Monday, December 29, 2014

Atonement and Resurrection




Our friend Leonard Tripp died on Dec. 21, and his funeral was held on Dec. 27. Jeff was one of the speakers at the funeral, talking about Christ's atonement and resurrection. He gave the best "speech" or "sermon" I've ever heard, anywhere, on any subject: Here are his notes:
 
Leonard was my home teacher, and he was faithful as a clock. He never missed.
 
We were both mathematically inclined; among other things, we once talked about the math of the Laws of Physics:
*            Conservation of Energy (kinetic <-> potential)
*            The Equivalence of Mass and Energy (E=mc2)
*            Conservation of Momentum
*            The Second Law of Thermodynamics

A short way of stating these common physical principles without the math is:
*            Everything must balance.
*            Symmetry must hold.
*            There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.
*            You must pay for everything - or SOMEONE must.

I talked with the Primary kids earlier in the month and asked them if they could repair a broken egg? One young genius – another mathematician or engineer in our midst – argued that maybe parts of the shell could be restored (perhaps) but once broken, the Second Law of Thermodynamics takes over. It’s the Humpty-Dumpty Law. It takes substantial ENERGY to put things back in order, together again.

TACITLY: SOME things - perhaps MOST things - you CAN’T ever pay for.

Leonard and I once talked about Father in Heaven being the Great Physicist. After all, HE created this universe of ours - with all the laws that govern it. HE knew how those laws worked. He DESIGNED them. And the result is a universe of balance, and surpassing beauty. FiH wanted a Garden for ALL His children.

As Sister Harker pointed out, Father laid out the Plan of Salvation. But he also knew we His children were still growing, and would have a rough time if they were to make it back to Him, and be amplified in the Earth Experience process to BECOME like Him. And Father wanted us to have joy in doing it. He knew there would be failures – many things that would have to be balanced. Paid for. He loved us more than we can currently comprehend, and He set out that Plan.

The balancing part is called the Atonement.

How do you pay for - balance out - the sins of 100 billion human beings? By having SOMEONE - Someone who was CAPABLE OF DOING SO - pay steep price. 100 billion humans living an average of 30 years ~= 1011 human beings times ~10,000 days times X sins per day. I’m thinking this through like Leonard would. This comes to 1*1015 human days.

Well, I have been going through this math exercise to give everyone an idea that the Atonement meant a LOT of PAYING. A LOT of REPAIRING.

Probably none of us in this life will ever really understand the Atonement, what the Christ agreed to undergo to save US. The New Testament record makes it clear that He had a deep foreboding of what would be exacted of Him. The scriptural record even says that he flinched and asked that The Cup be taken away – but went through with the Atonement anyway. I once got a tiny, millisecond glimpse of the shock and horror that slammed into our Savior in the dark, abandoned by friends, in that garden across the Kidron Valley.

WHY DID HE DO THIS? For the same reason you would donate a kidney to a sister, sacrifice your life for that of your child: because He LOVED us. That’s why he called us FRIENDS. Brothers and Sisters. We are part of His Family.

SO... WHAT WAS TO WHAT END? WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?

The Two Great Gifts:

1. Immortality.

2. Eternal Life.

These are NOT the same thing.

The First Great Gift is Immortality. Immortality means to be resurrected as living beings - beings of great power, judging by examples like Moroni - with all our memories and DNA (says Russell M. Nelson) intact.

For some of us, those memories may NOT be our friends.

As a former atheist and new convert to this Church, I learned that Jesus Christ lived - and moreover He knew who I was. I gained a testimony that the Book of Mormon was exactly what it claimed to be (pretty astounding), and that Christ had visited the New World. There’s some of that symmetry and balance for you again.

But I DIDN’T initially comprehend that the Resurrection was for ME, that it applied to ME. With time I slowly learned about actual resurrections that have already taken place, and that they don’t happen with a snap of the fingers, but take a certain measured amount of time to bring about. They are incredibly joyous events, wonderful beyond human words.

Restoring bodily decay requires ENERGY – PAYMENT. And… it’s already in place – which is why no resurrections COULD take place before the Atonement happened 2000 years ago. Resurrection apparently happens far faster than the time needed to carry, give birth, and rear a child to adulthood (which takes a lot of energy!). I don’t have time here to provide you the details, but you can sure get some pretty potent hints of those details in Ezekiel 37 and in the Book of Job.

But that isn’t IT. That isn’t EVERYTHING.

Father in Heaven so loved his Children that He gave his own SON to buy not ONE, but TWO Great Gifts for them.

The Second Great Gift is Eternal Lives - that’s how it’s worded in the Temple, and how Russell M Nelson words it in an astounding 1992 talk titled “The Doors of Death.”  It is not worded that way by accident. The plural form hints at things far greater than just returning to God’s Presence, which by itself would mean living permanently in His Light, permanently suffused with such joy, that the scriptures constantly refer to angels singing praises of joy and gratitude.

Leonard was a very unusual person. He was one of the truly Great Ones. I cherish my memories of him.

I CHERISH the clear and full understanding that he and I will have time together again in the near future, talking and reminiscing. I am sure that we will be talking about the mathematics and physics of Dark Matter and Dark Energy together... which should probably really be named Bright Matter and Bright Energy, because they figure in our future.

It won’t be that long, my friend, till I’ll be seeing you again, with the joyous name on my lips of my Savior and Brother Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Lisa: Raising Wirambi Dorina

This is Lisa! I'm sorry I'll miss holding and loving this little creature, but so proud of Lisa for being part of this rescue effort!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Pope's Homily on Christmas Eve






"Through the course of history, the light that shatters the darkness reveals to us that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption. This is the message of Christmas night."

"The 'sign' is the humility of God taken to the extreme; it is the love with which, that night, he assumed our frailty, our suffering, our anxieties, our desires and our limitations."

"On this holy night, while we contemplate the Infant Jesus just born and placed in the manger, we are invited to reflect. How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? "But I am searching for the Lord" - we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant's presence is: do I allow God to love me?"

"More so, do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us, or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today!"

"The Christian response cannot be different from God's response to our smallness. Life must be met with goodness, with meekness."

Well, now I guess I've quoted most of the whole thing. But I'm still leaving it below in case anyone wants to read it all in one piece.

The Vatican's official English-language translation of Pope Francis' prepared homily, to be delivered in Italian, during Christmas Eve Mass on Wednesday in St. Peter's Basilica. Spelling and style are the Vatican's.
___
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined" (Is 9:1). "An angel of the Lord appeared to (the shepherds) and the glory of the Lord shone around them" (Lk 2:9). This is how the liturgy of this holy Christmas night presents to us the birth of the Saviour: as the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness. The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery, and ushers in joy and happiness.

We, too, in this blessed night, have come to the house of God. We have passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame of faith which illuminates our steps, and enlivened by the hope of finding the "great light". By opening our hearts, we also can contemplate the miracle of that child-sun who, arising from on high, illuminates the horizon.

The origin of the darkness which envelops the world is lost in the night of the ages. Let us think back to that dark moment when the first crime of humanity was committed, when the hand of Cain, blinded by envy, killed his brother Abel (cf. Gen 4:8). As a result, the unfolding of the centuries has been marked by violence, wars, hatred and oppression.

But God, who placed a sense of expectation within man made in his image and likeness, was waiting. He waited for so long that perhaps at a certain point it seemed he should have given up. But he could not give up because he could not deny himself (cf. 2 Tim 2:13). Therefore he continued to wait patiently in the face of the corruption of man and peoples.

Through the course of history, the light that shatters the darkness reveals to us that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption. This is the message of Christmas night. God does not know outbursts of anger or impatience; he is always there, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, waiting to catch from afar a glimpse of the lost son as he returns.
Isaiah's prophecy announces the rising of a great light which breaks through the night. This light is born in Bethlehem and is welcomed by the loving arms of Mary, by the love of Joseph, by the wonder of the shepherds. When the angels announced the birth of the Redeemer to the shepherds, they did so with these words: "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Lk 2:12).

The "sign" is the humility of God taken to the extreme; it is the love with which, that night, he assumed our frailty, our suffering, our anxieties, our desires and our limitations. The message that everyone was expecting, that everyone was searching for in the depths of their souls, was none other than the tenderness of God: God who looks upon us with eyes full of love, who accepts our poverty, God who is in love with our smallness.

On this holy night, while we contemplate the Infant Jesus just born and placed in the manger, we are invited to reflect. How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? "But I am searching for the Lord" - we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant's presence is: do I allow God to love me?

More so, do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us, or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today!

The Christian response cannot be different from God's response to our smallness. Life must be met with goodness, with meekness. When we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him, and beseech him: "Lord, help me to be like you, give me the grace of tenderness in the most difficult circumstances of life, give me the grace of closeness in the face of every need, of meekness in every conflict".

Dear brothers and sisters, on this holy night we contemplate the Nativity scene: there "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Is 9:1). People who were unassuming, open to receiving the gift of God, were the ones who saw this light. This light was not seen, however, by the arrogant, the proud, by those who made laws according to their own personal measures, who were closed off to others. Let us look to the crib and pray, asking the Blessed Mother: "O Mary, show us Jesus!'"

The Christmas Story


Monday, December 22, 2014

Hallelujah

A Christmas version of the Leonard Cohen poem/song:


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Santa Never Brings Me a Banjo

(Thanks to Michael Vallee for posting this on Facebook!)

(I'm posting it here because ... guess what! .... I'm going to start taking banjo lessons next month! And Santa doesn't need to bring me a banjo, because Jason is letting me use his!)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Soanka Family

I posted this photo on my training blog, but had to post it here, too, because it's so cute.

They're all wearing their Team Sandra shirts! Yay! Go Team Sandra!

Derek has been my personal trainer and coach for almost two years now, and little Olivia will be two years old this month. Christie is also a personal trainer and fitness teacher. She teaches spin, water aerobics, and other classes --- I don't even know how many she's teaching now, but I know she's qualified to teach yoga and Pilates, too. They're expecting their second baby any minute now, and Christie is still training people and teaching classes. Amazing!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Misogyny in Poetry and Poets

Yeah, huge topic, I know, which I don't have a huge amount to say about. Just this: I'm sick of reading poems and listening to people ("men") read poems in which they denigrate women: their mother, their girlfriend or wife, famous women, or all women in general --- you know, just because they're women.

A couple of weeks ago I sat in a poetry class and listened to some guy read a poem in which he reduced all the famous feminists and female writers he had heard about (I guess---obviously he didn't include the famous women he hadn't heard of:) to their sex organs and .... No, I won't do him the honor of writing more about what he had written.

He introduced his poem by saying, "I hope this doesn't offend anyone here," his way of saying, I believe, "I'm pretty sure this is going to offend all three of the women who are here, and possibly the other two men, if they're the feminists they like to think they are."

And then he .... No, I'm not going to write those foul and vulgar words he used.

So, yeah, I was offended, seriously offended. The teacher (a "man"), who prides himself on being LGBT friendly, did not say anything in the way of reprimand. We three women responded the way we have been so carefully taught to respond: We laughed nervously and made a few comments, including a couple on how the poet might make this poem "a little less offensive." And maybe the other two weren't as offended as I was. But I was seriously offended and seriously upset with myself, too, for giving into that social pressure to laugh and to pretend not to be offended.

I wrote an email message to the teacher yesterday, when I had corralled my anger a little bit, suggesting that he might want to consider making himself and his classes woman friendly as well as LGBT friendly.

Another incident: A few days ago, I read a poem in another poetry class which everyone in the class, including the teacher, thought meant something other than what I'd intended.

Which is fine, right? Absolutely! That's one of the great things poetry can do, is suggest to other people's minds whatever they want or need to hear or read into the poem.

When the teacher asked what I had intended in the poem, I explained that I had written it as a feminist poem: the persona speaking in the poem was recounting how she had lost her own self as she tried to please some guy.

(Yeah, I'm saying "some guy" again. Deal with it.)

The teacher (a "man," need I say?) went on for the next 10 minutes about how he has also been in relationships where he subsumed his own needs for the desires of the other person, and he regretted that, and it's not only women who can be misused and mistreated and abused because it can happen to "men," too.

He very helpfully told me how I might make this poem more "accessible" for "men," for "men" who, like him, are feminists, or who at least want to think of themselves as feminists, though they would never say so unless the women in their lives agreed that they were feminists, and blah blah blah and blah blah blah ... and blah blah blah ...  and blah blah blah. Ten minutes' worth. Because it's apparently clear to him that what I and other women need is help in figuring out how to make our poetry, our ideas, and our selves, more "accessible" to "men."

I nodded and smiled and thought, What the heck am I doing here?

I've got so much more to say about this, but I'm going to get rid of some of this anger and frustration before I come back to it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanksgiving

Aishah, showing the ageless joy of just plain swinging on the swing-set


We had a quiet, fun, filling,  and overall just plain great Thanksgiving.

Aishah and Jared came up with Castle and Dublin.
Jared with Castle


Because of Dad's allergies, they even found a wonderful dog-sitter where the dogs could stay for most of the time.
Castle went first, then encouraged Dublin







But we did have fun with them on the day after Thanksgiving, at Frenchman's Bar,  where they braved the kiddie slide and ate some turkey leftovers and chased around
Well behaved!
Dublin was always on the lookout for small critters


Halloween Visit

A few more photos from those fun days in the last week of October:

Walking on the trail near our house one morning, we kept finding foil-covered chocolate "coins." The children would run ahead to find them, and I would throw them on the path so they could see them. They marveled at how, sometimes, the money would just fall down from the sky.




Then we saw a small private plane flying overhead, and they figured someone in the plane was throwing the coins down for us to find. 



We ate some of the candies as we went along and also stopped for a little picnic with chocolate milk. 

We had fun that evening at the park by the lake.













I'm not posting the trick-or-treat photos because they all show us shivering and dripping water off our jackets and umbrellas because of the cold rain. We had fun, though, and it didn't hurt to cut the evening short, and we ended up with PLENTY of candy!




Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lightening at Camas Second Story Gallery

Here's the exhibit. All photos that are for sale are marked down to half price.


All the photos will stay up through Nov. 29.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Four Awesome Sisters

Three of them were at my gallery opening on Friday, Ellen, Laura, and Neva, here in the order that I took the photos, and with apologies for how out of focus Ellen's and Laura's are. (I'll post some slightly better photos of them soon. Also, maybe they'd like to send me some better photos that they'd like to see here instead of these ones?)
















Sandra couldn't be there in person, but this poem, which I wrote for her earlier this year, was on the wall:



 For Sandra

The prisoner is free at last.
Battered down by storms and waves,
She never stopped her swim to shore.
And when she hauled
Her soul from the seething surf
Of life on Earth,
She didn’t crawl.
She didn’t walk.
She flew
With the angels
To their bright home.