Tag Archives: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Courage at Twilight: Between Two Temples

   

Taylorsville Utah Temple

Church President Russell Nelson announced the construction of 17 new temples, from Montana to Texas, the Congo to Spain, New Zealand to Peru, bringing the total number of temples to 282 worldwide. I drive past two temples under construction every morning and afternoon, one near my home—the Taylorsville Temple—and one near my work an hour away—the Deseret Peak Temple.  While I could drive an alternate way, I feel drawn to the temple route, where twice a day I get to see the construction progress.  Through the winter, the crews completed the steel framing of the Taylorsville temple, and dressed the ribbed walls with foam-panel insulation.  Behind scaffolding, marble and granite slabs began to clad the ground floor, and just today enormous cranes lowered the steel-gray steeple.  In Tooele, the Deseret Peak temple shows only the steel-beam super-structure forming the ground floor, mid-section, and tower, the walls yet to be built.  These temples are sacred edifices to the Latter-day Saints, Houses of God.  There Church members learn about the purpose of life on earth and the possibility of eternal life with an omni-beneficent Father.  There we make covenants to be determined disciples of Jesus: chaste, sacrificing, kind, generous, and honest disciples.  And there we are “sealed” or joined to our families in eternal unbreakable familial links and bonds.  I look forward to seeing what the crews accomplish each day, and I rejoice in the progress toward the ultimate stunning exalting beauty of the final buildings.  I wondered aloud to my siblings about this fascination of mine, and realized that the slow incremental transition from the foundation cornerstone to the steeple capstone gives me hope, hope in the life process of slow and careful creation toward a perfect end.  Like the temples, I hope my character is being similarly dressed and shaped and polished.  I know this: as I age, every act of meanness and gossip and pride and stinginess brings me pain, and every instance of kindness and compassion and generosity and forgiveness brings me pleasure.  So it is that I joy in driving by these two temples, twice a day, knowing they will be finished and perfect, in time, and hoping the same for me.

   

Deseret Peak Temple in Tooele, Utah

 

(Photos from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Used under the Fair Use Doctrine.)

 

Courage at Twilight: Stories of Cockroaches and Fleas

Dad, this morning: “I was sitting here remembering an odd experience.  When I was a missionary in Brazil in 1956, my missionary companion [missionaries work in twos] rented a room in a house, where we lived.  He got up in the night to use the bathroom, and when he turned on the bathroom light, the walls and the floor were covered with skittering cockroaches, and my companion screamed and woke everyone in the house up!”  Dad is a storyteller, and when I hear, “I remember when…” I know a story is coming, and I had better just plant my feet in the floor for a few minutes.  His stories are always touching or funny, even after a dozen tellings.  I have typed up every story I have ever heard Dad tell about his life (and Mom’s stories, too).  “I was allergic to flea bites.  The bites would swell in great red mounds.  The itching was terrible, and I scratched the bites with a wire brush—better the pain than the itch.  I got good at catching fleas.  Once I wrote a letter to my mom out of dead fleas.  I stuck them to scotch tape, forming the shapes of the letters with the fleas, then taped them to the paper.  I don’t know how I survived it—I poured a can of DDT in my bed so I could sleep without being eaten alive by fleas, with the sheet tucked up tight under my chin so I wouldn’t breathe in the power.  The DDT killed the fleas, and I’m surprised it didn’t kill me.”  Thirty years later, as a young church missionary in Portugal, I suffered from bed bug bites—the bugs crept out of their hiding places at night while I slept, and bit the backs of my hands dozens of times.  Every morning I awoke with fresh and painful red bites.  I did not know yet of Dad’s mission pesticide story.  As if reenacting it, I bought a can of Raid and sprayed all the wooden joints and slats of my bed and sprayed under the mattress and on sheets.  Fearing illness, or worse, I did all the spraying in the morning, hoping the bed bugs would be dead, and the poison dissipated, by bedtime.  It seemed to work.  And I have my own cockroach story: as a ten-year-old in Brazil, I reached up to open a high closet cupboard, and out poured dozens of two-inch cockroaches landing all over my head and face and shoulders.  Shiver.  I still cannot stand the sight of a cockroach.  I look forward to Dad’s next stories, which likely will be told today.

 

Pictured above: Dad (far left) and his mission colleagues in Brazil, circa 1958.

Angels Sing

Angels Sing

Prayer was opaque.  Holy writ just words.  I did not know where God was.  We lifted things from the cardboard box, cupping them like fragile hatchling chicks: ukulele – senior yearbook – prom  photo – drawings and doodlings – Church worthiness card – Eagle Scout medal – employee-of-the-month certificate – Godzilla action figure – hoodies and pajamas, smelling of him, a good clean smell.  We planted a linden tree, tall and straight, ringed with daffodils.  He didn’t know who he was.  He didn’t have any sharp edges.  Not.  One.  The only thing I hated about him was that he hated himself.  I have to wonder if one more text, one more call, one more conversation or smile or hug might have tipped the scales.  You slipped a letter in before the casket closed and asked him to remember playing Legos in Grandma’s basement and having play fights with Godzilla.  A small thing, you said.  I am numb and sick and angry and sick and numb.  A man told me once, I am going to walk through that door, and when I do, the darkness will not come through with me.  And the man walked through the door, and the darkness had to stay behind.  Fight to choose light over darkness.  Always.  But our boy was not that strong, yet.  A finger twitched.  A demon slug.  In the end, all we can do to make a difference in this world is to love.  In your quiet times, you will feel a sweetness in your heart, a soft presence, and you will know it is him.  And then, that Church conference on YouTube with the whole world watching during Covid-19 and the audience stayed home to watch and the tabernacle choir stayed home to watch, but recorded choirs sang from conferences past: and there he was, on the back row by the big organ pipes in his black suit, singing and singing and alive!  Our angel alive and singing.

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This piece is a word collage gathering the expressions and feelings and images of many family members surrounding our beloved Korey following his death by suicide.  We love him, and feel him with us still, and always.