Sunday, March 30, 2014


In life there are some decisions we make and some decisions life makes for us.

We can either become victims to the decisions life makes for us or we can decide to be victorious over what life has decided for us.

There are times in life when we can set goals and prioritize our schedules. There are also times in life when priorities and goals are dramatically altered by unscheduled occurrences.

Very few of life’s decisions remain unaltered and sometimes need a complete overhaul.

Since long ago I became aware that most of what I think and say has been thought and said by many others. I, therefore, am sure that the statements with which I have opened this week’s Thought will have probably been said in one way or another by someone, somewhere. However, the unplanned events of the last couple of weeks (Kathleen having an appendectomy) have brought thoughts about how much of life we are really in control and how much of life we are just part of the ebbing of life’s tides.


I didn't really have much to say about where I lived, but I did have control over how much of my environment I was going to enjoy.

I didn't really have much to say about what meals were put on the table, but I had a lot to say about how much of those meals I would eat.

I didn't really have much to say about the schools where I was to receive my elementary education, but I did have a lot of control of how much education I would take from those schools.

I didn't really have much to say about my church affiliation, but I did have a lot to say about how much faith I was gaining in its tenets.


I cannot always control the mobs and masses which begin to surround me, but I can select those among the many I wish to make part of the influences in my life.

I cannot always control what and how a teacher teaches, but I can control what I choose to learn.

I cannot always control the level of language which invades my spaces, but I can control the language which fills my mind and leaves my mouth.

I cannot always control the choices which even my closest friends are making, but I can control my degree of involvement in those choices.


I may not be able to determine the declarations of governments, but I am able to determine my reactions to those declarations.

I may not be able to avoid the consequences of the ways others use their agency, but I am able to control the degree of bitterness or anger stimulated in me by those events.

I may not be able to fulfill all of my dreams and ambitions, but I am able to control the amount of fulfillment I have in the roles I have been given to play.

I may not be able to make my mountain of minutia as large as I would like, but I can like the stuff I have.


I will not have a lot to say about the adjustments my body makes as it ages, but I can make an adventure out of adjusting.

I will not have a lot to say about the friends of youth going the way of all the earth, but I can enjoy those who are still on the upper side of the grass.

I will not have a lot to say about the reversing of parent and child roles, but I can be supportive of those who are finding their way in their new roles.

I will not have a lot to say about the repetition of generational mistakes, but I can strive to ease their burden by not becoming burdensome.


Just because the whole world seems to be rushing toward decay I can choose to keep my small corner of existence clean, well nurtured and alive.

Just because some find a necessity to pray only when the plane is plummeting I can choose to have continual communication with my Father.

Just because others find it difficult to testify of the reality of Eternal Truths doesn't mean I can't become a publisher of peace.

Just because others choose a shortsighted selfish way of life doesn't mean I can't dedicate my life to bringing joy and happiness to others.

When all is said – agency remains paramount – we all make the final decision on all that is decided in our lives!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


During my years of teaching in the Church Education System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I was also blessed with being involved with the development and construction of three different buildings. The first of those was a new seminary building adjacent to Tooele High School in Tooele, Utah. The second, was a new Institute building which served the students and young adults of the Reno, Nevada area. The third, for which I was only able to be involved in the long preliminary processes, eventually led to the construction of the Institute building adjacent to Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California.

Although each of these buildings has a history and provides me with many memories, both of the pleasant and not so pleasant kind, it is a remembrance which came because of my involvement at the Reno Institute, during destruction or the ‘old’ building and the construction of the ‘new’ building, that became a springboard for this week’s Thought.

During the adventure of the demolition of the old building, which was rapidly falling apart on its own, and the construction of the new building, we held our classes and had our offices in a house which previously had served to house women who belonged to the LDS sorority attached to the University of Nevada. Memories of our yearlong adventure in that house, as the old building was destroyed and the construction of the new facility took place, seem to fall in the unpleasant memory category. However, now that I pause and search my memories more carefully, there were a lot of great times created by the uniqueness of the situation… I digress… Memories seem to have a way of causing the mind to wander.

I don't know the percentage of my time that year that was taken up as a sidewalk superintendent, but I am sure that it was on an equal par with the time I spent doing the CES work I was actually under contract to do. I watched as the old building quickly became rubble and then almost immediately all traces of its existence were only to be found in old photograph albums and the memories of students who are rapidly becoming numbered among those who we refer to as ‘no longer being among us.’

As rapidly as the old had been taken away the days of construction of the new building were underway. Although it was always on the schedule which was contractually agreed too, the work seemed to drag and stretch as the new edifice ever so slowly rose upon the dust of the old, as we tried to conduct classes and enjoy activities in very cramped conditions.

At last, we finally received the keys from the contractor, the building was dedicated, the remnants of the refreshments from the open house were all cleared, and then it started. It didn't come as an avalanche on the first day people entered our beautiful new facility, but as the weeks passed during the entire length of that inaugural year in the new building. Many of those who came through to attend classes or just to see what all the fuss was about, rather than commenting on the wonders and expansiveness of the new building, wandered the halls bemoaning the loss of the quaintness of that which had been destroyed. The beloved physical evidence which could easily stimulate the memories of courtships, spiritual awakenings, learnings and joyful days and evenings was gone forever.

I tried to have empathy with their sadness, but it was hard for me while having the joy of being able to teach in a modern classroom and prepare in a wonderful office to have empathy with their loss. In fact, their words often made me wonder why they couldn't at least try to share a little bit in the happiness which filled my life.

I was often surprised at my reaction and the dramatic change of mood I would experience when just a few words contrary to my personal view exploded on my reverie.


Many times as I watched our children at play, I marveled at how just a few unkind words or a single thoughtless act turned an entire afternoon of enjoyment into bitterness and anger.

Sadly, we have witnessed the reputation of entire families and organizations changed forever by the thoughtless actions or words of one person.

How often have we seen the divulging of a sacred confidence or the failure to fulfill a verbal agreement wreak havoc with friendships which were forged over decades.

We marvel that trust built up over long years of faithfulness can be shattered with but a small lie or a single moment of thoughtlessness.

It almost seems to be a universal truth:

It exists with buildings.

It exists with individuals.

It exists with groups.

It takes long hours, days and decades of love and effort to build beautiful buildings, bond relationships and bring communal gatherings into fruition, but only seconds of misguided actions or words can cause them to crumble and sometimes never exist again.

Does cleverness really justify unkindness?

Does being right really justify deflating another?

Does existence of a wonderful memory really justify the dampening of the eminent excitement another might presently be enjoying.

Just thinking that perhaps the next time I am about to do or say something unkind, ugly or unnecessary, that I take a breath, hesitate a moment and contemplate how long, if ever, it will take to re-build this relationship I am about to disintegrate with this wrecking ball leaving my mouth.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

ONE FAMILY (part three)

The road is long with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where.

But I'm strong, strong enough to carry him. He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

So on we go his welfare is my concern. No burden is he to bear. We'll get there.

For I know, he would not encumber me. He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

It's a long, long road from which there is no return.

While we're on the way to there, why not share?

And the load doesn't weigh me down at all, he ain't heavy, he's my brother.

If I'm laden at all, I'm laden with sadness, that everyone's heart isn't filled with gladness and love for one another.

My first introduction to these words written and put to music by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell was when I heard it sung by Neil Diamond in 1970.

As you would suspect from the previous two parts of this Thought the song immediately hummed to my soul and reminded me of the many steps I had taken on my journey to embrace and make Universal Oneness my own, but also reminded me of the long and winding road that still lay ahead.

As I write this Thought today I am still struck with the length of road which remains on my personal quest to embrace all the members of humanity as my brothers and sisters.

Although it is not exhaustive there is a list of bumps I have found on my attempts to be ever enlarging my circle of those who fill my heart and who I love.

1. Struggling with the societally influenced prejudices stemming from the visible differences we have and the fears and suspicions which grow from these prejudices -- And at the same time offering up prayers to our Father that I might find a way to be my brother’s keeper.

2. Stumbling over the fences which are built up by nations who widen their borders and enlarge their armories to protect them from us or us from them -- While at the same time supporting and sustaining Living Prophets in their current efforts to be effective servants in doing the work and glory of our Heavenly Father, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all His children.

3. Evaluating the dogmatic views of previous generations trying to separate the wheat from the chaff – While learning to distinguish between folklore and eternal truths, so that we can more honestly judge the value of those we daily encounter.

4. Putting the mortal desires of wanting to have a continuously grander and greater mountain of stuff into proper perspective of life -- While spending more of our limited hours publishing peace and being a peace maker.

5. Recognizing the importance of keeping the principle of agency inviolate -- While not succumbing to the ever present urge to give up the desire to carry my brother because of the seeming rejection by those who we are trying to lift and embrace.

6. Keeping the flame ablaze of the mission Heavenly Father sent you forth to do -- While fighting the loneliness which comes when family and friends continually find smoother paths to walk and easier wind mills to slay.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;… For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? (Matthew 5:44, 46)

As the second half of our mortal sojourn started Kathleen and I were called to serve the wonderful people of Colombia and to preside over the Colombia Bogota Mission. I little suspected how I would be slammed with the reality of how few steps I had taken on the long and winding road where my brother wasn't heavy. The result became that I was coming closer to a personal triumph of living a life of Universal Oneness.

A much more joyful part of the wandering road was opened to my view; the part of the path where we cease to be burdened by the obstacles of the journey and walk upon on the better part, where we concentrate on making the attributes of Universal Oneness our own.

1. Looking for the good and beautiful in all we see and in all we encounter.
2. Listening for and speaking those words which strengthen and build.
3. Being anxiously engaged in the good work of brightening the path of those who are struggling in darkness.
4. Bringing happiness into the hearts of those who are burdened with heaviness.
5. Being kind in every relationship with which we are blessed to be involved.
6. Understanding that everyone I meet each day is a child of God.

The road is long with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where.

But I'm strong, strong enough to carry him. He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

So on we go his welfare is my concern. No burden is he to bear. We'll get there.

For I know, he would not encumber me. He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

It's a long, long road from which there is no return.

While we're on the way to there, why not share?

And the load doesn't weigh me down at all, he ain't heavy, he's my brother.

If I'm laden at all, I'm laden with sadness, that everyone's heart isn't filled with gladness and love for one another.

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… (Moroni 7:48)




Sunday, March 9, 2014

ONE FAMILY (part 2)

As we all try a little harder to be kinder to those in the circles which surround us, the dream of Universal Oneness seems to continue to mysteriously elude us and remains locked in some ghostly everlasting place. In real time we practice true kindness in a very tight knot made up of those who converge within our restricted personal communities.

My sister Geraldine had, what I always deemed to be, a believing spirit. The principles and doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ were always absolutes and she never seemed to be agonized by the struggle of having to gain a testimony of new truths as they were introduced to her.

As for myself, I always seemed to be the yang to her yin. All new ideas were met with doubt and skepticism, which were followed by, what seemed to me, a prolonged struggle to make my own peace with the principle.
I was always grateful that I seldom had to re-plow fields which I had planted and struggled with until they brought forth fruit. Thankfully, once my heart had been softened on a subject I was able to enjoy its sweetness from that moment on without further trial.

There are some principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which I, like my sister, seemed to have been blessed with, as a rite of passage, from my pre-mortal existence into mortality. The principle of the Universal Oneness of the inhabitants of the earth is one of those truths, which I was touched with by some power beyond my mortal capacities and which whispered to my soul that it is true and which gratefully was a field I never had to weed.

During my days of attending Primary in American Falls, Idaho, and Long Beach, California, we never sang what has become the Primary anthem, ‘I Am a Child of God.’ The words of this delightful song are from a poem written by Naomi Ward Randall. I somehow always knew that when I prayed to Heavenly Father I was not just using a catchy phrase for some unknown deity. This beautiful title had a familial tone. Therefore, when I first heard these beautiful words sung they came to me as a voice of remembrance not of revelation. (Romans 8:16, 17)

I am a child of God, and he has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear.

I am a child of God, and so my needs are great; help me to understand his words before it grows too late.

I am a child of God. Rich blessings are in store; if I but learn to do his will, I'll live with him once more.

I am a child of God. His promises are sure; celestial glory shall be mine if I can but endure.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday.

Likewise, sometime during the formative years of my life the words of the song ‘O My Father,’ written by Elisa R. Snow filled my soul and sent chills up my arms and across my shoulders and misted my eyes as a sure witness of a truth I had always known.

O my Father, thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place, when shall I regain thy presence and again behold thy face.

In thy holy habitation, did my spirit once reside? In my first primeval childhood was I nurtured near thy side?

For a wise and glorious purpose thou hast placed me here on earth and withheld the recollection of my former friends and birth;

Yet ofttimes a secret something whispered, "You're a stranger here," and I felt that I had wandered from a more exalted sphere.

I had learned to call thee Father, thru thy Spirit from on high, but, until the key of knowledge was restored, I knew not why.

In the heav'ns are parents single? no, the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal, tells me I've a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence, when I lay this mortal by, Father, Mother, may I meet you in your royal courts on high?

Then, at length, when I've completed all you sent me forth to do, with your mutual approbation let me come and dwell with you.

How could I have possibly had a Heavenly Father if I did not also have a Heavenly Mother? (Conference talk –Gordon B. Hinckley – October 1991)

How could Eve have been created in the image of Deity without a glorified Model? (Genesis 1:27)

How could there be a child without there first being a Father and Mother? (Acts 17:22, 23)

Sadly, it was many years before I was able to connect the dots between knowing that I was a child of Heavenly Parents and the Universal Oneness of humanity. (Ephesians 4:6)

I will ever be grateful for my call as a young man to serve as a missionary in northern Mexico. It was there, as I started the phase of my life where I was slowly and joyfully increasing the size of my personal circle of acceptable others, that my belief in the fulfillment of that dream of an everlasting place of Universal Oneness took on a brighter hew of hope.

(To be continued)

Sunday, March 2, 2014


I have to confess that I am not as fanatical as I was in my younger days when it comes to watching the competition of the Olympic Games. However, Kathleen and I do make a point of watching the spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies. I suspect that during my television lifetime I have seen in black and white, living color and now in high definition maybe 30 of these presentations.

We all have to marvel at how technology has not only improved the viewing of these events in our living rooms, but has also multiplied the marvelousness of the pageant. The structure in Sochi where the opening ceremony for the winter games was presented this year may go down as the most elaborate stage ever built. I have no idea how this venue will translate into other uses, but it was an artistic, technical and engineering marvel for this one evening of entertainment.

As the performers retreated to back stage and the actual opening of the games took place my mind rapidly shifted, having been reminded by the President of the Olympics Games once again telling the world that the youth of the world had gathered in the universal spirit of the oneness of humanity.

The flame of the torch had barely lighted the night and the fireworks had not yet exploded their last brilliant glow when the chants of nationalism started to fill the void left by the spent arsenal.

Around the world the medal countdown went into full gear, becoming a symbol of the superiority of the nations who were garnering the most gold, silver and bronze.

Fashion magazines raced their presses to finish first in critiquing the uniforms of the participants.

Political propaganda pundits immediately published their praises and criticisms of the nation which had made this unifying gathering possible.

The spectacle of the athletes marching into the stadium in their national colored uniforms waving the flags of their homeland had barely passed before us when our minds shifted to the hundreds of thousands of their peers who wore other uniforms back home. Not uniforms meant for skiing or skating, but uniforms which were meant for a far more deadly contest.

Although I applaud and am grateful that we can be reminded every two years that we are one people, it doesn't seem that these gatherings have changed the unity of mankind much since the days when the Spartans and the Athenians gathered for similar reasons.

This year for Christmas Kathleen bought me a calendar which has a daily bit of wisdom from the Dalai Lama. His entry for the 7th day of February went; “One of the most powerful visions I have experienced was the first photograph of the Earth from outer space. The image of a blue planet floating in deep space, glowing like a full moon on a clear night, brought powerfully home to me the recognition that we are indeed all members of a single family sharing one little house.”

Although there are many virtues we should be anxiously striving to put on and many vices we should be constantly striving to put off, I suspect no change in our nature will be more important to our eternal existence than how much we accept and act upon a belief that we are all of one family.

Although we are commonly limited in our ability to change the prejudices and divisive influences which fight against the dream of the universal oneness of mankind; we can all attempt to more constantly lift our brother, love our neighbor and decry the forces which would divide us.

(To be continued)