Truth is its own magic: A Mother’s Day message

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When you’re a mom, some of the things that come out of your mouth may sound strange:  “Don’t chew on Jesus,” “Will you just hurry up and poop?”, and “Stop putting chicken on your head!”, are some of my greatest hits.

As I was getting my daughter ready for bed the other night, thinking about what I wanted to read to her (praying she wouldn’t mention Minnie, as in The Mouse), the Beatitudes of Jesus came to mind.  I realized then that I’ve spent so much time reading and singing to her and teaching her the things she will need to know to get on here–like letters and numbers, saying “thank you” and not littering–that I hadn’t focused much on the religious part of her education.

Thinking back, that’s exactly how my parents raised me.  For them, church was something you needed if you were an ass.

When I was in high school in the nineties, a lot of kids were self-proclaimed “Jesus freaks,” wearing “True Love Waits” rings and WWJD bracelets.  There was a lot of talk about the rapture and born-again virginity.  Church was their social life, Praise and Worship music their vibe.  Some of them even carried their Bibles around at school.  

Just as Felicity (remember that WB show?) followed a boy to college, I, a freshman, followed a senior boy to his church.  One evening, after service had ended, we sat in a pew as he led me through the salvation prayer, and I was like, “That’s it?  Are you sure? It’s that easy?”

I had been expecting a feeling–a total transformation like Saul’s to Paul–and now I wonder when Jesus told Doubting Thomas that (and I paraphrase) blessed are they who don’t see but believe, that “see” could also apply to “feel.”

Four years later, I joined the Mormon Church.  All the good feelings I had expected to feel when I had gotten saved, I felt then, but who isn’t going to feel good when they’re around so many friendly people who open their hearts and homes?  Even though it’s been years since I sent my name to Salt Lake to be expunged (er, removed) from the records, I will admit that the Church made me a more spiritual person.

In the Church, I was taught that the glory of God is intelligence and yet, according to these same people, for those who had mental challenges, the devil could not touch them. 

To my understanding, a lack of mental capacity (e.g. intelligence) saved a soul.  It seems contradictory, and yet, it somehow makes sense to me.

As I gaze upon my child, I see that light and intelligence.  She knows so much more than she communicates, which can be frustrating, but I have learned to overcome the need to explain why she is the way she is to people who don’t know her–to explain why she doesn’t respond when people ask her her name–but then, I have had several people who’ve taken one look at her and ask if she’s autistic.

I may never know how much she understands, but I do know that I will teach her everything I know and believe, whether it’s that adverbs are the enemy of good writing or that respect doesn’t have to be earned but it can be lost.  (You don’t disrespect people until they “earn” your respect.)

I’ve striven so much to give her a magical childhood through imagination and storytelling.  (Children’s author, Nancy Tillman, is a master at this.)  Nearly every night, since my mom passed from this earth, I ask my daughter to tell Grandma “good-night” and “I love you” and to blow her a kiss.  And then I seemingly catch that kiss in midair, letting her open my hand and take it; sometimes I place my palm on the crown of her head–a blessing from Heaven.

Of course, I don’t really know how things work up there, but part of parenting, for me, has always been teaching truths with just a pinch of magic.

C.S. Lewis did that very thing with his Narnia series, just as I will someday do with mine.

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#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

For years,
we had visited an empty grave,
like Mary coming to see
the empty tomb.
The latter had risen,
the former had never died,
but had suffered for the sins
committed in Mother’s world.

My David—
who I’d thought a prince of a man,
an earthly king of kings—
had lain with a married woman,
whose husband he had paid
to keep alive.
Like King David,
he was,
but better.

David had kept the Fosters
a secret from Mother,
even as he had kept my father
a secret from me.
He was a complicated man,
& because of him,
I was a complicated woman.

My mother could’ve chosen to end my life in the womb,
but I could not choose to end her life outside it,
even though she had killed something inside me.

The foundation of our existence shook,
the pillars & posts of transparency tumbled around me,
& I walked through the valley of the shadow of spiritual death
in a temporal world that had become an anathema to me.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

Mormoni

The candles in the chapel had burned out,
the smell of sulfur was strong.
I called out to God in the dark,
& He answered in David’s voice.

The Church was the lie that led me to the truth.
Had the Church never happened,
my parents would still be alive—
one living a lie,
the other, just lying.

I had experienced salvation at St. Mary’s—
not through my works,
but through an act of faith
in which a wondrous work
had been wrought in me.

The Church had touched that part of me that was spiritual,
David,
the part that was sensual,
& Mother,
the part that was psychologically fragile,
for I was a doll that had been broken
in many places,
without realizing I had been broken at all.

I did not want to short the Lord,
because for giving His all,
He asked for 10 percent of my income,
a seventh of my time,
& my whole heart.

 

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

Mormoni

When Mother married David,
it was for them.
When she would die as
the result of a lethal conception,
it was for them.
Everything she would ever do
for would be for them &
because of them.

I was in love with a boy I didn’t understand,
but the boy who understood me,
I loved as a friend &
could only love as more
in the absence of all the others.

When I was a child,
I was childlike.
When I became a woman,
I would set my child aside,
for I was still a child myself.

Snapshots were captured moments,
portraits, created moments.
The former was for families like theirs,
the latter, for a family like mine.

I had never taken a walk with Jesus,
like the Protestants.
I had never spoken to His mother,
like the Catholics.
Rather, I sought the head of the
Heavenly household:
His Father.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #444: Four

150px-Foursquare

The Foursquare Gospel

Jesus Christ the Savior–
not the ghost of a mortal or a legend of The Fall,
but the earthly flesh and heavenly spirit
of an extraterrestrial,
who came to us a form we could
understand,
with words only some of us ever would–
words powerful enough to compel some to love their enemies
and others to hate their families.
This was true omniscience.

The Baptizer–
for asking others to do
what even He had to.
No ventriloquist, was He,
for the voice from Heaven
was as much His as the voice
from the clump of cells
that made up His body,
for if He was truly everywhere,
then in our cells,
He is also.
This was true omnipresence.

The Healer–
for hands that crafted cradles and
the crosses that would become
His temporary open coffin;
for garments, water, and clay
He turned healing and holy,
and blood that transmitted without needles,
with which He could save the worst of humankind.
This was true omnipotence.

The Coming King–
whose crown was as luminous as
the sun’s corona,
illuminating this Being who had
the mane of a lion and
the roar of a lamb and
a passion unmatched between any two lovers
at their heights.
Though even He knows not when to return
to this rocky world He lay his life down for.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-444

Poem-a-Day April 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #24. Theme: Roundelay

Dark sun

Christ the Lord

He lived by the Word and died by the sword
His childhood was private, His ministry, public
From a virgin he sprung,
pure as a virgin spring
His life was predestined for greatness–
a greatness and influence even death could not end

From a virgin he sprung,
pure as a virgin spring
A babe, a child, a man–He was all of these
An old man, a woman, a lover–He was none
His life was predestined for greatness–
a greatness and influence even death could not end

A babe, a child, a man–He was all of these
An old man, a woman, a lover–He was none
He was a fisher of men, a protector-gatherer of children,
a respecter of women, a hunter after God’s own heart
His life was predestined for greatness–
a greatness and influence even death could not end

He was a fisher of men, a protector-gatherer of children,
a respecter of women, a hunter after God’s own heart
He lived by the Word and died by the sword
His childhood was private, His ministry, public
His life was predestined for greatness–
a greatness and influence even death could not end

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-april-pad-challenge-day-24

Sweet Little Nothings

Teach your grandma to take a selfie

Eleanor Carter had been a real dish–
“like Wedgwood Blue china,”
she would say.
She had ripened into an Heirloom tomato,
ready for Jesus to claim
& pluck from the aging vine.
When she learned how
to take a selfie,
her poodle–
all ribbons & bows–
photobombed it,
becoming an Internet sensation.
And Eleanor found that she was no longer
the cat’s meow,
but rather,
Cuddles was the dog’s bow-wow.

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