Thursday, December 13, 2012

How some of us old football players think of the game


Rick Telander on Football’s Lessons for Life: Discipline, Listening, Fun, Testing, Pain and Loss

“Emily Dickinson is a poet I admire.  She wrote about bees, and clouds, and daisies, and within her quiet realm she unlocked the universe. ‘For each ecstatic instant we must in anguish pay, in keen and quivering ratio to the ecstasy.’

“I think of all the things football has taught me. The obvious things, discipline, the importance of listening to instructions. Yeah, I limp because of football. But if it weren’t for football I would limp because life makes everybody limp. And there were other lessons too.

“Colliding with things is just a whole damn lot of fun. Testing yourself is necessary. Pain does not have to be evil. Football ends. Like everything you care about. The clock runs out. And you will lose. Imagine. Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers, two of the greatest in history, never played in a post-season game. And so you have to accept losing. Or, rather you don’t. You process and store and sift it. You turn it in your hands and look at it from all angles. You see that loss is inevitable, and that your thirst can never be quenched, and that everything will someday wither away. And you decide what that means to you.”

(Rick Telander was an All Big Ten Conference defensive back his senior year for the Northwestern University football team. He was drafted in 1971 by the Kansas City Chiefs, but was cut during training camp. He kept a journal of his thoughts and experiences. He became an author and writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN.) 



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On the Em Dash

And now for something completely different. See link below.

This afternoon I was happy to accidentally run across an article in the New York Times about an issue near and dear to my heart – one with strong implications for writing with clarity, emphasis and style – the long forgotten, but mighty Em Dash.* I am not talking about the hyphen.**


I have long preferred the old-style usage of the Em Dash to the lowly comma. The Em Dash profitably draws attention to key parenthetical statements which modify the main idea at hand. This usage allows for concurrent thoughts being melded together as one into a complex blend of related ideas. This method is preferable (when it is preferable) to putting the parenthetical statement into a following stand-alone sentence. Or using parentheses themselves.

Ah. Freedom of choice! Freedom of expression! Freedom from confining, unprofitable, arbitrary rules!***

Glad to know that the New York Times addresses the interesting -- if not important -- issues of the day. I am not being sarcastic.

* (–)

** (-)

*** (Perhaps they will next delve into the hated exclamation point!)

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/mad-dash/


Sunday, September 30, 2012

On Fasting and Prayer

Scott L. Vanatter

Opening

Time seemed to stand still. A woman drove her car through a red light, crashing into Becky’s side of our Volvo. We had a green light all the way. I was driving. Our car flipped over, then spun around and around crossing two lanes of opposing traffic. The sun roof popped off. Windows shattered and glass spread throughout the car, and our hair, and our clothes, and our pockets like a shower of hot water. After the car stopped spinning, it was resting upside down on its roof on the curb on the opposite side of the street, a twisted pile of metal, broken glass, and dripping engine fluids.

Then, my dear sweet young unconscious wife, seven months pregnant with our second daughter, suddenly went into massive and violent seizures. Blood seemed to be coming from everywhere. After what seemed an eternity, but which probably only lasted for about a minute, her seizures violently stopped. Then it was perfect stillness and absolute silence.

In that moment it appeared as though my childhood sweetheart, the love of my life, my wife of almost four years had just died -- right in front of my eyes. Inside, I screamed, No. Outside, in the world, I reached for my vial of consecrated oil, anointed her head and blessed her and our unborn baby -- by the power of the priesthood -- to live. In the few moments between her stillness and the words of the ordinance, a thousand other thoughts and images of the future flashed through my mind. Too many to mention today.

For the next day or so, I didn’t – I couldn’t -- think of anything but my wife’s and my unborn baby’s life and health. Hunger, thirst and everything else faded into insignificance. (I should say that our oldest daughter was not in the car with us that day; she spent the day with my mother as Becky and I went to lunch together.)

Theme

Now, there is a reason I tell this story. It has to do with my theme today, Fasting and Prayer. I will try to explain.

At times of extreme stress -- for example, a terrible automobile accident, or a major natural disaster -- we often go into a type of hyper-focus. We think of nothing else, other than the health and safety of our family and friends. We are so attentive to the pressing issues at hand, all other things fade away -- at least for a brief period time. We are so into the moment, that nothing else matters.

We are so busy looking after and caring for others that we may not realize that we have not eaten anything -- till much later that night.

Now, something along the same lines can also happen to us in times of extreme joy. For example, when a dear friend, perhaps a convert you haven’t seen for over 35 years, makes a surprise visit to you all the way from Australia. You hug and talk and talk till late in to the wee hours of the morning. You forget for a period of time -- even outside time -- all temporal concerns. So “caught up” are you in happiness and joy, that all earthly concerns fade away. The next morning you awake, return to normal, and enjoy a shared meal. Everything in its due time.

Communication

In or after experiencing these heights or depths if we add the idea of an overt communication -- and even an ongoing communion -- with Deity, we can set them deep in our souls, writing these moments on the contours of our heart. Never to be forgotten. Yes, through prayer we can pierce the veil of forgetfulness and see into the vast realities of the eternities. Right here on earth. Right now, and forever.

While the searing immediacy of the exquisite pain, or joy of these scenes does not last very long, we can, as the poet said, “Hold infinity in the palm of [our] hand, And eternity in an hour.” (William Blake)

But sooner or later we do return from an adrenalin rush, to focus on the growing hunger which -- in the midst of great strivings or deep joys – had become of secondary concern.

Upon reflection, this hunger -- which can act as a stand in for other “desires, appetites and passions” -- becomes something which we, under normal circumstances, can now more easily put back into its proper and perfect place. It is something we can now take care of naturally and profitably. We do need “constant nourishment” to our body and spirit. But for a time, we are not harmed by the lack, in fact in some wonderful way, the feeling of hunger facilitates our focus on important things, on “the things of God.”

Joseph Smith observed that,

“The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity -- thou must commune with God.“ (Joseph Smith -- Teachings, Page 137)

Experiment

So, let’s experiment for a few moments in looking at these opposing, yet similar scenarios. Let’s examine what is the core experience of these highs and lows. Let’s focus on the kernel of this idea: that we can enjoy the paradoxical melding of two supposed opposites: the inner and outer, the spiritual and the material, the earthly and the heavenly, the merely human with the sublime divine. Being an hungered, but also being filled. To overflowing.

In a wonderful way, a special kind of prayer can greatly assist us in making this needed connection with the Divine. That special kind of prayer is a fasting prayer. I prefer to think of fasting not as, fasting and that we should remember prayer, but as a specially-dedicated prayer assisted by fasting. This assist, by fasting, can become a key element in our personal quest to be at One with Jesus -- as He points the way back to Eternal Life with our Father in Heaven. Jesus is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

When we fast we feel in the pit our stomach a growing sense of physical emptiness. A feeling of lack. A feeling of need. A feeling of yearning to be full again. When we feel this physical feeling of need, let’s also remember our inner spiritual awareness of need. The spiritual mirroring the physical. The physical pointing us to the spiritual. When we feel the physical need for nourishment of tangible, edible food; let’s use this gnawing physical hunger to remind us that we also need “constant nourishment of both body and spirit.” After we make this connection, let us go about actually fulfilling those shared, mirrored, very real twin needs.

Sacred Spaces

One can enter sacred, holy space in many ways. We can do so in the Temple; in contemplative, meditative pondering and prayer; in service to others; in Sacrament meeting when we focus on remembering the life and sacrifice and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ; and yes, we can enter sacred space through the portal of fasting -- Fasting and Prayer. Or, as I have suggested, a specially-dedicated prayer, assisted by fasting. It has been said that fasting, without prayer is simple going hungry. While there may be a few side benefits, physical benefits, from a periodic fast, these pale in comparison to the eternal value of a spiritual fast. Paradoxically a physical fast can and should become a spiritual feast.

Every prayer is sincere, every prayer is precious, when we seek to commune with our Father. However, just as there are varied times and circumstances and needs, so we can and should offer up periodic special prayers. Prayers accompanied by the power of fasting.

Let’s all remember to use these ritual places, spaces, and sacred moments as a periodic opportunity to inculcate these eternal principles into our inmost selves -- in our Sacrament worship, in our Temple worship, and yes, in our fasting and prayer – or, rather, personal worship.

It is Personal

Now, please listen to how President Joseph F. Smith described the Law of the Fast, and how he cautioned against certain excesses.

Quote: “The Lord has instituted the fast on a reasonable and intelligent basis…. Hence, those who can, are required to comply thereto; it is a duty from which they cannot escape; but let it be remembered that the observance of the Fast Day by abstaining…from food and drink [for two meals] is not an absolute rule, it is no iron-clad law to us, but it is left with the people as a matter of conscience, to exercise [in] wisdom and discretion. Many are subject to weakness, others are delicate in health, and others have nursing babies; of such it should not be required to fast. Neither should parents compel their little children to fast. I have known children to cry for something to eat on fast day. In such cases, going without food will do them no good. Instead, they dread the day to come, and in place of hailing it, dislike it; while the compulsion engenders a spirit of rebellion in them, rather than a love for the Lord and their fellows. Better teach them the principle, and let them observe it when they are old enough to choose intelligently, than to so compel them.” End quote.

Our fasting, indeed our prayers -- even why and how and when we do missionary work – this is all personal, between us and the Lord. The bishop does not ask us how long we fast, or how deeply we fast and pray. This matter is left to us, to our own discretion. It is between our heart and the Lord’s heart. As Joseph Smith said to a Catholic priest visiting Nauvoo, “I teach the correct principles, and they govern themselves.”

As much as the Heavens desire us to rise to our full potential, none there will (and none here should) exert compulsion in any degree.

Our fasting need not be lengthy or particularly painful to be efficacious. It is the idea of what we are doing -- and the yearning we let our inner-selves express – which makes it work in us. It is the mix of the spiritual with physical laws related to this inner and outer experience which makes it work. Not its length. We need not fast for a week -- much less for forty days -- to show our love of the Lord. Two meals, consecrating our hearts and lives to the Lord, along with the concomitant donations on behalf of the poor and needy, are enough. It is the depth of our consecration, not how many hours we go without food. [FOOTNOTE 1]

Symbol and Power of Fasting

In fasting we know there is an end to hunger; we will be filled again. Remember though, there are those in the world, near or far, who are not so sure there is an end to the hunger they feel inside. Physical hunger. Yes, our fast offerings do in fact offer tangible assistance to those who hunger. And, there are also those around the world, both near and far, who hunger – though they may not yet fully recognize it -- for a better way. For the Spirit. For Wholeness. For Oneness. For Fullness. For God. Or a closer communion with God. A hunger for the things of the spirit. We too need to feel this spiritual hunger. We all need Heavenly manna.

Especially when we add a spiritual aspect to the fasting equation, we realize that for some in the world their common situation is one of lack, a constant feeling bordering on emptiness, a lack of fullness. Again, in the very real world of this physical life, they hunger for food which may be found on grocery stores, or in bishops’ storehouses. And, in the very real world of this spiritual life, there are those which hunger for real spiritual food which can be found in the testimonies of our members and missionaries.

For some, going without table food is the rule. For some, going without spiritual nourishment is the rule. There are some who desire to feast, but they are without means. In like manner, there are some know they can spiritually feast, but have some other kind of lack – perhaps self imposed -- which prevents them from partaking.

Others, have sufficient means, and to spare, for even daily feasting. (Perhaps much of the modern world.) In the midst of all this plenty we can use fasting to learn to see into the human condition -- and into the heavenly realm -- by paradoxically focusing on lack, on emptiness, on leanness, on less, so that we can – again, this is a paradox – in some wonderful way, see into the true meaning of what it means to be full, to be filled to overflowing. [FOOTNOTE 2]

The Fullness

When we feel full, spiritually, we speak of our cup overflowing, we speak of our hearts being full, we speak of our hearts swelling as wide as eternity. However, some missionaries go to the biggest cities of the world, or to distant settings in a far away land -- far from the prosperity and opportunities and benefits of a modern society. They see many who are on the precipice of real need. Serious want. Missionaries are in the change business. They help people move from one situation to another. From a lower plane to a higher one. Or, form a higher place to even greater heights.

Suggestion: Can we think of our personal fasts as (in a symbolic way) our best inner-self, seeking to be a kind of a missionary to our current outer-selves? In other words, we seek to teach and impress these special spiritual insights and newly enlivened principles of a higher plane, to a higher self. Now, I am not making too much of this experiment. All I mean is that we can view fasting as a time -- or a moment outside time — where we “gaze into heaven five minutes” and see that of a better realm. [FOOTNOTE 3]

Special Fasts

Monthly we are afforded the opportunity to fast and pray and donate a generous fast offering -- the value of two meals, or many times that as we are able. For some of us these months rush by, they come and go. Some of us even forget which Sunday is Fast Sunday. Others eagerly look forward to this once-a-month event and dedicate their fast to the Lord for special purposes. [FOOTNOTE 4]

Of course, there are those unique circumstances where we intuitively know deep inside that we need to pray with fasting. The Book of Mormon sometimes uses the term, mighty prayer. Because of the pressing desires we do not want to wait till the next Fast Sunday.

Joseph Smith described these periodic experiences thusly,

"Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience [in this case, assisted by fasting]. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject." (Joseph Smith, HC 6:324)

Perhaps we can feel to have more of these experiences. [FOOTNOTE 5]

In the Scriptures

In the scriptures Ancient Israel fasted on the Day of Atonement. King David wrote that we “humble our souls with fasting” (Ps. 35:13). Daniel taught that he sought God “by prayer and supplications, with fasting” (Dan. 9:3). Joel preached that we are to “turn …to [God] with all [our] heart, and with fasting” (Joel 2:12).

Jesus fasted just prior to the beginning of his earthly ministry. Paul wrote that [in] “hunger and thirst” (2 Cor. 11:27) he “prayed with fasting” before he “ordained elders in every church” (Acts 14:23). Paul then urged us to, “Give [ourselves] to fasting and prayer” (1 Cor. 7:5). He further wrote that when he was “in perils…in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, and in cold and nakedness….” he fasted. (2 Cor. 11:27). We can too. [FOOTNOTE 6]

Why Fast

So, why fast? Because fasting as we have described, helps create in us, in a way nothing else can, a wrinkle in the fabric of the veil which separates heaven and earth. Our sacred fasts are a brief moment in time – perhaps outside time -- where we break away from the physical world and into the heavenly world; where we rise from the tangible gross matter of the material world into the more refined substance of the spiritual realm; where we are less in time, than eternity; where we focus not so much on the temporal but the eternal.

When we can move our focus from the physical hunger to spiritual hunger, from physical pain to spiritual healing, and from the physical to the divine, then our fasts serve their purpose. [FOOTNOTE 7]

Why Not Now

Why not use our monthly fast as a special opportunity for prayer, for closeness, for insight, for new ways to see, for power to overcome, for power to know, for power to do. Yes, as President Kimball asked, “Why not now”?

It is time for some of us to fast with more depth, with more focus, with more seriousness, with a sense of eagerness to pierce the veil and see the vast realities which stand behind the great symbols of the Sacrament, the temple endowment, and yes the fulcrum of fasting and prayer – which can and should be, “fasting and rejoicing.”

We rejoice now that we see, now that we are connected even more surely than ever before, now that we are empowered at a higher level, to be and do what we are destined to be and do.

President Monson, citing one of the great Protestant ministers, said that when “willingness overflows obligation . . . [we would] gladly do more if only [we] could.”

This explains the mystery, now made simple, of how a sensation of physical emptiness can paradoxically foster and motivate us to a feeling of spiritual fullness. AND it offers us special insights into the heart of our Precious Savior, our Dear Redeemer Jesus… and how he yearns for us to be with Him.

To Fast and Pray

To fast and pray is . . .
  • to humble ourselves
  • to elevate and focus our thoughts
  • to put one’s flesh under control of our spirit
  • to overcome the world
  • to rightly order our desires, appetites, and passions
  • to lay aside the impulses which cause us to be less than we know we can be
  • to yearn for the good, the eternal, the generous, the divine
  • to seek unity, oneness, wholeness, completeness
  • to seek communion, communication with the divine
  • to seek inspiration, even revelation
To fast and pray is . . .
  • to make the veil between heaven and earth a bit thinner
  • it is to pierce the veil of forgetfulness and see the face of God, and his Life, and his Heart
  • and it is to identity with the inner yearnings Jesus felt when he fasted and prayed for us (whether in the desert or in the Garden)
To fast and pray is . . .
  • to love our neighbor as ourselves
To fast and pray is to also give of one’s means -- and of one’s self -- in the free will gift of a generous fast offering. This, as Alma reminds us, plays an important part in retaining and enjoying a remission of our sins.

Fasting and prayer in this manner becomes a token of the value we place on the heavenly in the midst of the earthly. It is a symbol that we can live in the world, but not of the world.

Joseph Smith challenged us to elevate our minds to “rise higher and higher… until [we] can ‘comprehend with all Saints what is the breadth and length, and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.’” (Ephesians 3:18–19)

A fasting prayer need not be connected to dramatic events, but rather the still small moments of evening contemplation and prayer, the sacred silence of our being able to feel the impact of His kind and loving request to, “Be Still and Know that I Am God.”

Only through giving our whole souls over to the fasting experience, can we truly declare with the Lord in DC 59, that “Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.” (DC 59:14)

Our Shared Mission with Jesus

In conclusion, after fasting for 40 days, Jesus walked out of desert and into a nearby synagogue. He opened the scriptures and read aloud from Isaiah (chapter 61). When Jesus finished the reading He declared Himself to be the fulfillment of the principles in this verse (a summary):
  • to “preach good tidings . . .
  • to bind up the brokenhearted,
  • to proclaim liberty to the captives . . .
  • to comfort all that mourn…”
For us, the prophet Isaiah (chapter 58) carefully outlined how we should fast, why we should fast, and then described what will result from the ‘fast He has chosen’ for us. Note that these principles are surprisingly similar to what Jesus declared were His purpose in that first public utterance on the first day of his public ministry,

“6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen?
  • to loose the bands of wickedness,
  • to undo the heavy burdens,
  • and to let the oppressed go free . . .
  • 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, …” [FOOTNOTE 8]
Testimony

Dear brothers and sisters, I bear my witness of the value of Fasting coupled with Prayer. Mighty Prayer, for in my extremities, this is, naturally where I have turned. I have been blessed by the Lord -- even in the midst of such prayers, and of course in the days that follow, as I have prayed and fasted for myself, or members in my family. I have discovered for myself that in times of seeming impassable barriers, He opens a way. Perhaps not as quickly or directly as we might originally have wanted. But in these new paths, I have found new and renewed ways to love see, to love, and to understand, and where and how to repent, where needed. Through tears of yearning and tears of joy, and in fasting I have been able to better see and better love Jesus.

I realize in preparing these remarks that I need to apply myself more regularly, and more deeply in adding deeper fasting to more constant and sincere prayers. I know though, that He has calmed my troubled heart and shown me the way in times of special fasting. For this I am grateful.

I pray we can all find deeper and abiding joy in fasting and prayer, in the name of our Exemplar in these things, and our True Friend, even Jesus Christ, Amen.

#

FOOTNOTE 1

It is Spiritual

Recall this from the Lord in DC 29, “I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was [solely] temporal; . . . Behold… my commandments are spiritual…” (DC 29:34-35). There is always a spiritual component to the Lord’s ways and commandments. It is there, even when we don’t take the time to notice. But when we do notice – even if it takes a while to realize it -- these are the special, sacred “ah-ha” moments with the Lord. Some of our most satisfying, some of our most beautiful, and some of the most personal and cherished moments with Him are when we wake up to some important eternal principle, one we have never fully comprehended before, but now one which helps us see into His heart that much more deeply. These are the moments that fasting and prayer can afford. That a fasting prayer can afford.

Sacred Words

A brief story about dear Sister Bowen: Some years ago in a ward meeting I offered a somewhat lengthy list of power words, power principles, those doctrines and special words from the scriptures and from our Savior, and yes from Joseph Smith which bespeak the beauty and power of the Gospel and the Atonement. After the end of the meeting, Sister Bowen came up to me said, “You missed one.” I asked, “Which one?” (Of course, I had missed many, how could anyone give the definitive list.) Nevertheless, I did ask her. She simply responded, “Awake.” One might also add to this, another simple word, “Arise.”

When Jeffrey R. Holland was president of BYU, his wife, Patricia Holland offered this wise counsel with respect to the Book of Abraham’s recounting of the Garden of Eden, and the temple. We can think of this as we contemplate the impact of a consecrated prayer while fasting (and while delving deeply into the scriptures),

Quote: The Lord has not placed us in this lone and dreary world without a blueprint for living. In DC 52, we read the Lord’s words: “I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived.” (DC 52:14) … He has given us patterns in [all across sacred scripture]; and he has given us patterns in the temple ceremony. As we study these patterns, we must continually ask, “Why does the Lord choose to say these particular words and present it in just this way?” We know he uses metaphors and symbols and parables and allegories to teach us of his eternal ways. . . . // We need to [think and] search in this manner, and we need always to look for deeper meaning. We should look for parallels and symbols. We should look for themes and motifs such as those we would find in a Bach or a Mozart composition, and we should look for repeated patterns. … // These all seem to me to be symbols of higher principles and truths, symbols carefully chosen to show us the way…. // And, obviously, the temple is highly symbolic … Concerning the careful choice of words and symbols [there]…. I [listen] to every word. I [watch] for patterns and prototypes. … I believe [these words are] very carefully chosen words, [some] of those rich words—with meaning after meaning after meaning. … End quote.

FOOTNOTE 2

Why Wait

President Kimball, in his full powers and stature as our living prophet, spoke about the timing of the choice we make on when to choose:

Quote: “The time will come when there will be a surrender of every person who has ever lived on this earth, who is now living, or who ever will live on this earth; and it will be an unforced surrender, an unconditional surrender. When will it be for you? Today? In twenty years? Two hundred years? Two thousand or a million? When? Again, to you... I say, it is not if you will capitulate to the great truth; it is when, for I know that you cannot indefinitely resist the power and pressure of truth. Why not now?” End quote. (President Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Sept. 1978, p. 8)

FOOTNOTE 3

Joseph Smith described how enlightening it can be to receive inspiration, even revelation.

“We consider that God has created [us] with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer [we] approach perfection, the clearer are [our]views, and the greater [our]enjoyments, till [we have] overcome the evils of…life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where [we are] wrapped in the power and glory of [our] Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no [one]ever arrived in a moment: [we]must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until [our] mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the [the Celestial Kingdom].…” (Joseph Smith -- Letter to the Brethren, January 22, 1834. Teachings, Page 47)


“The Spirit of Revelation is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing . . . those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God -- and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Joseph Smith -- 27 June 1839; Teachings, Pg. 151, The Words of Joseph Smith, page 5-6)

FOOTNOTE 4

Sometimes because of a pressing need or desire, we devote ourselves to a special prayer. Perhaps we go outside, perhaps in our backyard, out of the way, and out of sight, to a personal private place. Perhaps it is to a secluded place in a forest clearing. We knee down and offer our hearts to God. Perhaps the need is so great we prepare by delving into the scriptures, either we want to research a certain topic which is related to our desire to reach out to God. Or, perhaps we simply seek to read and ponder about the Savior and His Atonement, as we prepare to make a special pleading.

FOOTNOTE 5

Reach Out

When we are touched by the spirit, we can more easily, and more naturally go the extra mile, or, as President Howard W. Hunter quoted one Christmas,

This year, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.

FOOTNOTE 6

In History

At important moments in our history presidents have often proclaimed a special Day of Thanksgiving. This goes all the way back to our Founding.

In times of war, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War II and others, presidents have also proclaimed special days of Fasting and Prayer. When our country was more attuned to these things, a Day of Fasting and Prayer offered us all a communal opportunity to come together as one. It still can. Fasting can help bring a country together, empower a church in faith, unite a family in love, and as individuals make whole our souls.

FOOTNOTE 7

President Kimball recited the following poem in one of the meetings at the dedication of the Washington DC Temple. Think of these sentiments as we envision the sacred walls of the private room we retreat to, to offer up a fasting prayer, or as is described in the Book of Mormon, “mighty prayer and fasting.”

Enter this door as if the floor within were gold;
And every wall of Jewels, all of wealth untold;
As if a Choir in robes of fire were singing here.
Nor shout, nor rush, but hush, for God is near.

FOOTNOTE 8

When Jesus read Isaiah he ended with the following words.

Listen now to what Jesus read at the end of that verse, and for how it describes the comfort received by those who mourn. And listen for how those who came to the rescue blessed those that stand in need: He said that they “give unto [those who sorrow] beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for [their] mourning, [and] the garment of praise [to cover their] spirit of heaviness….” This is how in fasting we can truly love our neighbor.

Now listen to how Isaiah describes what happens inside us, when we fast as he has chosen -- “8 Then shall [the] light [inside us] break forth as the morning, and [our] health [our spiritual health] shall spring forth speedily: . . . 9 [When we] call…the Lord shall answer; [when we] cry… he shall say [to us], ‘Here I am.' . . . then shall thy light rise…and [any] darkness [inside you shall become] as the noonday: 11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and…in drought…thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. . . . thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”

This is the fast He has chosen.

MISC. NOTE

Isaiah 61 – See temple imagery in Isaiah’s blessing, “that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”


# # # 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Veil Pierced

Small, sweet, soft and tender. Delicate, elegant, beautiful and growing. Grand and glorious, in time and eternity.

Her gentle voice sounds in our ears
Drawing us back to those timeless
Holier spheres.

She’s right here, resting right there
Next to my heart in sacred
Silent prayer.

Her finely-featured face, in temporal serenity,
Splendidly reveals her
Eternal identity.

Yes, I held her in my hands, gently;
And she held my full attention,
Intently.

Her very soul echoes through our whole being
Freeing us to real
Seeing.

Our yearning matching hers -- with us she shares
The secure promise that, together, we
Shall be Heirs.

~
By Scott Vanatter, July 7, 2012 (On the birth of Emma Lenore Kearns.)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

About eight years prior to the start of the Civil War (and about eight years after Joseph Smith ran for President of the United States with an anti-slavery plank included in his platform), Frederick Douglass, gave an important, prescient, insightful and – in the face of the horrors of slavery – hope-filled Fourth of July speech in Rochester, NY.

Please see below excerpts from the speech having to do with the meaning of the Founders and the Fourth of July, and the fact that the principles in the Founding Documents were antithetical to slavery.

Enjoy your Fourth of July celebration. [Emphasis and subheadings added my me.]

HOPE AND CONSOLATION THAT AMERICA IS YOUNG

[This] is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. . . . I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. . . . According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of childhood. I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence. . . . Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that America is young. Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and stately majesty, and inundate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the earth with their mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and fury, and bear away, on their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of years of toil and hardship. They, however, gradually flow back to the same old channel, and flow on as serenely as ever. But, while the river may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave nothing behind but the withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the abyss-sweeping wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with nations. . . .

SAVING PRINCIPLES

The 4th of July is the first great fact in your nation’s history . . . . The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost. . . . Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too—great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. . . . They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory. They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it ought to command respect. . . .

STATESMANSHIP BEYOND THE PASSING MOMENT, INTO THE DISTANT FUTURE

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was "settled" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final;" not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. . . . Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times. How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their movements! How unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. Mark them!

FOUNDING FATHERS LAY DEEP THE CORNER-STONE OF THE NATIONAL SUPERSTRUCTURE

Fully appreciating the hardship to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep the corner-stone of the national superstructure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you.

Of this fundamental work, this day is the anniversary. Our eyes are met with demonstrations of joyous enthusiasm. Banners and pennants wave exultingly on the breeze. The din of business, too, is hushed. Even Mammon seems to have quitted his grasp on this day. The ear-piercing fife and the stirring drum unite their accents with the ascending peal of a thousand church bells. Prayers are made, hymns are sung, and sermons are preached in honor of this day; while … a great and multitudinous nation, echoed back by all the hills, valleys and mountains of a vast continent, bespeak the occasion -- one of thrilling and universal interests . . . .

THE CONSTITUTION IS ENTIRELY HOSTILE TO THE EXISTENCE OF SLAVERY

Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which, the people of the North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed upon, as that of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but, interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gateway? or is it in the temple? It is neither. . . . Now, take the constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.

I DO NOT DESPAIR: THE DOOM OF SLAVERY IS CERTAIN

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work The downfall of slavery. "The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. . . .

(Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”)

#

See also below two observations by Joseph Smith on the Declaration of Independence and slavery.

“My cogitations…have for a long time troubled me, when I viewed the condition of men throughout the world, and more especially in this boasted realm, where the Declaration of Independence ‘holds these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;’ but at the same time some two or three millions of people are held as slaves for life, [only] because the spirit in them is covered with a darker skin than ours.” (History of the Church, Vol.6, Ch.8, p.197 - p.198)

In March 1842, Joseph studied some abolitionist literature, and stated, “It makes my blood boil within me to reflect upon the injustice, cruelty, and oppression of the rulers of the people. When will these things cease to be, and the Constitution and the laws again bear rule?” (History of the Church, 4:544).
#

There is a movement across the nation to read the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July this year. Here are pertinent parts for your use [again, emphasis added by me]:

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

A — Unanimous Declaration
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

 B — All men are Created Equal; Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness
 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

  C — Abolishing the Forms
  Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

   D — Their Right; Their Duty
   But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government,

    E — Future Security
    and to provide new Guards for their future security.

     F — Patient Sufferance
     Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. [List of Grievances]

A’ — Publish and Declare
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare.

 B’ — Free and Independent States
 That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown,

  C’ — Political Connection . . . Totally Dissolved
  and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved;

   D’ — Full Power; May of Right Do
   and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

    E’ — Protection of Divine Providence
    And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,

     F’ — Our Lives, Fortunes, Sacred Honor
     we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. [List of Names]

#

Summary outline
A — Unanimous Declaration
 B — All men are Created Equal; Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness

  C — Abolishing the Forms
   D — Their Right; Their Duty

    E — Future Security
     F — Patient Sufferance

A’ — Publish and Declare
 B’ — Free and Independent States

  C’ — Political Connection . . . Totally Dissolved
   D’ — Full Power; May of Right Do

    E’ — Protection of Divine Providence
     F’ — Our Lives, Fortunes, Sacred Honor

# # #

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Power Words for the Boys (end of school year 2011-12)

Passion (Cade’s blessing)
Focus (Christmas 2010)
Honor (Sean’s, Kyle’s birthday; Soldiers and Scouts)

~

T
hink, Tough, Toughness (Ryan’s birthday 2011)
H
abits, you can do Hard Things (Ryan's baptism 2011)
E
xcellence (Start of school, Sept 2011)

A
ttitude (Kansas/Thanksgiving, Nov 2011)
N
umbers (Kansas)
S
kills (Kansas)
W
ork, Work Hard, or Hard Work (Christmas 2011
)
E
nthusiasm (End of school year 2011-2012)
R
. . .

I
. . .
S
. . .

L
. . .
O
. . .
V
. . .
E
 . . .

(I've got a couple hundred more...)

Monday, May 21, 2012

In Place

In Place


By Scott L. Vanatter, May 21, 2012. A poem in commemoration of our youngest daughter’s birth and her current pregnancy. She is now progressed to about the same stage where Becky and Sydney survived a pretty bad car accident. (Me too. Carrie was with my Mom, as Becky and I went out to lunch.)

Becky was seven months pregnant with Sydney when we were involved in an automobile accident in 1979. Our Volvo was totaled. Half the glass in our car shattered into thousands of tiny pea-sized pieces. Becky's side of the car was destroyed. The moon roof popped off. Her head must have hit the side of the car, or the pavement, or both. She was in the Intensive Care Unit for a week. She didn’t move a muscle for the first six hours. She had a massive concussion, and a 4-inch crack in her skull, but she fully recovered -- and Sydney was unharmed. NOTE: After the paramedics stabilized her head, neck and back, they drove us ever so slowly to the nearest hospital, Queen of the Valley. Later that night she stirred. The next day she awoke. The next week she came home, healthy and happy. Below are some of my impressions then and now.

I.
What…
(Instantly)
What… is . . .
No.

Out of place.
Can’t really see. Shouldn’t be
There. To my right,
Movement.

II.
(Now)
In the corner
Of my eye I see Commotion
Where there should be
Stillness.
Why?

III.
Crush
Pushing left
(The next moment)
Sound filling the inner
Quiet with bare
Loudness.

IV.
Outside pressing in,
The Ground, our ceiling
Inside, pain without feeling
(The next impulse)
Revealing,
Yes…

It’s really happening.

A nightmare in place of the sight of my lovely wife.

V.
Rolling
(Slow motion)
Spinning
Turning
Falling

Never ending, then
Another kind of
Stillness.

Pieces
Hanging
Fluids, oils, gently dripping down
Wondering
Scrambling

Climbing out my door,
Upside down perfection.
My side, only one mar.

Running to her. Her door,
The imperfect confusion of a modern art.
Every thing is out of place.
Nothing in place.

Gently easing her body down onto the lining of the roof.
Softly resting on the hard exposed pavement.
She lays there across the hole in the roof.

Her eyes, closed.
Her face, blank and still.
Her body, absolute motionless.

(On a sudden)
Wild. Massive. Hard. Violent shaking.
A fountain of multicolor fluids, spreading up and out. And all over.
Seeming coming from everywhere.
It won’t stop. Inside
I scream, “No!”

How is this happening?
How is it even feasible?
With all the complexities and possibilities which exist in the world,
This cannot be happening
Now.

It won’t stop.

But.

Then . . .

It does.
Quick. Suddenly. Finally.
It stopped.

But, then once more a terrible silence and stillness.

Visions of decades of single parenthood of two girls
Flash before my mind’s eye.

Immediately the whole scene comes and then goes
As I imagine our second child surviving to grow old.

But a new, better vision opens…
I reach for the consecrated oil. I anoint. I bless.
She does not yet stir,
But I am at peace.

The crowd gathers.
A neighbor calls out. I ask her to call my Mother.
She does not know my mother, but she locates and communicates to her
What happened
To us.

Medics finally arrive,
Performing their precautions.
Stabilizing her and my heart.

Too slowly, without rush
They casually, slowly, silently drive to Queen of the Valley.
No one moves out of the way.
No path is cleared.
No siren.

Either,
She will be okay and
There is no need to speed.
Or, perhaps she is in deep trouble and
It is useless to rush.
They don’t say.

VI.
Doctors there now care
For her.

Family arrives, before we do,
Yearning, praying, and caring . . .
For her.

I walk, I focus
On her.

I pace, I ask
About her.

Without sitting, I’m listening.

After the eternity of six hours,
She finally stirs. Then, falls
Back into slumber.

We must now leave, and ourselves try to sleep.
Restless, sleepless dreaming.

After looking in on our first daughter,
I am only half able to fully calm
My troubled heart.


On the new day,
We awake to see
Her.

At Last,
She awakened to
Greet us.

In place of our worry
Is (now) the inner assurance of the small, graceful smile

On her face.


Six months of vibrant, slow-motion, rolling and repeated, nightly dreams
Are a small price to pay for the privilege of decades together here
In addition to being together eternities upon glorious eternities.

#

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On Destructive Doubt


On Destructive Doubt
Compared to Fruitful Faith
Scott L. Vanatter, October 1, 2006, August 29, 2007, October 10, 2007, May 15, 2012 

Of course, there is such a thing as faith run amok, as well as there is such a thing as a healthy skepticism. (“Trust, but verify.”) Still . . . 

I.
Faith creates clarity. 
     Doubt causes confusion. 

Faith enlightens. 
     Doubt darkens. 

Faith is light. 
     Doubt is dark. 

Faith feels. 
     Doubt numbs.

Faith joys. 
     Doubt fears feelings.

Faith is full. 
     Doubt is empty. 

Faith fills with beauty. 
     Doubt ends in ugliness.   
  
Faith Sings. 
     Doubt sorrows. 


II.
Faith is assurance; doubt, misgivings. 

Faith creates commitment; doubt, discord. 

Faith commits; doubt cannot. 

Faith fills us with promise; doubt sets limits. 

Faith opens new Opportunities and beautiful Vistas. 
     Doubt closes doors. 


III.
Faith is action. 
     Doubt is delay, hesitation, wait, pause, ‘not now’, later.

Faith is believing. 
     Doubt is skeptical. 

Faith creates confidence. 
     Doubt facilitates frustration. 

Faith creates conviction; doubt, disbelief. 

Faith creates courage. 
     Doubt is a nagging fear. 

Faith is Do. 
     Doubt is Don’t. 

Faith is dynamic. 
     Doubt is static.

Faith engenders a lively encouragement; doubt, a dulling discouragement. 

Faith moves forward. 
     Doubt is bogged down. 

Faith is freedom. 
     Doubt enslaves. 

Faith urges onward. 
     Doubt causes reservations. 

Faith creates a cautious optimism; doubt, a sure failure. 

Faith is positive. 
     Doubt is negative. 

Faith sacrifices. 
     Doubt clings. 

Faith Overcomes. 
     Doubt succumbs. 


IV.
Faith is the power to act. 
     Doubt is paralysis. 

Faith builds up. 
     Doubt tears down. 

Faith builds respect; doubt, disrespect. 

Faith encourages appropriate respect for proper authority. 
     Doubt ends in anarchy. 

Faith is power. 
     Doubt is weakness. 

Faith is service. 
     Doubt is selfish. 

Faith is strength. 
     Doubt is feebleness. 

Faith is trust. 
     Doubt is suspicion. 

Faith is truth; doubt, lies. 

Faith is Dedication, Devotion, Loyalty.  
     Doubt is lonely. 


V.
Faith is focused. 
     Doubt is vague. 

Faith frees. 
     Doubt nags. 

Faith creates hope; doubt, cynicism. 

Faith is filled with Hope. 
     Doubt haunts over us. 

Faith is inquisitive. 
     Doubt never settles. 

Faith includes a healthy skepticism, and a searching inquisitiveness. 
     Doubt says there can be no answers.

Faith is a steady, dependable Perseverance. 
     Doubt is cut and run (in times of trouble). 

Faith queries, questions, seeks answers, and wisdom; doubt has qualms about everything. 

Faith releases. 
     Doubt constrains. 

Faith sharpens. 
     Doubt dulls. 

Faith Preserves the best. 
     Doubt destroys hope. 


VI.
Faith connects. 
     Doubt separates. 

Faith is connection. 
     Doubt is separation.

Faith is God-centered. 
     Doubt is man-oriented. 

Faith is Heaven-sent. 
     Doubt is earth-bound. 

Faith is Holy. 
     Doubt is base, regular.

Faith is Now. 
     Doubt is never. 

Faith is unifying; doubt, dividing. 

Faith is Union. 
     Doubt is division. 

Faith is Unison and Harmony. 
     Doubt is divisive. 

Faith is Unity. 
     Doubt is cacophony. 

Faith is Everything. 
     Doubt is nothing. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


As Always
(Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Friend and Genealogist)

Every word she speaks

Every time we meet . . .

No wonder we seek

Acceptance, received
As always so freely
And consistently
    Offered

No trouble, no matter our grieving

There's no end to her reaching
    Our souls

Never doubting, we believe

Nothing wavering, we cleave
    Unto her, naturally

This is no Dream, but Real . . .

And we see
    Her Eternally

By Scott L. Vanatter, poem written Feb. 25, 2012 for
my Mother's 78th birthday.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

More Power Words, Power Principles for the Boys

Passion -- Cade’s blessing
Focus -- Christmas 2010
Honor -- Sean’s, Kyle’s birthday (Soldiers and Scouts)
~
T
hink, Tough(ness) -- Ryan’s birthday 2011
H
abits, you can do Hard Things -- Ryan's baptism 2011
E
xcellence -- Start of school, Sept 2011
A
ttitude -- Kansas/Thanksgiving, Nov 2011
N
umbers -- Kansas
S
kills – Kansas
W
ork, Work Hard, or Hard Work -- Christmas 2011

E
. . .
R
. . .

I
. . .
S
. . .

L
. . .
O
. . .
V
. . .
E
 . . .

(I've got a couple hundred more...)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Eulogy for “Grandma Lee”

Lola Lenore (Bull) Allen, 1928–2011Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at Union City, CA

Opening
"The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out." (Joseph Smith)

Lola Lenore Allen – Grandma Lee to most of us – has experienced over time the joyous heights of what life here on earth can offer; also, she has suffered (patiently) the painful depths of some of life’s most difficult trials. The nature of her experience -- and especially her response -- has seared into her very soul the most important of life’s key lessons.

Of all women who bore their suffering well, Grandma Lee stands out as one of life’s preeminent, exemplar queens.

Thanks
On behalf of her daughter (my wife Becky), her sons Fred and Craig, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and her entire family on this and the other side of the veil – and especially Lenore’s lone surviving sibling, her sister Jolinda Resa -- I express heartfelt thanks and love to everyone here; to and from all of us here, and those who could not make it. Care, concern, and a spirit of loving forgiveness seems to permeate the air and penetrate our hearts.

Remember
We remember and honor Lola Lenore (Bull) Allen. As a child her family grew up calling her Lenore. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren grew up calling her Grandma Lee. But, Fred, Becky and Craig grew up calling her mother. Mom: the sweetest name under heaven; and for good reason. Abraham Lincoln attributed all that he was to his loving Angel Mother. George Washington stood and acted in awe of his strong, powerful mother.

Fred, Becky, and Craig’s mother embodied the best of these and other important character traits of all the great women in history; especially the tough, strong, steady traits of the sturdy pioneer women of her own ancestors. Together as one, her combined strength and love are the most beautiful things a child can see, and a true friend can appreciate.

Preview
In the face of adversity, she was firm and dependable. She did not break. In the hard times, she was the one they all, the one we all, looked to. She was the rock.

Life
Lenore was born in 1928, and grew up in 1930s during the depths of the depression in Arizona and in Southern California. She went to a one-room schoolhouse across the street from the family ranch for first through third grades. Jolinda remembers sitting on the floor of their parents’ bedroom, looking at their mother's trunk, handling the bone buttons, a vial of jewels, and their father’s gas mask from World War I.

Lenore and her younger sisters used to put on plays for the kids in the neighborhood. When she was 10 or 11 years old she was sent to her Uncle Walt and Aunt Bessie's ranch in Arizona all by herself to work full-time as a nanny and care-giver for her brand new cousin Kaye.

During the war years of the 1940s her mother went to work at Lockheed building P-38s 10 hours a day, six days a week. So Lenore had to take over raising her three younger sisters. Her sisters depended on her in so many ways, for their daily care; for comfort when their father, who suffered through the horrors of trench warfare in France during WW I dealt poorly with the struggles of the depression and the misfortune of bad business partners. When her sisters got older, Lenore went to work as a teen at Montgomery Wards.

During the war years after they moved back to Arizona for a six months’ stay, Lenore was the bell of the ball her sophomore year in high school going to all the school dances. Growing up and during the war, the church was very important to them. Lenore was called to be one of the dance instructors at church. Lenore both danced and taught the tango, the samba, the rumba, and led the conga line. Since Monday, since Lenore has been freed from an atrophied body, Jo says she imagines Lenore finally being able to dance again. Jo relates that she and Lenore served in the Drum and Bugle corps, where Lenore played the bugle all over Southern California, marching in parades, performing in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, the Pantages Theatre, the Shrine Auditorium, and Pershing Square. (They rubbed shoulders with movie stars such as Loretta Young, Robert Taylor and Bob Hope.) This was a welcome escape from the shared sacrifice of the war years. They also remember the searchlights, the sirens, the air wardens, the war bond rallies, and the booming cannon practicing on the Air Force bases on the coast.

After the war, she graduated in 1948 from Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, California. Later she married and began raising her three children in Duarte during the 1950s, working alongside her husband in a bookkeeping business in El Monte, California.

In the 1960s, left alone as a single mother, she dug deep, worked long and hard, and did her very best for her three children. She gave love when that was all she had to give.

She was devoted to her own mother, who moved back to Arizona. Lenore would drive her three kids across the hot desert with a wet towel draped across the back of her neck. As her kids went outside to watch and work with grandpa and the horses, Lenore stayed inside and spent time with her beloved mother.

Ultimately, Lenore prevailed and bought a house on her own in Rowland Heights, California. A favorite pastime for Lenore and Jolinda was to get together to sew dresses for their daughters. Lenore had a keen mind and could visualize and conceptualize dresses for which she could rework and devise her own patterns. Lenore used to enjoy taking her kids to Oak Glenn in the autumn for mini-family reunions – a tradition she re-instituted as a grandmother years later. A particular favorite escape at these times was an annual week at Laguna Beach.

At NCR she found and married in the early 1970s, the love of her life, Rol Allen. After they married, she moved to Whittier, California, and continued to improve her skills, grew in her profession and secured a good job as Comptroller, handling millions of dollars as she managed the finances of two manufacturing companies in Southern California.

I was so very fortunate to have Lee and Rol as my in-laws. The day I married Becky, they sat us down and gave us one specific, pointed piece of advice. “Be friends. With ALL that marriage is and all that it provides a young-and-in-love couple: Be friends. Be best friends.” They continued, that, in addition to all the other roles we would have and enjoy, being true friends would see us through any hard times, and in the end, when there would be an empty nest, we would have our ‘best friend’ there to live out the rest of our lives together. We took that advice and now enjoy the benefits from following their advice and their example.

On more than one occasion, Lenore and I had frank conversations, where she offered wise advice, not so much correcting any specific thing, but offering good, general principles and perspective. She surely COULD have given me very specific advice to help correct this or that issue which I needed to address, but it was the wise overarching principles she shared – about life in general, about work and finances, and about serving in the church. I have tried to follow, and see now, if I didn’t then, the wisdom of her advice and her example in these things.

Not long after marrying Rol, they took in his aging mother – who was in her early 80s. Basically, Lenore both worked full-time long hours in finance, AND took care of Rol’s mother Grace, till Grace was about to turn 100. This she did without complaint and without many verbal thanks from Grace – who otherwise was quite delightful.

Lenore was in her prime in the 1980s, bringing us all together for family get-togethers at their beautiful home in Whittier, especially memorable were her Christmas Eve dinners.

Finally, during the capstone of her life, the 1990s, Lee and Rol enjoyed a good measure of the peace and contentment that she so richly deserved. They enjoyed focusing on their grandchildren and taking some time off, to tour the East Coast, cruise the Great Northwest and Alaska, and travel to Hawaii with Lee’s sister Jolinda. After Rol’s mother Grace passed away at age 102, Grandma Lee planned and moved them to a brand new house in Las Vegas, Nevada. This offered them a handful of golden years.

Lee and Rol were totally devoted to one another. Everyone could see this. Over the years they took turns caring for the other, when some type of illness befell one of them. A few years after they moved to Las Vegas, Grandma Lee’s memory began to be negatively impacted because of a stroke. Still they had some great and satisfying years there. In 2002, they moved here to this wonderful Masonic Home in Union City, California. After only a few years here, Rol passed away in 2005.

Dignity, Last Days, Hours, Minutes
The past ten years were more and more difficult for Lenore. She lost ability to talk, then to walk. She was dignified, elegant, classy and beautiful all through her life, and especially at the end. She did not complain about the poor hand she was dealt. She went to work, caring for her loved ones, till, literally, she wore out.

No matter the circumstance, no matter the difficulty, no matter the trial or the pain or the illness, Lenore Allen was still a strong Bull woman.

Description
Not just strong, but beautiful -- in so many ways. Her lovely, gentle face, her beautiful hair, her rock-solid dependability, her excellent example of long and hard work, her devotion to us all, her generous and forgiving and loving heart; her whole life.

Pioneering
Yes, Grandma Lee was strong. She was respectful of her ancestors, especially the women pioneer ancestors. In her own time, she was one of those post-war single women who found themselves alone (not by choice), who had to pick themselves up and care for a young family. She was a single woman who pioneered making her own way in the cold hard world of business. And she ultimately succeeded.

Her own pioneer grandmother wrote these words, and boys, this is also from your OWN great, great, great grandmother:

"Yes, I’ve pioneered in Arizona, but my mother was a pioneer before me – she came from Illinois to Utah with the first handcart company, and my husband’s father, James Craig, was a bugler for the pioneers of 1847 and crossed the Plains into Salt Lake City with Brigham Young… Yes, I suppose you’d say that pioneering in those early years was hard, but we were all trying to develop the country and build a better nation. No one was trying to destroy it or tear it down. Everybody worked together and tried to follow the teaching of one of the Apostles who said, ‘Stick to the good and work for the right.’

"Of course we worked hard, but hard work is good for the souls of men. Hard work kept our children out of mischief and kept men from getting into trouble. If I had my life to live over, I believe I’d take the hardships of our times rather than the problems of today. We built the nation. A lot of people now are trying to tear it apart. No matter how hard, it is easier to build a country than to keep the enemies from destroying it afterwards.

"There’s a tremendous job of pioneering for our young people today—pioneering in a wilderness of unrest, selfishness, intolerance, greed, and dishonor. True courses must be charted through this wilderness just as we broke trails through nature’s wilderness sixty-nine years ago."

Purpose of Our Extremities
A survivor of one of the worst handcart tragedies wrote on the value of their suffering. Please hear these words as though they were from Grandma Lee speaking from the spirit world about her suffering, and our own:

"Every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities! I have [pushed on] when I was so weak and weary from illness . . . that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and . . . have said, I can go only [so] far and there I must give up for I cannot pull the load [alone]. I have gone to that [point] and when I reached it, [I felt I was being carried along]! I have looked…many times to see who was [supporting me], but my physical eyes saw no one. I knew then that the Angels of God were there. . . . The price we paid [in our sufferings] to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay…."

*


Never Give Up
I can hear Lenore say, with Joseph Smith: “Never be discouraged. If I were sunk in the lowest pits of Nova Scotia, with the Rocky Mountains piled on me, I would hang on, exercise faith, and keep up good courage, and I would come out on top.”

Angels
A keen observation from an apostle of the Lord, “Now, this is the truth. We humble people, we who feel ourselves sometimes so worthless, so good-for-nothing; we are not so worthless as we think. There is not one of us but what God's love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. // We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God and that He has actually given His angels ­­ invisible beings of power and might ­­ charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.” (George Q. Cannon -- Gospel Truth 1:2)

We can consider that Grandma Lee is now one of those angels. Joseph Smith said of “the spirits of [our departed loved ones]” that “they are not far from us, and [that they] know and understand our thoughts, [and] feelings….”

President Spencer W. Kimball wrote (Ensign, May 1978) “When we sing that doctrinal hymn and anthem of affection, ‘O My Father’ (taken from a poem by Eliza R. Snow originally titled, “Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother), we get a sense of the ultimate in maternal modesty, of the restrained, queenly elegance of our Heavenly Mother, and knowing how profoundly our mortal mothers have shaped us here, do we suppose her influence on us as individuals to be less…?”

So, I can see Grandma Lee on the other side of the veil, with her mother, singing with the angels, guarding and guiding us back home through the trials which will come our way. She will not be able to prevent trials from coming our way. But she will be there to comfort and guide us through them. She wants us to hold firm, she wants us to be tough, wants us to never give up.

Yes, we shed tears of sadness that she was in pain, and now is gone -- but we also shed tears of joy, recognizing the greatness of her soul; thankful for her influence for many years in the past and for so many years to come. We remember her, and honor her.

Conclusion
In conclusion, Jesus offers us consolation in a sometimes hard and unforgiving world.

"I say unto you, That ye shall weep… and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. . . . These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:12, 20, 33)

Lee has now overcome this world and has passed into a better. Joseph Smith taught that, All our loses will be made up to us in the resurrection, with Christ. In fact, these very loses themselves will make our ultimate triumph with Jesus that much more sweet.

I pray we remember Grandma Lee with honor and with fondness and with love . . . in the precious name of our Exemplar and our Friend, even Jesus the Christ, Amen.

# # #

*Written but not delivered as part of eulogy.

Purpose of Life
The following paragraphs are from the seminal movie, Man’s Search for Happiness, prepared by the church for the 1960 World’s Fair in New York City. (By the way, Lenore’s mother and father attended this fair.) I have inserted Lenore into the text of the movie’s point of view. Please also put yourself in Lenore’s shoes as I share these this.

"Lenore entered mortality to further prepare for the everlastingness of life after death. Her mortal body, in which her spirit dwelt, was subject to pain, to difficulties, even to death. For it is only in opposition that she could grow in strength of character. She had to know pain to appreciate well-being; difficulties to develop courage; death to understand eternal life. . . .

"After death, though her mortal body will lie in the earth, she, her spirit self—being eternal—continues to live. . . . Like coming out of a darkened room into light—through death she will emerge in a place of reawakening—and find loved ones there waiting to welcome her. There with her loved ones, she will await the resurrection—which is the reuniting of her spirit and her body. There she will continue towards the limitless opportunities of everlasting life.

"As a daughter of God, is it any wonder that she is an eternal part of His plan and purpose; and coming from such a noble heritage, that she has possibilities far beyond our greatest dreams. Be assured that her life had real purpose. Be assured that her life was worth living (and that our life is worth living).

"This Jesus has promised her and you, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.’

“Be assured that she was here, not by accident or chance; but as part of a glorious everlasting plan.”

Destiny
“…to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize…her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. . . ."