Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Daughter Called Abundance

Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters;
and take wives for your sons,
and give your daughters to husbands
that they may bear sons and daughters;
that ye may be increased there,
and not diminished. ~Jerimiah 29:6
Poets may try to describe Abundance, but the essence of rapture, wholeness, blessedness, and security cannot be compressed into a boxful of words, smashed down or unleashed, tied with ribbon, or thrown to the wind. Abundance will not be portioned by words, which is ironic, since abundance craves to be shared, divided and multiplied. It runs over and spills and diffuses joy like a crystal chandelier, washing everything to a glow and bringing out the vivid colors in a world that ordinarily appears...ordinary.

My Baby became Bride one week ago. All her life (and the hordes of people who adore her will attest) she has created Abundance: it goes before her, surrounds her, and leaves a wake behind her. She lives like the  exuberant child she once was: playful and joyous in a pool filled with Abundance; splashing all the rest of us, drenching all the rest of us, laughing at our surprise. 

Her bridal gown appeared luminous, reflecting the natural sparkle in her countenance. She glittered like a summer lake, enticing everyone to dive in and cool off in her. For those of us who have known her the longest and loved her the best, Hannah has long been such a refuge; a mountain retreat where we are refreshed by Abundance.

Wedding Day became the opportunity for all of us to return the favor. Fans and friends and family threw love and memories and gratitude and talents and hope like kindling into the fire Kenneth and Hannah had ignited, then stood in awe and watched the blaze until we thought it touched the stars. Breathless at the perfect beauty of living, we basked in Unity and Abundance for hours until they were carried off in fairy-tale style. Content in the afterglow, we sat around the fire of friendship after they left us, staying warm by the embers.

My baby became Bride one week ago. Just like one of the butterflies on her cake, or in her flowers, or around her neck, she fluttered into the cupped hands of her perfect man. He held her with wonder and tenderness; stunned that such a fine, delicate, thrilling creature had chosen to alight on him and kiss his face forever.

All the rest of us are delighted that it is his glass jar that she's chosen to live in. We know he will feed and protect and marvel at her and that together, they will transform life as we know it.

Abundance has a way of enlightening and enlarging everything.

 A mother's treasure is her daughter. ~Catherine Pulsifer

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's a Family For?

“Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle. But growth cannot come by taking the easy way. We clearly understand that an athlete who resists rigorous training will never become a world-class athlete. We must be careful that we don’t resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature.” Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy, General Conference, April 2011

His tiny face is dominated by the largest eyes I have ever seen on a baby and the thick shock of shiny yellow hair is a delightful contrast and surprise. His perfect head lay against the pillow on my lap, so that we could interact face to face while we rocked. It was our first opportunity to have a real interview – just Grammy and Little Boy Blue.

Of course, I had lots of questions and I asked them, but he was reticent to answer just yet. He knew I suppose, that his recollections of the home he’d left a week before were too brilliant for my dull brain; I might explode if he revealed too much. So instead, he kept his intelligence under wraps -- only he couldn’t keep the glow of it from spilling out of those huge, black eyes. I rocked, basked in his glory, and took up the slack in the conversation.
Grandma banter covers a lot of ground. For instance, Little Boy Blue is now oriented to nearly every Merit Badge. (I think he’s excited about Cubs.) Yet for all the talk, most of our bonding time was spent silently appraising one another; just staring; just considering the possibilities.
I must admit, when Old meets New like that, the bulk of “possibilities” are on a grand scale: what grandma doesn’t wonder if she is holding a future President of the United States or the genius who may cure cancer? On the other hand, and maybe because I had just attended Sir Henry’s memorial and graveside service, I realized with a slight shudder that “the possibilities” also included a great deal of loss and pain.

All of a sudden, I wanted to protect my Little Boy Blue from real life. And then I wanted to protect his parents. My imaginary umbrella grew and grew until it ballooned big enough to cover an entire group of people – the ones I call “family”.
What really saddened me momentarily was the thought that my umbrella was not made of some heavy Indian rubber, but was more of a parasol made of paper. Nothing I could do would ever shield my loved ones, especially Little Boy Blue, from the risks associated in the Plan of Salvation, nor would/should I desire such a thing. The prospect of growth, of growth all the way to perfection, over-ruled my natural instinct to squelch trouble and tribulation from having their sway.
And then there’s my baby girl, who will be married next Saturday. Talk about risk! I envision she and her Little-Boy-Blue-nephew jumping feet-first into very deep water, while I wait, somewhat helplessly, at pool’s edge to see how long before they come up for air. Each of them are surrendering all illusion of control, giving themselves wholly into the hands of others, with no other strategy or defense or protection other than love.
With that picture, the things I had been studying and musing about recently, finally all came together and sunk deep into my heart. The essence of it is this:
The rain and the sun in Father’s Plan of Happiness, his Plan of Redemption, our tailor-made Plan of Spiritual Maturation, is obviously not about deflecting pain. It’s about absorbing pain; greater and greater amounts of it. With each new addition to our family, through marriage or birth, the risks may be increasing, but from where else comes the joy of progress? Family life is not a way of hiding or shading from suffering, but a way of suffering purposefully. No family will ever come into being, or become ultimately successful,  who doesn’t accept that reality and relinquish control over life and one another, which, in fact, is precisely how love wins in the end and fills our lives with the peace and abundance we all crave.
I wanted to explain all that to Little Boy Blue as he lay on my lap: I wanted to teach him that instead of fearing “the possibilities”, he should completely and enthusiastically embrace them, even relish them, and that we, his family, would love him through every eventuality. But just as I was formulating the words, those great, dark eyes lit up, a quiver of a smile passed his lips, and I heard a petite voice say, “It’s alright Grammy, I’ll take good care of you. It’s gonna be so much fun.”