Friday, November 27, 2015

Two Hours and Elizabeth Allan

Am I the only person who always has at least one pile of little pieces of paper? I sometimes think a good portion of my life’s mission is somehow wrapped up in managing piles of paper.

Well, this morning I picked up the tiny piece of paper which has been floating around on the dressing room counter top. On it were written these words:      
         16 Aug 1752
         Allan, Elizabeth
        18 Mar 1975
                          (M)

This was one of many slips filled out during the years when I was able to attend the temple regularly. They represent multiple blessing opportunities.

So this morning the paper finally got connected with the computer. There she was, the oldest daughter of Malcolm ALLAN and Elizabeth ANDERSON. And there was the confirmation that I had attended the Provo Temple on 18 March 1975.

Have to confess that several subsequent questions swirled through my head. What was going on in my life at that point? A quick reference to my journal for that year brought back the memories. A brief entry—

18 Mar, Tue (Elizabeth Allan)* - Up last night with some aches. . . . Good trip to the temple with Marlene Peterson.

But surrounding that were some household challenges, the weight of a hefty calling in the branch, the pending relocation to the East Coast in less than two months, and the heartaches associated with being a single sister whose Prince Charming identification kept getting delayed.

I hope those two hours of time will have made an eternal contribution to Elizabeth’s progression as an individual and as a member of her family. I hope we have an opportunity at some point to pause and give each other a hug.

Suspect there may be a few tears shed at that point, at least by me. So I also hope there are tissues available in the spirit world!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Black holes

Earlier this week, my husband was watching a show about black holes. I was listening from the other room, so I didn't see many of the images. However, it made me remember my own personal encounter with a black hole.

I was probably a pre-teen when I asked my father one day what happens to you when you die. Looking back, it is tempting to wonder why an 11- or 12-year-old girl would be asking such a question. But for those of you who know only the adult me, it might not be such a terrific mystery.

Anyway, my father—the product of a very intellectual, humanistic home—answered the only thing he felt he knew for sure. “You just cease to exist.”

That might have been satisfying to those who dabble in esoteric philosophical pursuits. However, it wasn’t very comforting to a young girl who had had no exposure to religious concepts. In the middle of some very dark Colorado nights, I laid awake thinking about the inevitability of my ceasing to exist. And perhaps because I tend to be visual, what I saw in my head was a consuming black cloud which would eventually swallow all that was ever me. There were accompanying tears.

In the more comforting light of day, I pondered this situation a little more logically. As I viewed the complexity of my surroundings, from the majestic mountains shouldering my hometown to the family in which I was planted, it didn’t make sense. It seemed like something of a farce authored by a capricious malevolence.

So I approached my father with the question. “If what you said is true, that we just cease to be, then what is the purpose of all this? Why do we even live at all?”

His answer was not a bad one—“To leave the world a better place than when we came.” You can live a very moral life on that basis.

But for me it did not extinguish either the black-hole nights or the questioning.

In December 2001, my father was hospitalized following a stroke. According to a second-hand report, a nurse was explaining to him why a procedure was necessary. “Because if we don’t, you could die.” Inexplicably, she purportedly continued, “Are you afraid to die?”

The report I received was that he nodded his head in the affirmative. His response haunts me to this day and makes me wonder if he’d had a few encounters with his own black hole of doubt and fear.

A few years after my initial query, my black hole was transformed into a glorious avenue of golden promise because of the principles I was taught.

Hopefully, Daddy has learned some exciting new things by now as well.