Thursday, September 27, 2007


I haven't blogged for a couple weeks. First it was a vacation break from everything, mandated by my wife who insisted I not be focused on the Internet, but rather on her. Fair enough. We had a lovely week in San Diego, relaxing on the beach, going to museums, enjoying each other for the first time as empty-nesters on vacation. So then I return to work this last Monday, to find out that while I was gone my company re-structured and I and 20 other people are no longer employed.

"You're kidding, right??"

"Sorry, no."

I am totally in shock. I've been with this great company for a little less than two years. I worked as a food scientist in a small R&D group. I was valued and respected. I was inventing really cool stuff. But then the company 'merged' a few months ago. The acquiring company didn't have an R&D group. (Would that be a red flag?) Last week they ousted the wonderful and vibrant CEO with all his positive values, and established their own way of doing things, which obviously will be without his vision of the future that included me.

How could this happen? Shit happens. But nothing happens in a vacuum. Reverberations happen. Well, it so happens that the founder's daughter was out driving drunk and killed someone earlier this year. They needed money to protect her in court with high-powered attorneys; they had to sell the company. We all wondered if there would be fall-out from the 'accident.' Yup, there sure was. It all rolls downhill. But maybe not without a purpose.

So, where do you want me to go, dear Lord? I'll do what you want me to do. The reverberations are not finished yet. We'll be starting again somewhere else, and only the Lord knows the end from the beginning. This isn't the first time of packing up and moving on for us. A new horizon, a new calling, a new opportunity to serve, and new important lessons to learn. Given my love for change, it's always a new adventure--maybe my dreams will come true, this time around...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Q for struggle

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

Helen Keller

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Gone But Not Forgotten

My brother would have been 54 today. Growing up, my family usually celebrated our birthdays together. He died over three years ago, and there is a hole in my life where he used to be. Even though he was my big brother, he was always more like my little brother. My brother was severely handicapped by epilepsy and he never lived a 'normal' life. He lived mostly alone, in a world of reaching out for meaning and acceptance, a world that I fear was too often brutal and disappointing.

My brother joined the church while I was on my mission, and his true satisfaction in life was serving wherever he could. But he was the wierd guy that volunteered for everything, that had to be told sometimes to please go away. It nearly broke his heart when he had to put away his Scouting uniform, because some mothers were concerned about him with their boys. Yet he was genuinely loved by his ward--I learned this from attending his funeral. I chose not to speak, I only wanted to sing. It was and still is the most important solo I have ever sung: How Great Thou Art. I also chose the hymn, "Lord, I Would Follow Thee." It fit him, his zeal, his love, his quiet heart.

My brother was a dreamer. When we were boys, he loved to draw fantasy castles filled with magical animals and we would let them live through our imaginations. He drew all the time; he was never without a pencil. We created all kinds of stories about kingdoms and chivalry. Then as he grew into a man, and the effects of heavy medications began to take their tole, he stopped drawing. But he always had big plans, like businesses he wanted to start up, things he wanted to invent, a wife and kids. Although none of that could ever happen for him, he'd never admit to believing in any of his limitations. Maybe that was his saving grace.

My brother died in his sleep, probably from a seizure. He was found several days later in his apartment, with his hand outstretched. I thought this was iconic: he always was reaching for something. Maybe now he can get his arms around his dreams. I wrote this poem about it. I believe his death was a sweet release, a gift from our loving Father in Heaven.

So today I'm missing him. Again. I wish he could know that, maybe he does. Happy birthday to you, John, my beloved brother.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Poem: Dragonflies Mating

This is the last section of a longer poem.

I think the observation of human need and behavior, set in the stirring imagery of this poem is thought provoking, so I'm sharing. Do we wound ourselves and others, carry it with us, in going back to the abyss, time and time again in seach of love? Do we marry with the sky? And what of the cosmos do we transfer in our loving relationships?

The author is Robert Haas, a contemporary American poet.


This morning in the early sun,
steam rising from the pond the color of smoky topaz,
a pair of delicate, copper-red, needle-fine insects
are mating in the unopened crown of a Shasta daisy
just outside your door. The green flowerheads look like wombs
or the upright, supplicant bulbs of a vegetal pre-erection.
The insect lovers seem to be transferring the cosmos into each other
by attaching at the tail, holding utterly still, and quivering intently.

I think (on what evidence?) that they are different from us.
That they mate and are done with mating.
They don’t carry all this half-mated longing up out of childhood
and then go looking for it everywhere.
And so, I think, they can’t wound each other the way we do.
They don’t go through life dizzy or groggy with their hunger,
kill with it, smear it on everything, though it is perhaps also true
that nothing happens to them quite like what happens to us
when the blue-backed swallow dips swiftly toward the green pond
and the pond’s green-and-blue reflected swallow marries it a moment
in the reflected sky and the heart goes out to the end of the rope
it has been throwing into abyss after abyss, and a singing shimmers
from every color the morning has risen into.

My insect instructors have stilled, they are probably stuck together
in some bliss and minute pulse of after-longing
evolution worked out to suck the last juice of the world
into the receiver body. They can’t separate probably
until it is done.

Robert Hass, “Dragonflies Mating” from Sun Under Wood. Copyright �© 1996 by Robert Hass.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Happy Birthday to me

But its not all about me. . . more than half a century ago, my dear mother descended into the shadow of the valley of death to bring me into the world. I wish she were here to enjoy my day with me, but I honor her in all my thoughts today.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Q for love

"If you have it [love], you don't need to have anything else, and if you don't have it, it doesn't matter much what else you have."

-- James M. Barrie

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Yes, I can feel so now.

How can you not look at this little boy and not want to smile? I think he has a secret, maybe a joke, something wonderful he's just busting to share. He is feeling grand; I can feel it.

How can we not hear the music of Zion, especially when it stirs our souls, and not want to sing? It's happened to most of us, those moments when you get carried away, when you know the God of Heaven lives, when you simply want to cry out and acknowledge, "It's True!"

Such a moment happened to me today. I was sorting through old emails and came across a large file. "What's this?" I thought to myself. It was an MP3 file I hadn't had time to download when I received it, then I'd forgotten to get back to it. Now it was Saturday morning, the house was still, and I had an extra minute. The music was by the BYU Men's Chorus, singing "I Love the Lord," text taken largely from 2 Nephi 4, and arranged to the tune of "Be Still, My Soul."

Here are the words:

I love the Lord. In him my soul delights.
Upon his word, I ponder day and night.
He's heard my cry, brought visions to my sleep,
And kept me safe o'er deserts and the deep.
He's filled my heart with his consuming love,
And borne me high on wings of his great dove.

Yet oft I groan,"O wretched man am I!"
My flesh is weak and I'm encompassed by
A world of sin, which holds me in its thrall,
If I give in and to temptations fall.
Then strength grows slack, I waste in sorrow's vale.
My peace destroyed, my enemies prevail.

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin.
Rejoice, my heart! And let me praise again
The Lord my God, who is my rock and stay
To keep me strict upon his straight, plain way.
O let me shake at the first sight of sin
And thus escape my foes without and in.

I love the Lord. In him my soul delights.

I wish I could figure out how to attach the MP3 file to this post. If Blogger has a widget and someone knows how to use it, please give me a clue.

I had quickly scanned these words when my friend sent the email, and thought "that's nice." But usually it takes more than just words to move us. Somehow the sound of the choir, the exquisite harmony of men's voices in perfect unity took on life, and it grabbed me by my heart. Tears began to stream down my face and I had to just let the feeling of the Spirit flow, slow at first, then in heartfelt sobs as I reveled in the fire of my faith. Yes, I could feel as though no doubt ever existed in my life. I could feel only praise for so sublime a plan as the Lord's perfect Atonement. My love and adoration for Him was sent on the wings of prayer to on high.

How is this so? I don't know, other than it's been a while since I really pondered on my love for God. I wish I could reproduce these kind of feelings on demand, but I acknowledge they are a gift of the Spirit. Grace happens. It's like experiencing a vivid dream and for some unexplainable reason, it all makes perfect sense. But when you wake up and try to explain it to another, it somehow falls apart. We live in a world of great beauty and ugliness, light and varying shades of darkness. We must go through turbulent waters on our journey to the infinite. But today I felt my true love flowing again, it felt wonderful, and that feeling has lifted my hope to new heights.