essential step to eternal togetherness
- Living away from home will help you know life’s meaning
- Aloneness will heighten your desire for companionship


- Remembering will help you understand priorities
- Seeking for wise counsel will be rewarded

As well as

- Giving will bring untold riches
- Talents are given for the benefit of others
- Our help will never be further than a sincere call away

Then for just an instant, a flash of brilliance filled the vision, and I saw with clarity a loving Mother’s fingers caressing the trembling hand of her dear child. Now even the words came clear and understandable though they travelled the thin lines of vision’s web.

“My son:

- Although you do not and cannot understand fully, your Father’s words are spoken with love and mercy
- He desires only the greatest of glories for you
- He has done all to prepare the way for your return home


- Never forget that staying away until you are called is essential for your growth
- The day will come when you will realize that you have strayed from the teachings you have received in our home
- During those hurtful times, turn to your Brother and He will make you whole again
- Remember our love for you is endless and will find you even in the simplest corner of the field.”

It was a quiet evening in what had always been a simple corner of the field.
In one hushed moment it became a special garden place.
Now, in memory’s shrine, it shall forever remain a sacred meadow.
Upon the faint breezes of inspiration, came understanding of things there and then.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Kathleen and I wish each of you a Very Merry Christmas and pray that peace and joy will abide in your home always.

This week my thoughts have been centered on the night the Savior of the world came to dwell among men.

Have you ever wondered how different the history of the world would have been if the Baby Jesus had never been born? Have you ever wondered how different the world we live in would be if the Baby Jesus had never been born?
Have you ever wondered how different your life would be if the Baby Jesus had never been born?

Although my wonderings are far from exhaustive on this Theme of Themes, I offer the following as a springboard to your own wonderings.

If the Baby Jesus had not lain in the manger that first Christmas night:

There would be no wondering about the Annunciation and the miraculous birth which resulted.

There would be no wondering about the Magi or the wondrous star they followed in the eastern sky which beamed down on Bethlehem.

There would be no remembrance of shepherds having heard angels sing as they tended their flocks across the arroyo from that blessed village.

There would be no shrine in Bethlehem covering the grotto where the Redeemer of mankind was once swaddled.

There would be no marveling about the One who maneuvered through life’s trials without sin, moving ever steadily toward perfection.

There would be no reading about the best and worst of man’s acts down through history having been done in His name.

There would never have been disciples willing to live to witness of His divinity and willing to die as a sealing act to their testimonies.

There would never have been a single soul expressing gratefulness for His Atonement which opened the gates unto Eternal Life.

If the Baby Jesus had not lain in the manger that first Christmas night:

Our nights of December would be void of sparkle and brightness.

We would have no Black Friday, Cyber Monday nor shopping till you drop.

We would not see red suited Santas, elves dressed in green or toys fulfilling the imaginations of boys and girls of all ages.

We would not have brightly decorated trees topped with angels or stars taking center stage in our homes.

We would not have spent time adorning mantles with manger scenes or hours putting up miniature villages on table tops.

We would have no memories of overnight trips to be with family and feasting on goodies for days on end.

We would not have those sleepless nights ushering in gleeful mornings spent ripping into packages ad then marveling at how soon the anticipated moment passed.

We would not have been little shepherds tripping on lengthy robes, angels with halos askew, or boys and girls forever remembering that we were Joseph or Mary as the words of Luke were read.

We would not have joined with joyful listeners to hear seasonal choirs filling halls with carols from around the world.

If the Baby Jesus had not lain in the manger that first Christmas night:

My life would have had less meaning and purpose and I would have wandered without a guiding light.

My days would have had more moments of stress and anxiety and fewer times of peace and happiness.

My feelings about marriage and family would have been altered dramatically and I might never have known the blessedness of unconditional love.

My reasoning leading to choices would have been founded on a different set of values, therefore leading to very different outcomes in my life.

My fears in life based on uncertainty would have increased and my hopes in life would have been dimmed.

My faith that in and through the Lord Jesus the Christ salvation and resurrection are a reality would not have sustained me.

I have left space between sections so that, if you wish you might add your own wonderings about how different life would be if the Baby Jesus had not lain in the manger that first Christmas night.

I would be grateful if you would include a reply to me as you add your wonderings.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Many Christmases ago we attended a concert in the Mount Rose Chapel in Reno, Nevada where once again I was reminded of how much I enjoy the traditional songs of Christmas and how I had not yet learned and sadly still don't enjoy those entries on the program which seem to be more for the vocal experience of the singers than the entertainment of the audience. At that particular conference I heard for the first time Lai Nani Jamieson and Naomi Buccumbuso sing a duet accompanied by Mildred Earl.

I don't really know if I can describe what I heard that night and on many occasions thereafter, but I’ll give it a try from my tone deaf perspective. Somehow it seemed like they were singing backup for one another. Their voices seemed to blend and complement on every note. It is what I would describe as perfect harmony. There were occasions when they were joined by Glenna Leukenga and none of the harmony was lost. I even remember times when Mildred Earl yielded the piano to someone else and the group expanded to a quartet and smoothly they all blended into harmonious wonderfulness. It was remarkable to me that none of them ever felt like they should be highlighted with a solo.

It was quite natural for me during this past Thanksgiving week which we spent with family in Reno, Nevada, to have the remembrance of how much I enjoyed these wonderful women and how well they presented every song writer’s contribution to the world. Knowing the way my mind works it was likewise not unusual that I continued to develop the theme of harmony to cover other aspects of life.

During the founding days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints there was a lot of attention paid to the principle of harmony and, gratefully, many talks were recorded which addressed this subject. In many ways the scriptures approach and reinforce this concept as one of the major hurdles we were sent to the earth to master.

I remember reading about how the purpose of life was to bring our physical body into harmony with our spirit body.

I remember teaching lessons about how, since the spirit body had already chosen to follow Heavenly Father’s Eternal

Plan that if harmony would ever come about the physical body would have to change to complement what the spirit body had already become. I suspect that one of the reasons we often feel sorrow and fall short of feeling joy is because of the internal struggle between the two halves of our soul.

I remember reading about how the purpose of marriage is for men and women to become one. I remember teaching lessons about how since neither the man nor the woman were perfect; if perfect harmony were to be achieved, they would have to seek models outside of their union as examples to emulate. I suspect that one of the reasons we often fall short of oneness is that we are determined to defend what we feel is right in spite of obvious contradictions. The heartbreak of separation is almost always a result of one or both parties being unwilling to find a point where harmony exists.

I remember reading about how the purpose of the church is for the members to become as one in a society called Zion. I remember teaching lessons on the wonderful times when groups approached this harmonious level of living, if only for a season. They were described as living in the happiest of times. The fall of these short term Zion societies always came about because individuals gave into the temptation of feeling they were more important than the rest of the group. For some reason most of us feel that defending our point of view is more important than finding harmony in truth as far as we might be able to understand it. For some reason we continue to find more reasons to judge our neighbors than to edify and strengthen them. For some reason we find mortal pseudo-solutions to problems more appealing than those outlined in the Plan of Happiness. Therefore, we continue to interact with anger, mistrust and hatred, pounding our plow shares into spears and making war.

As the celebration of the birth of the Savior approaches I look forward to these few moments when we will in some way put aside some of our pettiness and let harmony ring, if only for a short season.

As we slowly drive through those specially lighted neighborhoods which every town and city seems to have, with no one zipping and no one putting the life of others in danger, just one continuous harmonious snaking of autos.

Unitedly we meander, enjoying for a moment the wondrous spectacle which surrounds us.

Once the madness of Black Friday is behind us we witness people helping their neighbors with their packages, we see people deferring to each other in lines and we see people pausing from political positions to visit about pleasanter topics.

We are amazed as we see people who are normally concerned about making sure their fashion needs are met, forgetting themselves for a moment as they search diligently to find that gift which will bring happiness to the receiver.

It is indeed a marvelously miraculous season when the traditional songs will be sung and a part of the world will momentarily move just a little closer to being in harmony. Sadly, the season will indeed be short and the discordant noises of the New Year will send us all back to the blaring bickering which keeps us far from the purposes of our existence.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Lehi, the father of the people whose history is chronicled in the Book of Mormon, in the early pages of the Book of Mormon records a revelatory dream about a tree which represents the Love of God and the pathway which one must travel to arrive at the tree and partake of its fruit. His personal account of his dream and his son Nephi’s additions to his father’s remarks have been the cause of many hours of pondering in my mind. (1 Nephi 8, 11)

One of the things I have spent some time pondering about is the path which leads to the tree. Lehi and Nephi have convinced me that there is but a single path which leads to the tree where one can partake of the overwhelming, delicious fruit which is the Love of God. However, I am equally convinced that all who find the path do not walk upon it either at the same pace, or with the same diligence, or with the same blessings, or do all share the same trials, or do all reach the tree and partake of the fruit during their mortal walk.

Let me share some of my ponderings:

There are those who have their feet planted on the path during their formative years that walk steadily toward the tree with only minor deviations - and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His love – However, there is a danger that the taste thereof will be a bit bland because of the easiness of the way – We all know that fruit is sweeter when we have paid a price to obtain it.

There are those who have their feet planted on the path during their formative years, but choose to experiment upon other paths before returning to the path and then with faulting steps continue until they partake of the fruit – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love – However, they will have had to learn many lessons the hard way and will have denied themselves of many of the blessings of obedience – They will have moments in their maturity when they think of wasted times of ill-advised activities, which if they had not indulged, would have speeded their journey to the delicious fruit – It is possible that because of their grief the fruit may be all the sweeter.

There are those who have their feet planted on the path during their formative years, but choose to permanently wander on tangent, cloudy, muddy paths – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will someday taste of a portion His Love in ways they never imagined during mortality – However, their choices will have distanced them from the peaceful, calm, helping hand which the Lord had continually held out to them – they shall leave mortality in ignorance of how delicious the fruit would have tasted and the joy that might have been theirs.

There are those who are given the understanding of the path later in their lives and then trod faithfully within its bounds until they arrive at the tree and partake of the fruit – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love – However, there will be moments of reflection when they wonder why their introduction to the path did not come earlier in their lives – Then they will be content because the fruit’s sweetness forever seems to permeate their souls.

There are those who are given the understanding of the path later in their lives and then take periodic journeys to their former haunts before finally firmly planting their paces on the path –and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love – However, they will spend many days wondering why they could have been so foolish to have partaken of the bitter when they could have had the sweet – Then they will be grateful that they did not tarry longer pursuing worldly pseudo rewards.

There are those who are given the understanding of the path later in their lives and then turn therefrom for the rest of their mortal sojourn – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love in ways they never reached during mortality – However, their divergence will have brought them suffering where they might have had healing, sadness when they might have felt joy and darkness when they might have had the light – when finally they are given a portion of the fruit they will be left with the wish of ‘if only’.

There are those who know of the path, but find the way too simple and choose the prideful path of the wisdom of the world – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will in ‘that day’ taste of a portion His Love – However, they will have wasted their day of probation, mistakenly thinking that the glitz, glamor and glory of the world was the true fruit which should be sought – they will then be filled with sorrow and grief and seek forgiveness for the rude and unkind words they spewed at those on the path during mortality.

There are those who spend their mortal days never knowing of the path – and that is OK and through the Mercy of the Lord they will taste of His Love – They will have suffered while wandering in whatever light they could find, but when they are brought into His Light they will be overwhelmed with the sweetness of the fruit and a flood of understanding will shower them with the rightness of His plan for them during mortality.

No matter where our lives have led or where we might now presently be, I pray that we might find the path and then follow Nephi and Moroni’s counsel.

And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.(2 Nephi 31:19, 20)

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48)

Sunday, December 2, 2012


There were five us in the room, consisting of me and them. Even though I had known these men for several years, some as colleagues, one as a teacher and even one I considered a close personal friend with whom I had shared parallels in our careers.

We quickly passed over a review of my dissertation as it became obvious that there was a gulf between the knowledge on the subject I had gained as a result of the extensive research I had been doing and the limited acquaintance they had from the brief perusal they had given my writings. Then THE QUESTION came! It was obvious that in their pre-oral examine consultation with each other they had decided that this would be what would determine my passing or failing the defense of my dissertation and the class work with which I had been involved over the past years.

I had prepared myself for THE QUESTION by becoming acquainted with the literature of the day on the subject and I was also well aware of the prejudices on both sides of the issue. It was that type of question that the Savior was so adept at turning back to the questioners. I well knew that no matter which side of THE QUESTION I would chose, it would lead to me having to defend it at length and I would be facing 5/1 odds as the outcome of my defense was being determined.

THE QUESTION – “Is the relationship which parents have to their children one of ownership?”

For most parents this issue doesn't cause major disturbances, it only causes occasional conflicts and adjustments as we work with schools and governments to resolve problems which our children might have as they maneuver through the ‘systems’ during their maturation processes. I knew well that the educational hierarchy looked dimly on any philosophies which would condone the parent/child relationship as one of owner and owned. I knew that governmental organizations feel that they are the ultimate determiners of the rights of those they have been elected to serve. It only takes the complaint of one neighbor to put in question the parent/child relationship. It only takes one testimony to put someone’s life into turmoil.

Gratefully, THE ANSWER to THE QUESTION which quietly squeaked from my timid lips was: this relationship isn't a matter of ownership, but one of stewardship. I was then given the opportunity, without opposition, to expand on the principle of stewardship relationships. As I slipped into my comfort zone of being the teacher in the group, the grilling subsided and when I had finished explaining what I meant by the term stewardship relationships, the grilling ceased and we spent the rest of the oral examination time chatting as colleagues and friends. In a very interesting way the temperament in the room had changed from a debate between them vs. me, to a conversation between us.

To me the Savior has left little doubt that a great deal of what we will become and be accountable for while in this probationary state can be determined by an examination of the faithfulness and fulfillment of our stewardship relationships.

In the 12th and 16th chapters of his book, Luke records the Savior’s thoughts on stewards and their stewardships.

The Savior’s greatest condemnation falls on the unfaithful steward who deliberately puts added, demeaning and cumbersome burdens on those he has been called to serve. He serves justly while the Master is present, but in his absence the unfaithful steward’s true nature comes forth. He becomes tyrannical in his relationships and deliberately goes against the counsel and commands of his Lord. The Master adamantly condemns this steward and his activities.

The Savior is almost equally condemning of the unprepared steward. This steward seems to know what is required, but fails because of inadequate and insufficient preparation. This steward failure comes not from wavering effort, but from being unprepared. Those who fall under his stewardship fail to accomplish their goals because they walk in the dark and neither knowing where to go nor what to do.

The ignorant steward finds some comfort but still must suffer the stings of the Master’s stripes, excused for not knowing. We are not told why this steward is ignorant of his duties, but those he has stewardship over have suffered because of his inadequacies. Evidently the Savior felt his ignorance could have been overcome through some personal diligence.

Only the wise steward, who has labored to be prepared and is constant and faithful in fulfilling his stewardship according to the counsel of the Master, finds himself acceptable.

There was another occasion later in life when Kathleen and I sat in a small room with someone who was making an evaluation on us which would impact the rest of our lives in ways we could not even imagine at the time. Again came A QUESTION!! This question did not come from a grilling, career determining panel, but came from a wise steward who was trying to know our capabilities to take on a stewardship of monumental responsibilities.

A QUESTION – “If I were to interview your children what kind of stewards would they say their parents are?

Our mumbled humble responses must have been somewhat adequate, because not too many days later we received our call to serve in a wondrous new land which led to opportunities to grow as stewards in a different vineyard.

We are children of divinity. We should reverence and be grateful for being part of the ultimate purpose of God’s work and glory. This understanding should be life altering and determine how we handle stewardship relationships.

We have within us the embryonic attributes of Deity. We should strive to maximize the potential gifted to us through our Eternal Parents. Our stewardship relationships may be the very foundation upon which we build our eternal existence.

Every one of us is greater and more powerful than we realize. All we need to do is call the power forth through the faithful learning and administration of our stewardships.

When the Savior declared we had been created a little lower than the angels, He was not only declaring our greatness because of our Eternal birthright, but also because of the potential of what we can become. Although we will in no way be finished when we leave this frail mortal existence, we have the responsibility to become all we can become while we are witnessing allotted sunrises and sunsets.

The Lord has given us sufficient direction to aid us in fulfilling the potential of our mortal stewardships. We should search with daily diligence to gain a greater understanding of His everlasting counsel.

The type of steward we become will largely be determined by our faithful learning and then acting as He has directed. Since the Master’s presence in our present state is glimpsed through a glass darkly, our stewardship faithfulness will be judged by how diligently we abide by His counsel during what we perceive to be His absence.

Through being faithful stewards we not only serve our fellow sojourners, we also gain enlightenment as we daily add to the discovery of the eternal us. There is indeed a large degree or majestic-ness in the formula whereby we find ourselves by losing ourselves in the service of others as we limp forward in our stewardship relationships.