Christmas Stars

Stars are something that always pique my sense of wonder and amazement. And I think they make a wonderful metaphor for Christ and some of the lessons we can take from this Christmas season.

Christmas Stars

In the bustle of the trees
The presents, the wrapping,
The parties, the traveling,
The fun and the family,

Don’t forget the stars. 

The stars that remind you 
Of the first Christmas,
And of the shepherds who left their flocks
To witness the Lamb of God.

The stars that belong together,
And remind us of the Shephard’s flock.
There are lambs left to be gathered
Even when the tree is packed away.

The stars that point us ever onward,
That show to us the Way,
Our path back home,
And the covenant mile markers.

The stars that I hope we each see,
This Christmas season,
As we reflect on the Light of the world,
And our sky He lights with stars.

Gratitude Day 4: Nature

One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon is Alma 30:44. Alma declaims that the wonders of nature denote the existence of a God. I personally also believe that the beauty of nature denotes the goodness of God, and today I want to #GiveThanks for the wonders of God’s nature

Nature

If the earth has the power of volcanoes and lightning,
How much more powerful is earth’s Creator?
If the earth has the kindness of butterflies and sunsets,
How much kinder is the earth’s Savior?

If the earth makes us stand in awe with sunsets and mountains,
How much more in awe will we be of earth’s Almighty?
If the earth has the love of the rain and the sunshine,
How much more loving is earth’s Lamb at the Slaughter?

Sunset Happiness

Sunset Happiness

The miracle of a sunset to bring me happiness
Isn’t dependant on

How nice people have been to me,
How lucky I’ve been that day,
The grades I get in class,
How late I have to stay up to do my work,
Who wins the next election,
What people shout about politics,
How many friends I have,
How many friends have hurt me,
The storms I’ve had to weather,
The storms yet in the future,
The lightning frightening me now,
The thunder in the distance,
The wars the world is waging,
The rumors of wars to come,
The anger, the racism, the hate,
The yelling, the abuse, the pain,
The millions depressed or addicted,
The billions poor and dying,
Or any other aspect of the sadness or the wonder in the world.

If I can find something in the world beautiful
Without things outside my control going well,
That is joy.

Life Lessons Learned on an Ice Skating Rink

I went ice skating this week, and it occurred to me that there are a lot of life lessons that can be learned from some time on the rink:

Life Lessons Learned on an Ice Skating Rink

If you aren’t falling down or coming pretty close, you aren’t trying new things.

When you do fall down, just laugh at yourself and get back up.

When you focus on what other people are thinking of you, you mess up what you try to do.

Rarely, if ever, will you be the best skater in the arena, and that’s okay. There’s room in the arena for amazing people and people still learning how not to fall down.

Don’t forget to have a fun time.

You can look at the amazing skaters and think, “dang, why am I not like that?” Or, you can look at them and think, “what are they doing that I can copy, to be like that, too?”

Sometimes, you try something and it turns into a flailing 720° spin. Some people may look at you and think about how bad a skater you are. Just laugh at yourself and keep on skating.

Nobody in the arena is happy to see you falling down.

There are a couple of different really great moments. The moment you master a trick. The first time you do something hard right. Just feeling the wind in your face. Teaching somebody else how to do something.

You don’t have to be doing the same thing as everybody else to have a really fun time.

When a song comes on that you don’t like, remember that it’s just a couple minutes. When a song comes on that you do like, figure out how to dance with ice skates on.

Don’t forget to laugh at yourself.

Pure Water

I was talking with a friend the other week about how it feels to be truly clean, and she compared it to the waters of a river. I tried to capture that idea here:

Pure Water

I’ve stepped in a lot of rivers.
When they had dirt at the bottom,
My steps would send mud
floating down the river,
and the tan filth blocking any view of the riverbed.

I’ve looked at a lot of rivers.
And I love the ones that slowly,
In their crystal blue motion
capture the rolling beauty of nature
in their clear flowing depths.

I want to be a dirt-free river.
I want no mud of the world in me
and to flow confidently onward
to the ocean,
knowing I am clean.

The Miracle of the Sacrament

The Miracle of the Sacrament

If you saw the peace
   in the little crust of bread,
   as eyes were closed
   and thoughts turned upwards;

If you saw the cleansing
   in the little cup of water,
   as if liquid light were poured into a silhouette,
   and great drops of brightness overflow;

If you saw the power
   Christ was willing to use in your behalf,
   the legions of angels armed for battle
   awaiting your prayer for their help;

If you saw the gifts
   He holds, willing to give you,
   the blessings He prepared to make you happy,
   and the joy of living with Him up above;

If you saw the desire
   The Spirit has to live in you,
   to talk to you, to be your friend,
   to make you into something wonderful;

If you saw all this with spiritual eyes –  
   the miracle of the sacrament –  
   would you live the rest of the week
   the way you do now?

The first sunset in the Garden of Eden

Originally published 11-09-19

I know this poem probably isn’t 100% doctrinally correct. The scriptures don’t have many details on the Garden of Eden,  so it’s hard to know much about it with certainty.

The first sunset in the Garden of Eden

The birds
still figuring out how to fly,
tried anyway to flap up
and catch the colors.

The lion and the lamb
stopped playing to see
what made the lamb’s coat
as golden as the lion’s.

The trees,
who feared the dark of night,
were soothed by the flower
of the fading sun.

The crickets,
still untrained violinists,
competed to praise the shades
of beautiful light.

The clouds
tumbling through new air,
paused and held still
to frame the moment.

Adam and Eve
sat side by side
and watched the world
that God had made for them.

Half-Autumn Trees

Originally published 10-26-19

Half-Autumn Trees

For a couple of autumn days 
between the first sparks of color 
and the mountains on fire 

the trees are in my favorite state— 
not entirely red, or brown and shedding, 
but with a few branches tenaciously green.  

It’s a lot like us, with these dashes of life seen among dry, crisp colors— 
divinity heavily spotted with imperfection. 
Though we pretend, sometimes, that we’re nothing but green, 

I like to ponder the half-yellow trees, 
and smile, and look through the leaves 
at the bright white sun. 

For a couple of autumn days 
between the first sparks of color 
and the mountains on fire 

the trees are in my favorite state— 
not entirely red, or brown and shedding, 
but with a few branches tenaciously green.  

It’s a lot like us, with these dashes of life seen among dry, crisp colors— 
divinity heavily spotted with imperfection. 
Though we pretend, sometimes, that we’re nothing but green, 

I like to ponder the half-yellow trees, 
and smile, and look through the leaves 
at the bright white sun. 

To Friends Who Know How to Hear Silence

Originally published 08-21-19

I have had several experiences this week that have taught me
the priceless value of friends who know how to really listen. When I wrote this
poem, it wasn’t based on any specific personal experience, but I think we all have times
in our lives where we need friends who know how to hear silence.

To Friends Who Know How to Hear Silence

When the loudest noise is the stubborn air conditioner,
            and tears rolling on cheeks,

When words are gone, are incomplete,
            though repeated however heartfelt,

When it seems that each man—and I—am an island,
            an ocean away from true connection,
            an ocean away from humanity,

When all I have inside that must be said has
            no words, no true names,

When my thin voice cannot capture my bursting soul,

How thankful I am for friends
            who know how to hear silence.

Frosted Flowers

Originally published 03-15-19

Frosted Flowers

I saw the flowerbed
In the winter morning sun–
Mulch, with
Strong short tulip sprouts,
And white and purple pansies.

In the middle, a statue–a man, a woman,
And a child taking early but encouraged steps
In a joyous, bronzed moment–
And in their shadow, frost.

The frosted flowers, I saw,
Weren’t dead,
But drooped,
Vibrant petals
Hanging down,
Slumped, dejected.

The sun had just climbed enough
that the shadow abandoned one slumping pansy.
It twitched.
The head slowly lifted
And the flower drooped
Not quite as far.

Further from the shade,
I saw the bright purples standing tall,
Proud, stripped of frost by
Bright sunlight,
Becoming bright nature,
And the day seemed warmer.

And I walked away warm inside,
Feeling that however long
And cold
The night,
The sun will come,
And I can rise, bright again.