Saturday, April 23, 2011

Apart Yet Not Afar

Well, it has happened at last - I have come home from college. You remember how homesick I was when I first started this blog? How this whole thing kept me sane because I could commit my feelings to someone elses' eyes, albeit unseen? Well, now I'm doing the same thing again - but longing for a different home.

The move home has been hard, but as a result I've discovered something that I probably should have put together years ago. I think I knew it for a lot of that time, but I never really articulated fully, even to myself.

You know the old phrase "Home is where the heart is," right? It's about that saying that I wish to write today. However, I would make an addition. Consider it like one of those old logic problems: "Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal." Well, here's my spin off of Caius. "Home is where the heart is, the heart is with loved ones, therefore the home is with loved ones."

Does that make sense?

I've been with my parents and siblings in our beautiful mountain valley home, sitting by a fire and drinking wassail and watching a movie or reading books from Dad's library. I've also been with them in a room in the Holiday Inn on the edge of town, with next to no belongings and no house to go to. I've even seen them out in the wilderness, when all of us were living in a tent, wearing torn jeans and old sweatshirts and smelling like sweat and campfire smoke. But no matter where we were, I was happy - because I loved them anyway.

I have been with my fondest friends in the comfort of our apartments, laughing and enjoying good food (usually courtesy of Adrianne) and listenening to Brittany or Adrianne singing or Katie playing heavenly strains on the harp. I have also been with them when we were all makeup-less and wearing pajama bottoms in the middle of the day, hoping that none of the young men from the ward would choose that moment to call on us. I have seen them in snow and rainstorms, on campus and off, and while hiking up temple hill in the middle of January. But no matter where we were, I was happy - because they were with me.

Whether it be my friends, my kin, my parents, my brothers, my sister - it won't matter where we are. If they are with me, I am home.

And once you have made your home with someone, and bound up your heart so closely with theirs, something happens. No matter where you go, even when you are alone, there is a part of them that will be with you. It is as it is written in a poem my Grandma Pullan shared with me:

"Go thou thy way and I'll go mine
Apart yet not afar
Only a thin veil hangs between
the pathways where we are.
'For God keeps watch 'tween thee and me'
So never fear.
One arm round thee and one round me
will keep us near."

See? Isn't that an amazing blessing? Those that we love, though apart from us, are never far away. This even goes for those who have parted from this mortal world. I know that God keeps watch between me and my great grandparents who have passed on to their next habitation, just as he does between me and my fond ones who have parted from each other until next fall. And better still is the blessed promise that one day we will no longer be kept apart, but will be reunited before the Lord.

"I know not where thy road my lead
nor the way of mine
but coming to the judgement seat my soul shall meet with thine.
'And God keeps watch 'tween thee and me'
I'll whisper there.
He blesseth thee, he blesseth me,
and we are near."

'Til next time my friends - and may He always keep watch over thee and me.   

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Raindrops and Hyacinth

Well, it seems that the old saying is come true. April showers we have had aplenty, and the spring flowers begin to emerge. The robins are back, singing in the tree branches and on telephone poles; t-shirts and pastel church dresses are becoming less and less endangered every day; the grass is rising greener, and the wind is blowing gentle from the East. Spring, my friends, is upon us. But, as mentioned before, that does tend to bring with it the occasional cloudburst - as was the case yesterday.

The day before, Sunday, was absolutely beautiful - but Monday dawned cold and gray. Everything outside was wet when the apartment woke, as though it had been raining earlier, and before too long it began to rain again. With all the anxiety and pressure of finals and the emotional ache of approaching partings weighing heavy to begin with, it did not improve my morale to look outside and see the dark, rain-laden clouds hanging low over the valley. The morning didn't change anything, filled only with the tense silence that accompanies rigorous study.

Later that afternoon, I hurried up to campus to take one of my finals and found myself wanting for cheer, feeling alone and troubled by many things. Feeling the need to see something beautiful so as to improve my thoughts, I went and stood for a time in front of the fine arts center, allowing myself to be rained on and looking at the blossoming tulips that grew there.

I remembered the way in which a friend had put things into perspective for me. The end of finals was right around the corner - and really, with all the hard study and reading I had done for my classes throughout the semester, I was more prepared than I thought I was. I would soon go home and have the best of summers, filled with family and friends, sunshine and sprinklers, petunias and popcicles, hard work and hard play... Then we would return to BYU and have a semester just as wonderful as this one has been. And after that, we would go to Jerusalem and have the experience of a lifetime... How blessed I have been! And how blessed I shall be! To think of it that way, I could not keep myself from being comforted.

As I came away from the tulip bed, I had a thought. It was spontaneous and out of character, but I acted on it anyway - I took off one of my shoes and tested the ground. It wasn't all that cold. The earth and pavement were warm, and the rainwater was fresh and cool. So without further ado, I removed my other shoe and set off for the JKB walking barefoot in the rain.

It was good and wholesome and healing - like new rain should be. The cool water splashed over my feet, and the still-falling raindrops delicately annointed my uncovered face and hands. The whole world was filled with the smell of moist earth and growing grass and - as I bent over one of the flower planters - the sweet perfume of fresh hyacinth. Every hue was brightened by the rain, turned by the storm's magical touch into the world's finest treasures - emerald grasses, jewel-bright tulips and pansies and hyacinth, ghost-white flowering tree buds, and paving stones of shining silver. And there I was in the middle of it - bare headed and shoeless and smiling.

Yes, it was probably not wise. Yes, I got funny looks - more than my usual share. Yes, I could have caught my death out there, and yes, the bottoms of my pants got soaked, and yes, my feet were nearly numb by the time I got to the appropriate building.

I don't care.

For a few moments, I was able to leave behind everything that was weighing me down. I was able to remove the intervening layers and make myself a part of the magic that was nature. I was at one with the puddles, the storm, the growth and newness and life all around me. It is as Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

"To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most person do not see the sun. At least, they have a   very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child.... To the body and mind which have been cramped by noxious work or company, nature is medicinal and restores their tone. The tradesman, the attorney, comes out of the din and craft of the street, and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man again. In their eternal calm, he finds himself."

This time of year is hard and crazy, especially for students. My encouragement for the day is this: find a little nature every day. A flower, a bird song, a vernal breeze... whatever you will. As Emerson so perfectly put it, come away from the craft and din for a few moments, let nature work its magic upon you, and allow yourself to become a little more human. You don't have to go any futher than outside your door - no long hikes or retreats required - but even so, in nature's eternal calm, you will find yourself. Go see the sun, feel the moving wind, or walk barefoot in the rain - and let yourself become whole.

Faithfully yours - 'til next time...  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sunday Scribblings #262 - Befuddled

I know why you're here. You've come to ask me what happened. That's right, isn't it? You want me to tell you the whole sad story.

Well, then, I don't suppose you'll believe me when I tell you that I don't know.

Don't look at me like that. I know what you're thinking. "Of course she doesn't know. That's what they all say." Think what you will - but its true. I don't know what happened.

It's not that I don't remember. Not really. I do remember, but only in flashes - like seeing bits of the landscape lit up in a lightining storm. Something here, something there, but never the whole picture. I can't even say for sure if I did it or not. They tell me I did, so I suppose I must have - but I don't know.

Could I have done it? Physically speaking, I suppose so... but I don't think I have the right psychology. Not normally anyway. Normally, I wouldn't be able to lift a finger toward such a thing. But people can become desperate. At that moment, perhaps...

Perhaps I could have done it.

You read books or hear stories where a character feels something "snap" inside them. I didn't have that moment. I didn't feel anything snap. Something must have happened, though... With a whole resevoir of emotion pressing against my every nerve, there must have been a point when the dam burst.

But I didn't feel it.

There we were, and he was... and I... and the next thing I knew, there were more people around... I couldn't say if I was on my feet or on my back... that horrible thing was in my hand and I couldn't say how it got there... He was bleeding... it was on me, too... Someone was shouting, people were shouting, running... People asking questions  I couldn't answer...

They took me away after that.

They say I should plead insanity. I won't do it, though... I won't... I wasn't insane. I don't know what I was, but I wasn't insane. I'm not crazy, I wasn't crazy then and I wasn't crazy now.

That's all I know. Please, don't ask me anything else. That's all I know.

I don't know what happened, I swear.

On my honor.

So help me, God.

I don't know...