Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Echoes of the Ages

Greetings, once again, friends, kin, near relations, strangers, critics, and enemies alike. You are reading Everyday Magic. If this is not the blog you were trying to reach, my apologies - you somehow typed the wrong URL. If I may say so, however, you might find it worth your while to read on. I've actually got a really good story for today.

I have had a momunental experience as I rambled through the Social Sciences section today. This afternoon, here in the Harold B. Lee Library (from whence I now write), I handled the oldest book it has ever been my privelage to encounter. It was a very aged thing, wearing away at the bindings, barely keeping it's long-since yellowed pages together. I could not at first locate a date within, so I had thought to simply put it away and move on. As I was about to shelve it, however, I caught sight of the library catalogue label on the spine - and couldn't suppress a gasp. This book - a collection of heroes and characters from Greek antiquity - was published in London, England... in 1774. 1774! I couldn't believe my eyes. I was holding a work of non-fiction literature that was 237 years old... older than my grandparents, my great grandparents, my great-great grandparents... something to the tune of four or five "greats" on the prefix.

I was suspended for some time in a state of awe. I withdrew the book again from the shelf, carefully examining the pages and cover with a sort of profound revrence. The inside cover held two labels - one with stamped the crest of the Royal Family (the lion and the Unicorn) that read "Haud Muto Factum" (Latin for "nothing comes from being mute"); the other depicting a tall sailing ship with the words "Ex Libris" ("from the books") printed above. Within the cover was written the name John J. Kest. My mind immediately started going a mile a minute. Who was John Kest? He wasn't the author... so perhaps an owner of the book? What did tall ships have to do with anything? What did the author and the printer and Kest think about the Americas? Did any of them realize that revolution was but a year away?

A veritable treasure trove - and right there in a college library. I remained with the book for some time, looking it over and enjoying its presence. I was reluctant to shelve it again and return to my usual work. However, even after I had left the bookshelves, visions of John Kest and sailing ships and antiquitous books danced before me, and my hands smelled of the dusty vellum cover for an hour afterwards.

I was reminded of this poem by Emily Dickinson:

A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is
To meet an antique book,
In just the dress his century wore;
A privilege, I think,

His venerable hand to take,
And warming in our own,
A passage back, or two, to make
To times when he was young.

His quaint opinions to inspect,
His knowledge to unfold
On what concerns our mutual mind,
The literature of old;

What interested scholars most,
What competitions ran
When Plato was a certainty.
And Sophocles a man;

When Sappho was a living girl,
And Beatrice wore
The gown that Dante deified.
Facts, centuries before,

He traverses familiar,
As one should come to town
And tell you all your dreams were true;
He lived where dreams were sown.

His presence is enchantment,
You beg him not to go;
Old volumes shake their vellum heads
And tantalize, just so.

I have experienced the action of this poem firsthand today. I certainly believe that last stanza - "His presence is enchantment, you beg him not to go... old volumes shake their vellum heads and tantalize just so." That said, I think I can truly proclaim that I have been both fully tantalized and unwittingly enchanted today. I was glad to make the aquaintance of such an ancient friend, and I can promise that I will certainly be back to see him again very soon.

Many thanks, and keep smiling! 'Til next we meet...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Scribblings #251 - Eternity

The little girl walks down into the water, where her father stands waiting for her. He takes her hands and arranges them on his arm as they had practiced, she intently trying to remember his earlier instructions while concious of the luke-warm font water soaking through her jumpsuit. She closes her eyes as her father raises his arm to the square, addresses her by her full name, and speaks the baptismal blessing. As soon as the 'amen' is spoken, he carefully pushes her back and submerges her beneath the water. For an instant all is silent, then she is up again - blinking and spluttering, but suddenly... happy.

The little one leaves the font to put on her new white dress, feeling lighter and more cheerful than ever before. It had happened so quickly, but she knew that didn't matter... she was baptised. "Clean and pure...," she whispered to herself. And so she was.


The young bride and her handsome husband came out of the temple at 11:30, and hour and fifteen minutes after going in. Her flowing white dress blended in with the pearly white stone behind her, both sparkling bright in the sunlight. Pictures were arranged with both families - first with his parents, then hers, then the siblings, then all the aunts and uncles and cousins.

The day to come will be a long one, filled with greetings and goings and preparations for the reception. But for now, all that is forgotten as she looks deeply into the eyes of the man she loves more than anyone in the world and smiles as he draws her close. He sweeps her up into his arms and walks down the hill to the gates, the sealer's words still ringing in both of their ears. Together... not "'Til death do us part," but "For time and all eternity..." And so it was.


The newspapers had put a story out about it the week before, but it was small and went generally unnoticed. A teenager and an involved in a car crash. Black ice... an accident by most accounts, though the police wouldn't have called it so. Both cars were totalled. Both men were killed.

The young man's family was devastated. At his funeral there was a great deal of pain and many tears. The widow of the old man attended, but she felt that there was little she could say or do to assuage their grief. Yet it made her heart ache to see them brought so low - they looked as though they would never be happy again.

Her husband's funeral could not have been more different. There were tears, and there was time for mourning... But when all the words had been spoken and the dedication of the gravesite was through, the crying stopped. The pain of loss was still present, of course, and would be for some time to come - but it was only a shadow of what it had been before. The family retired to the cultural hall in the church and enjoyed a beautiful meal prepared by the Relief Society sisters of that ward. There was laughter and conversation again, smiles and love flowing freely. Somehow, it was almost impossible to feel pain in the midst of such joy.

Later, at home, the widow continued to smile. It had been a beautiful service... the best she could have hoped for. Everything was cleared up now, and everyone gone home... but there was one more thing that needed to be done. For a moment she disappeared into the bedroom, then came again into the living room, this time with a framed photograph in hand. She looked at it fondly - an unplanned shot of a beaming bride being kissed by a dashing young husband. Smiling again, though a little sadly, she placed the picture next to the painting of Jesus Christ on the mantlepiece. For a moment the tears almost came again, but one glance at the Savior stopped them. It would be alright... She would see him again soon. And when she did, it would not be a fleeting embrace, but a lasting union...

"For time and all eternity." And so it is.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Love's Magical Touch

Again, I am going off of a quote. If you've read my little quotes list to your immediate right, you will have seen it before. It was spoken (or written) by Charles Morgan, and it goes as follows:

"There is no surprise more magical than being loved. It is God's finger on man's shoulder."

I want you to think back to your childhood. Remember the people who were close to you... and single one out who could be considered your best friend. If there's more than one, that's fine, too. What were they like? Why did you like to be with them? And most importantly, what did you feel like when they were around you?

I have a poem to share with you now. Keep that person in mind, and read this excerpt:

I love you
not only for what you are,
but for what I am
when I am with you.

I love you
not only for what
you have made of yourself,
but for what
you are making of me.

I love you
for the part of me
that you bring out.
I love you
for putting your hand
into my heaped-up heart
and passing over
all the foolish, weak things
you cannot help
dimly seeing there
and drawing out
into the light
all the beautiful belongings
no one else had looked
quite far enough to find.

There's more to it, but it's rather long - by Roy Croft, I think it is. Anyway, does this sound any familiar tones with you? It does with me. Here at college I have found some of the best friends I have ever known. And in doing so, I have discovered a version of myself that I didn't know before. It's true. They are the sort of friends that make me want to be my best self - and I have found that I love the person that I am when I am with them. They make me feel like I am someone worth being... and after hearing it so many times, I have begun to believe it. Just a little, day by day - but still.

Have any of you had those kinds of friends? Do you have any now? Then my thought of the day is this: the best thing you can do for a good friend to give them your thanks is to be a good friend back to them. It's easy to do, really... and it's such a beautiful feeling for everyone. I would also remind my readers that there are many out there who have not been truly befriended. May I encourage you to give of yourself to those who need it. A little love can work wonders - it truly can. A person touched by the love and belief of another can become almost a new being.

The effect is... how shall we say it... magical?

'Til next we meet my friends. Fare thee well... 

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Great Decision

Welcome once again to Everyday Magic, coming to you for the first time in this brand new year of 2011! The holidays are at an end, and routine has made its annual encroachment back into our lives. But no worries there - good old routine will soon be welcome enough.

Today is all about a choice. For many years, my mother kept a little framed embroidery sample hanging in the upstairs bathroom, just above the towels. Being in such an often used room, the members of our family had many opportunities to read it throughout the day - as we went about brushing our teeth, bathing little ones, washing hands and so forth. It read as follows:

"We are as happy as we make up our minds to be."

Now as a child, this phrase was lost on me. I thought it meant that we would be happy when we made up our minds to become something. We are as happy as we make up our minds to be... nurses? To be mothers? Primary leaders? I was a long way off the mark. This little quote means that we are only as happy as we choose to be. What an idea! We can choose to be happy... just imagine the sorts of possibilities that open up.

This idea came back to me as I was sitting around on the couch a couple nights ago. I hadn't been given much homework, so I was rather bored. Without some sort of productive occupation, I'd had a relapse of homesickness and was vainly craving human companionship. I had been in such a sorry state for over an hour before it occured to me. I didn't have to be miserable. I could choose, right then and there, to be happy, have a good day, and to be content with where I was. Even though the lonliness did persist a little, I was much improved thereafter.

The decision is yours, my friends - happiness or sorrow, contentment or misery. Your pick. And while there is no doubt that our circumstances do contribute to our emotional well being, they are only what we make of them. In the words of a poet, "Environment is but [our] looking glass." We possess the ability to make the world around us completely miserable if we view it through the wrong mindset. But if we can make the world miserable, surely we can make it joyful as well?

Perhaps I am simply a broken record. The appearance of the world depends on how you look at it - I've surely said it a thousand times. But it's a true now as it was last semester. Your world is only as bright, as beautiful, as magical, and as happy as you make up your mind that it shall be.

May you be safe and cared for, my friends, 'til next we meet...