Tuesday, September 29, 2009
My husband is still recovering from the total replacement of his left knee, and already, less than four weeks out, we can see years of pain and limitations begin to peel away. This surgery is a blessing.
But it is also a challenging recovery. The meds today can address the pain, but the patient needs to do the rehab, or the surgery will gain them little. The therapy, the work required to return your range of motion, and to unlearn old habits created by babying the bad knee--limping, walking crooked or bent legged, climbing stairs at odd angles. You nay not even realize the extent of the modifications you made, but in our case, my husband's back is straighter, he regained an inch of his previously-stooped height, his back pain has already decreased and his other knee--the one scheduled for a December surgery, is nearly pain-free because it is no longer bearing the majority of the work and weight. This is not unusual.
We know we had an outstanding surgeon. He had saved two of our sons whose legs had extensive trauma--one from disease and one from a devastating car accident. We knew going in that Tom was in excellent hands. And having seen many other knee replacement patients at the hospital, and now in therapy, we know all surgeons and surgeries are not equal. We've learned a lot, and we're sharing advice with patients considering this procedure.
1) Get referrals on surgeons. Even ask to see some photos of knees your prospective surgeon has done. Tom's scar is very narrow, straight and only a quarter of an inch deep. In some places it is nearly invisible. This is important not only for appearance. A neat, straight, thin scar means less scar tissue, and that will translate into easier therapy, less pain, quicker return of range of motion.
2) Make sure the hospital has a great orthopedic reputation. Post-op nursing care and in-house therapy is critical. Tom had his surgery at a small, community hospital but their reputation for ortho was excellent and his care proved it. The nurses and therapists were patient, caring, positive and skilled. His comfort was paramount, and they moved, shifted, medicated, cheered and challenged him to move--all with personal kindness. As a result, he worked hard, left the hospital leaps ahead of the curve, and maintained a great attitude--two critical components of this rehab.
3) Attend the pre-op surgery classes. If your hospital doesn't have them, ask for some pre-op consultation.
4) Get a pre-op home evaluation-This is the main thing I want to address and the one area that left us feeling completely unprepared. Some of these issues may seem indelicate, but the personal issues are the ones that create the greatest anxiety back at home if the patient can't be independent, so prepare, prepare, prepare.
5) First, what vehicle will you bring the patient home in? His or her leg will only be able to bend slightly, and they will be fearful of any bump. If they're an average-sized person, they should be able to slide into the back seat. But if their mobility is limited, or if they are tall or large, be sure you have a vehicle that will accommodate their total seated length.
6) Check your doorways. What size walker will the patient need? Will it fit through the doorways? Tom's wouldn't, and from the first minute, we had new stress and the fear of pain while struggling to get him through the hall, bedroom and bathroom doors.
7) The toilet trauma-Your patient will have a difficult time rising from a seated position. There are toilet risers that add a few inches to the seat, making rising more comfortable, but the construction of this riser leaves little space for attending to personal hygiene, and that will be a huge concern to your patient. We actually had dear friends who installed a handicapped or tall toilet with an elongated bowl. The rise took pressure off his knees when he sat and when he rose, the elongated bowl allowed him complete independence, and handicapped hand-holds were also installed on the wall opposite the toilet giving him him stability.
8) Have a comfortable, firm, high-backed chair with a tall seat and an ottoman. Again, rising is a painful effort in a low chair with a soft seat, and the leg needs to be elevated.
9) Have a good bed at the ready, because when your patient isn't in his chair, he will be in this bed. The mattress needs to be comfortable, and if you can get a bed that elevates, that will be a blessing. It will make transfers in and out easier and will provide some variety in positioning him since he'll be in here most of the day for the first two weeks.
10) Get the right tools--a sock putter-on-er,( ask the nurses), a grabber to reach for little things, a leg-mover, (again, ask your nurse), a sturdy, adjustable cane, comfortable exercise clothes and sturdy shoes for therapy.
11) Stay on top of the pain. It's a tough balance, not medicating in anticipation of pain while not getting behind. Catching up is agony. So maintain a regimen and start extending the periods between meds a little while the patient feels comfortable.
12) Take pain meds a half-hour before exercise or therapy. The caregiver will need to have good hands to massage the knee and the scar daily.
13) Ice, ice baby. . . We used frozen vegetables a lot because they're convenient and they pack nicely around the curve. Ice under and over.
14) Push the water. Drinking water helps flush the post-surgical body and will help reduce swelling.
15) Report any and all meds and supplements you are taking. Some OTC supplements can interact with blood-thinners which the patient will likely be on for two weeks. Even certain green leafy veggies can interfere, so report, ask questions and listen.
16) Prepare to lay low. The advice given to my husband--a man who makes his living traveling--is no driving or sitting for more than an hour at a time without a break and some walking, and no flying for 8-12 weeks. Previous health history will affect these times, but listen. They're trying to prevent blood clots.
That's about it. It sounds like a lot, but being prepared will take so much stress off the patient and the caregiver.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
She also conducted an interview with me about writing in general, as well as my experiences with this particular book. She's posting that interview, along with her review of Dawn's Early Light on her web site. My interview answers read more like Confessions of an Insane Author. Life gets crazy when one is seated behind a computer for hours and hours and hours on end. . .
If you enjoy writing, you know what I'm saying. So here are a few tips from one crazed novelist.
In my opinion, if you are a writer in any phase of development, from wannabe dreamer to published author, you need a few basic tools--a great idea, a passion for writing, a computer, thesaurus, dictionary, chocolate, time, a good critique group or a relative or friend willing to be tough with you, and some writing reference books.
You're on your own finding some of these items, but if you're writing fiction, I can help you out with a few.
In my opinion, The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes should be on your book shelf. For the beginner, it lays out--albeit with straightforward, Boot camp-style toughness--the excuses that prevent desire from becoming reality; and for the successful, published author, it provides a 38-point checklist--an author's medical kit if you will--to help you evaluate, diagnose problems and mend your work.
It's concise style appealed to me.
Some people may prefer a more esoteric approach like Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, which also sits on the bookshelf by my desk. But in crunch time, when I'm stuck and frustrated, having lost my creative way, 38 Mistakes by Jack M. Bickham, fills the bill, rights my path and gets my author-mojo working again.
I picked up another gem this past spring. It's written by Annette Lyons, a fellow LDStorymaker and a successful author/editor. It's playful, quirky style makes it a fun read, (who'd a thunk a grammar book could be a fun read?) and its concise layout makes it a valuable tool you'll actually refer to often.
Yes, I also have a thirteen-pound copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, but it gives my arm a cramp just picking it up, and my migraine sets in whenever I try to nail down a single question locked within it's 930 voluminous pages.
So pick up copies of these concise helps, and you'll find yourself excited about the process of not only writing, but writing well.
Oh, and don't forget to click on the Dawn's Early Light book cover above and read the first three chapters. Then visit Kersten's site and read her review. Better yet, come back here and post your own review of the preview here in the comment box. I'll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of Dawn's Early Light when it's released in a few weeks.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I hope you'll take a moment to read it and really think about the details, the promises, the admonitions it includes. It will move you. It did me.
June 1, 1987
The season of the world before us will be like no other in the history of mankind. Satan has unleashed every scheme, every blatant, vile perversion ever known to man in any generation. Just as this is the dispensation of the fullness of times, so it is also the dispensation of the fullness of evil. We and our wives and husbands, our children, and our members must find safety. There is no safety in the world; wealth cannot provide it, enforcement agencies cannot assure it, membership in this Church alone cannot bring it.
As the evil night darkens upon this generation, we must come to the temple for light and safety. In our temples we find quiet, sacred havens where the storm cannot penetrate to us. There are hosts of unseen sentinels watching over and guarding our temples. Angels attend every door. As it was in the days of Elisha so it will be for us, "Those that be with us are more than those that be against us."
Before the Savior comes the world will darken. There will come a period of time when even the elect will lose hope if they do not come to the temples. The world will be so filled with evil that the righteous will only feel secure within these walls. The Saints will come here not only to do vicarious work, but also to find a haven of peace. They will long to bring their children here for safety's sake.
I believe we may well have living on the earth now or very soon the boy or babe who will be the prophet of the church when the Savior comes. Those who will sit in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are here. There are many in our homes and communities who will have apostolic callings. We must keep them clean, sweet, and pure in an oh so wicked world.
There will be greater hosts of unseen beings in the temple. Prophets of old as well as those in this dispensation will visit the temples. Those who attend will feel their strength and feel their companionship. We will not be alone in our temples.
The covenants and ordinances will fill us with faith as a living fire. In a day of desolating sickness, scorched earth, barren wastes, sickening plagues, disease, destruction, and death, we as a people will rest in the shade of trees. We will drink from the cooling fountains. We will abide in places of refuge from the storm, we will mount up as on eagles' wings, we will be lifted out of the insane and evil world. We will be as fair as the sun and as clear as the moon.
The Savior will come and honor His people. Those who are spared and prepared will be a temple loving people. They will know Him. They will cry out "Blessed be the name of He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Thou art my God and I will bless Thee, thou art my God and I will exalt thee."
Our children will bow down at His feet and worship Him as the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings. They will bathe His feet with their tears and He will weep and bless them for having suffered through the greatest trials ever known to man. His bowels will be filled with compassion and His heart will swell wide as eternity and He will love them. He will bring peace that will last a thousand years and they will receive their reward to dwell with Him. Let us prepare them with the faith to surmount every trial and every condition. We will do it in these holy, sacred temples.
Come, come, oh come up to the temples of the Lord and abide in His presence.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
It will still be a few weeks before we'll be able to handle a copy, or see it on a book store shelf, but I've posted the first three chapters on my website. Please click either image. They'll take you to my web site. Once you're there, read the first three chapters and come back and leave a comment. If you do, I'll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of Dawn's Early Light, hot off the presses.
Also, check the "Promotions" link on my web site as well for two other ways to win prizes.!
We haven't yet cut the cord on this one . . . there's another round of editing to do, but the stellar story is there--tales of three of the darkest days in America's history--the week Washington burned!
I hope you'll take a moment to visit, and then I hope you'll let me know what you think.
I woke up to find this beautiful gift in my inbox. It's another tender slideshow from the Reflections of Christ Project--"Another Testament" illustrating Christ's ante-mortal visit to the Nephites, reminding us anew that He loves and is aware of all of His children, and that no sparrow falls to the earth without His knowledge.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
We've all been there, at the bedside of an ailing loved one, often times running to and fro on errands of support and entertainment more than sitting and offering quiet compassion. Both are critical to the patient patient. But that chair becomes ever more sacred in those hours of pain and fear, when only the trusted comforter is present.
There were childhood illnesses where I played the nursing mother, gratifying every possible want while being paid with the willingness of busy legs to temporarily slow, allowing me to once again enjoy the closeness, the need, the soft cuddling that would depart as soon as fevers broke, throats healed and sniffles dried. I remember how amazing it was to feel an already widely opened mother's heart expand even more, to love even more, to feel that fierce protectiveness even over a teen who could tower over me on a good day.
We've had some very painful stretches in that chair, by their own beds, in hospital beds, and curled up beside them on sofas. Some were passing worries. Some were life-altering and enduring--a husband's heart-attack and the long road to feeling safe and strong again; a daughter languishing while waiting for a kidney transplant and then the long recuperation that followed; a son air-flighted to Shock Trauma after a near-fatal car crash that left his knee dashed and his dreams of a college football career in tatters; waiting to see if an operation would restore life to another son's dying femur, and then again, three years later, watching him suffer with Lymes Disease while the baseball draft and his professional future, seemed to ebb beyond his grasp.
Some big dreams died while I sat in that chair. That's when a mother knows that the comforter's chair sits at the ready to heal souls as well bodies, though souls often require more time, more patience and skills we often don't realize we possess. We grow wiser and more humble, helping loved ones exchange those lost dreams in for different ones . . . in some cases better ones.
I'm in that chair again, sitting by my husband. He's doing fine and he'll be better than he's been in along while as a result. So I'm grateful . . . so grateful, knowing I can always reach from this chair to the real Comforter, and pray for wisdom, for patience, for Divine healing.
It is a sacred chair. We each have one. We've each sat there. Haven't we?
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I am in a rare minority--people who can no longer applaud and recommend Fox's debut musical hit, "Glee". I watched the pilot, and like most viewers, I fell in love with the music and the "Phoenix-like triumph of nerds and misfits" storyline. I was so busy toe-tapping and regressing back to my own sweet high-school choir days that I overlooked some questionable plot elements. So last week I Tivo-ed the show and I finally got around to watching it last night. I didn't even finish it. That's how saddened and disturbed I was by what I was seeing.
Glee could have been a great family show--one of those rare TV moments a parent could pop some corn, gather the kids together and share an evening on common ground. But though Glee is glossed up to appear youthful and fun, it's themes are controversial, even for adults. Glee producers self-proclaim the show to be a "dark comedic satire", and dark, in this case, appears to mean dirty. In one choreographed segment the six members of the Glee Club are grinding out a sexually explicit song, complete with dance moves that left very little to the imagination. It was like Hustler--the musical.
I also took offense at the reverse stereotyping. The off-beat characters are the most sympathetic while the one religious character, (the president of the Celibacy Club) is the most mean-spirited and hypocritical character in the cast, a girl who will trade her standards in like poker chips to get what she wants.
I also took great exception to a plot line involving the sanctity of marriage. McKinley High School's Glee Club advisor is Will Shuester, a morally-upright man who has become the romantic obsession of the school's socially and emotionally-challenged counselor, Emma Pillsbury. Blind to her feelings, Will eludes to martial problems at home, and Emma responds by offering comfort and counsel, exploiting the differences between the beleaguered husband and his materialistic and narcissistic control-freak wife. Okay, it's not Fatal Attraction, but the subtle, underlying message is very disturbing. Sympathies run so strong for good-guy Will and backwards Emma, and so strongly against the self-involved wife that you can hear people cheering all the way back here in Baltimore for Will to leave his wife and end up with his co-worker.
Now, why should this bother me? For one thing, this is the only heterosexual marriage portrayed in the series, and it is the most dysfunctional one in a cast where every other strange relationship, (ex. two gay dads who father the Glee Club's prima donna by surrogate), is portrayed as "normal" and functional.
Secondly, the only "normal" cast member is Will, the quiet hero. But he is bring written in such a way that viewers will want him to "fall" and become "flawed" in order to be happy. Now there's a fine message.
Glee pokes fun at every traditional family value, but why should that matter? What danger can one show cause?
As an author, I know all too well how entertainment affects opinions, and therefore culture. Look at the ripples from the Twilight books and all the merchandising done around the Hannah Montana show, or pick up any fashion magazine and the billions of dollars spent convincing you what beauty is and isn't. A generation ago people were apoplectic over Sonny and Cher living together out of wedlock. Now an entire magazine industry is based on feeding readers' hunger to know the details of every Hollywood affair.
Issues and core values are harder than ever to maintain. By painting the controversial with humor, or by wrapping it up in victimization, what was once troubling becomes the object of our empathy, until after seeing it frequently enough, instead of being alarming, it becomes the norm. Then, like the frog in the pot, we become deadened to the danger it poses to our values.
Hollywood and those who want to change our values don't need to march in the streets or fight the courts. All they need to do is cleverly write it into our entertainment and then wait for the messages to distort our core values, tell us that good is judgmental and evil is inclusive.
In our foolishness we often believe we are wise enough to sort out the distortions and therefore we can enjoy the show without being affected by it. I know a frog who used that same logic.
If you love the show and want to ask Fox to clean up its act, you can join Fox's Viewer Panel and have a voice in their programming.
But all of us need to take a more vigilant stand on what entertainment we allow into our homes, and one way of doing that is to pause and ask ourselves what principles can be pulled from a scene.
Consider a scene where a supposedly chaste young woman offers to surrender her virtue to get something she wants. What spirit does one feel simply by reading that scenario? And what principles could a young person absorb from it?
Does the question make us uncomfortable? I hope so. It's still not too late to turn off the stove.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I remember the impressions of that day so well, but the memories are not so clear, jumbled up in emotion rather than logic. Who could have known what that beautiful day would bring--the crisp bright sky with beaming sun-rays piercing the morning. School was back in session, but I had left my position with the school system at the end of the previous school year and this fall was the beginning of a less-complicated, more peaceful writer's life.
Or so I thought.
I had risen early, feeling sick that day. I looked out on that perfect, pristine morning sky and decided to enjoy the luxury of unemployment--being able to sleep in until my head stopped spinning. Tom had left earlier to head to DC for a conference with the military computer buyers. He was only miles from the Pentagon.
I turned the Today show on to catch up on the morning's news and immediately I knew something terrible had happened in New York City.
My immediate reactions was likely similar to those of everyone else--run a quick inventory of the family. Where were they and did they know? I called my recently widowed mother who was angry and frightened. As soon as I felt she was calm I began calling the kids, and the the unthinkable happened. The Pentagon!
Tom called to say he was all right and to describe the organized chaos unfolding as officers scrambled to return to code red duties. We all wondered what was coming next. Our middle son appeared to be safe, tucked away at school in Utah, but we had a son in Philadelphia, another important east coast target, and our daughter had returned home, having transferred from Ricks College in Idaho to UMBC in Baltimore, and our youngest was in high school, placing the largest portion of our family in the hot zone between DC to the south, the biological-weapon storehouse at Fort Detrick to our west, and the Underground Pentagon a few miles to the north.
Two friends had sons living in New York at the time and a member of our congregation was supposed to be in a meeting at the World Trade Center that day. Just weeks prior, Amanda had driven her friend to his new NYU digs mere blocks from the financial district. They even grabbed lunch at an eatery in the World Trade Center so she knew exactly how close he was to Ground Zero. No calls were getting in or out, but as images began showing hordes of people walking, running, fleeing over the bridges, we all prayed and waited and hoped.
Once the second plane flew into the south tower our innocence was stripped away. This was no accident . . no error. This was a exquisitely-planned assault. And when flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, all bets were off around here, and everywhere. Anything was possible, and even likely to happen.
Eventually we heard from our friends in New York. Some fled across the bridges on foot in a mass exodus. Amanda's friend was within blocks of Ground Zero when the attack occurred. Our friend from church had been delayed that day. Had things gone as originally planned, he would have been sitting in a meeting, trapped inside. The things they each witnessed were indescribable--tales of horror, tales of great courage, of great humanity in response to unspeakable inhumanity.
Like the heroic passengers of flight 93, good people of conscience set the bar high for all of us, and in turn, we responded beautifully.
The next day, like many of my neighbors, like many of yours, I'm sure, I rushed to the craft store for red-white-and blue ribbon, but there was none to be had. The shelves were picked clean by the dozens of people already in line to cash out or waiting for the bow-makers to create a patriotic tribute for them.
Bows and ribbons, flags and banners waved from everything and everything. We came together. We were one nation under God again. We were humble and grieving, but defiant and ready. We were bent, but not broken, sad but not subdued.
Here's a link to a timeline of that days events. It's hard to read, but remembering is important.
Today is a day to respond in a similar manner. Let's return to our knees in prayer. Let's fast and pray to God for help, for guidance, for wisdom, for aide. Let's smile at one another in unity and love. Let's make the air ring with the Pledge of Allegiance, with the Star Spangled banner, with the sounds of joy.
We are Americans! We are proud to wear that title.
God bless this land and all her people.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Don't miss the opportunity to win a personalized copy of this thought-provoking novel. Award-winning author, Rachel Ann Nunes, is promoting the book's release with a blog tour and contest, and the prize is an autographed copy of Saving Madeline. To enter, simply read the review and leave a comment at the bottom. All responders will have their names and contact info turned into Rachel and the winner will be notified shortly after September 25th.
For more chances to win, check out Rachel's blog to see all the other blogs on her tour. Make comments on them as well and get more chances to win! Now read and enjoy!
By Rachel Ann Nunes
Saving Madeline is the newest release of award-winning author Rachel Ann Nunes, a gifted writer who has also gone the extra mile to mentor aspiring and budding authors. I had the privilege of meeting Rachel this spring at the LDStorymakers Writers' Conference, and she is as lovely and gracious as she is talented and prolific, (with twenty-nine published works to her credit). I was honored and delighted to have the opportunity to read and review her newest book. It's a delicious read. Enjoy!
Saving Madeline is a thought-provoking must-read that satisfies on every level. Inspired by true events, Nunes’ fictional storyline pulls the reader into the complex world of the law and its ethics as four adults play protective tug-of-war over a child named Madeline.
The book opens with two diverse but equally captivating story lines. Exhausted and disillusioned public defender, Caitlin McLoughlin of Salt Lake City, Utah, is repulsed by the thought that her guilty, violent client will walk away from an attempted murder charge because of a lack of evidence—evidence she possesses but which she is legally obligated to withhold under attorney-client privilege. A few miles south, in a seedy section of Salt Lake City, laborer Parker Hathaway kidnaps a sleeping child—his daughter, Madeline—and hides her two hours away from the mother he claims is methamphetamine-addicted and endangering his child.
The devastated mother reports the child as missing, denying Parker’s accusations, and the police rush in to rescue Madeline. Caitlin is called in to represent Parker, merging the story lines and the ethical dilemmas of these two principals. But who is telling the truth, and who has Madeline’s best interest at heart? The mother? The father? The police? The law? And what circumstances, if any, warrant circumventing the law to achieve justice?
These are among the moral and ethical dilemmas Nunes raises in Saving Madeline, made ever more powerful through her complex character development and deft handling of the principals’ points-of-view. Caitlin and Parker are multi-faceted, written with an insightful blend of tenderness and grit. Battered by chance and by choice, we feel the thinness of their hope and we are immediately invested and biting our nails.
Saving Madeline is a smart, fast-paced read with multiple possibilities that kept this reader guessing the next move, only to be pleasantly surprised by Nunes’ unanticipated plot twists, and the consequent need to turn just one more page. It’s a triple threat—filled with plenty of suspense, romance, and drama—that dares to make you question your own ethics and ask yourself what you would do in similar circumstances.
The subterfuge Parker employs to hide Madeline and himself from the law is alluded to, though it would have been fascinating to witness the depths this father descended in his self-appointed quest to protect his child. Regardless, you will cheer, and likely cry when the truth is revealed, the toll is detailed, and Madeline’s true protector is vindicated.
Rachel Ann Nunes maintains the tension to the very last page-turn, and when the fictional drama ends, the education begins. Nunes includes some of the information that led her to write this gritty story, as well discussion questions and educational links for further study, making Saving Madeline not only an outstanding read that entertains, but one that enlightens as well.
Saving Madeline, published by Shadow Mountain Publishers, is scheduled for a mid-September release and will be available on Amazon, at Deseret Bookstores, and at the stores listed in the following link: http://www.ranunes.com/whereToBuy.php.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I have an eighty-year-old aunt, (bless her heart) who sends me little forwards all the time. I saved this one. It must have been one of those days, you know? Read on . . . you'll see.
Recently, in a large French city, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said: THIS SUMMER DO YOU WANT TO BE A MERMAID OR A WHALE?
A middle aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.
To Whom It May Concern:
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans).. They have an active sex life, they get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.
Mermaids don't exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them not to mention how could they have sex? Therefore they don't have kids either. Not to mention who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?
The choice is perfectly clear to me; I want to be a whale.
P.S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver and a coffee with my friends. With time we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy.
Beginning today, when I look at my derriere in the mirror I will think, Good gosh, look how smart I am!
Friday, September 4, 2009
Of greater concern to me are the comments people left after viewing it. It was clear we are an increasingly divided people right now, and not just about how the left or right will handle the nation's problems, but about what we want in general, and who we want to be as a people.
It's not a new concern. At seventeen, I was a liberal-minded political hopeful who believed, like Phil Donahue, that we could spread a checkered tablecloth out on the White House lawn, invite men like Castro and Khadafi to a picnic summit, and all would be solved. I also believed that politicians, soldiers and police officers all believed in God, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and said their prayers every day. In short, I believed in the innate goodness of all people.
I still do. Most of us do.
Most of us want a world without poverty, pain or crime. A world where peace reigns and harmony allows us to fully embrace our diversity and differences. But a few want more.
History--the kind in books and the kind we experience daily--tells us that where great good exists, so does its opposite. And it confronts us in many ways--in brilliant charisma, in brutal power, with its hand outstretched in need, and sometimes with its hand outstretched seemingly in friendship.
It can be so confusing. And that, it seems, is where good people become so divided on the issue of caring for our fellowman. The question then--the great sifter--is this. What do we want to be as a people? As the old adage goes, do we want to be a nation of fishers, or a nation receiving doled out fish? For those who believe we are made in God's image, we believe it is our divine nature to progress, to work, to achieve, to fail, to learn, and then to grow, while succoring the needy, lifting the downtrodden and bettering the world. We were not meant to be crippled by limitations or penned up for our own good.
We were meant to stumble, catch ourselves and run.
It's an ancient dilemma. I think back to the children of Israel who cried, begged, pled and wearied the Lord to be free. And then, when Moses came in the power of the Lord, leading them out of bondage, not even the many miracles they beheld could stiffen their back sufficiently to prevent them from whining about the work freedom would require. Instead, they thought back fondly on the fleshpots of Egypt.
History reminds us that freedom costs.
I've spent years now, researching and marvelling over the courage of the Founding Fathers and their families. They pledged "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honors" to further the cause of freedom. We are the lazy heirs of their sacrifice, but look around the world at nations just realizing the cost. Remember the courage of the student who stood before a tank in Tienanmen Square in China? Or the bloody masses in rising up after the elections in Iran?
What are we willing to sacrifice?
Still, discord is like a harrow, ripping open holes in the earth into which stray seeds can fall. And some of the seeds taking root right now, conservative though they may seem, are too radical, too angry, too worrisome.
I keep thinking about a scripture from the Book of Mormon, "Oh, be wise . . ."
I'm most hopeful about the call to fast and pray on September 11th. We need the ever-sure help of the Lord right now. Again, referring to scripture, I am reminded of the many times the people finally realized they needed His help, humbling themselves and calling upon His guidance.
I hope we're there.