Today marks the first day of spring in the year 2020. I had envisioned posting every workday for the 20 days prior so that I could welcome this day with a nice, round 100 blog posts. I even gave myself a hashtag on Instagram: #20in20for2020vision
I had once blogged 10 times in 10 days, so a mere two-fold increase seemed like the perfect stretch.
I had no idea how much my time was about to refuse stretching of any kind. I mentioned that my son swore off naps around the same time, and because of a mean cold, he did resume naps for a while, but by then I had more going on with all of my other goals and projects and needed that time to focus or to take a nap too.
Then the world turned upside down and every day is Saturday.
Not Saturday like “let’s all go out to dinner and a movie.” Like a Saturday in tornado season when I was a kid babysitting my younger siblings and thought it best to hunker down in the basement bathroom, away from all windows, with a radio and a bag of grapes and my younger siblings because I was in charge and thought it was all up to me to keep us safe. Not much writing happens for me during survival mode.
And if I haven’t mentioned it (I don’t suppose I’ve ever mentioned Old Reliable before?), I have mental health challenges. Mental illness.
Caring for myself mentally has me now up to three medications, yoga, meditation, therapy (teletherapy now!), phone calls with my psychiatrist, jogging, spiritual study, a daily workout, diet changes (not quite Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, or Atkins–just light on the refined carbs and heavy on a variety of proteins, fats, and planty things), a thousand apologies daily, and re-learning how to breathe.
You read that right. It may be instinctual, but I’ve been breathing all wrong.
I have been breathing wrong for so long, in fact, that my diaphragm, abdominal organs, and pelvic floor have all shifted and caused a host of problems. But this is a great time to enjoy breathing and to gather to my consciousness what a miracle the whole process truly is. So if you haven’t done it before, practice belly breathing.
Quick explanation so you don’t have to open another screen: Lie on your back with your knees at a 90-degree angle and your lower legs supported by a sofa. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath and aim for zero chest rise.
This isn’t a life-saving moment, so let me reiterate: you are not watching for chest rise. It is a life-giving moment: let your belly puff out like you’re pregnant and proud of it. No matter your child-bearing status, you can be filled with new life when you breathe properly. What a gift that is.
But to say that during all this change and challenge I haven’t wanted to write and haven’t experienced profound thoughts and feelings would not do my experiences justice.
So I want to turn to another experience, one that happened 200 years ago this spring. Whether you are a member of my same faith, a departed member, an adherent to another faith, or one whose belief system doesn’t tend to leave space for visions, take a life-giving breath and allow space for some new thoughts.
Let me begin by saying that the earth has a purpose. I think of her as the most powerful mother in the universe. She has a capacity to give and nurture life even if it leaves her desolate. We have pushed those limits many times.
In order to make room for our growth and development, she acts as a silent witness to heartbreak. How many parents have wished they could prevent their child’s suffering? Like a mother who cannot take away her child’s pain, the earth watches the suffering we both cause and endure. Her heart breaks with each tear we shed and loss we sustain.*
And she allows it because she loves us. Because we have worth and power beyond anything we can imagine.
Not only do we have the capacity to create and sustain life, we have the capacity to make choices, to elevate and improve ourselves, and to let go of our natural inclinations for self-preservation.
We have the capacity to recognize and experience love.
Like any development, this process takes time. Time for development in all facets of life: physical, environmental, geographic, interpersonal, technological, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and so on.
But time is the constant. Even though it feels like time speeds up and slows down depending on our circumstances, it keeps the same pace. The amount of time our earth needs to finish her work is going to literally take as long as it takes.
If you have ever been awaiting the birth of your child, you may know the feeling of wondering if it will ever happen even though you know the process is typically quite strenuous and painful.
It is my belief that our earth has been experiencing accelerated development within her womb–the leaps in technology, religious and secular thought, art, music, physical health, healing practices, sexual understanding, social justice, attempts at ideal government, addressing poverty, and so on because it all needs to reach a kind of critical mass where we have done all we can do and are looking for a savior to take us that last stretch–to bring about the world that this earth envisions for us.
But she cannot give to us what we are not ready to receive.
Please read the account of Joseph Smith (or watch) as he reaches a critical mass in his own young mind and, after exhausting his efforts, realizes that turning to God in humble prayer could make all the difference. That moment two hundred years ago was as critical in the earth’s purpose as the birth of Jesus Christ was.
Without it, we would not have the heightened understanding that we have today. Even if the Gospel of Jesus Christ is administered in ways or has policies within its church organization that are painful or confusing for you, the truth His church provides is matchless. And it is available to be examined in every aspect of your life and by whatever means you find worthy. It is for everyone, and we need you.
In contrast to this spirit of inclusion, I have read and heard many comments among members of my faith that would suggest a kind of religious superiority. While I believe that the time of Christ’s return to earth–the Second Coming–is drawing near, relatively speaking, I do not believe that we are more deserving than others to feel prepared. In a message of hope to Church members, President Russell M. Nelson, reminds us that faithfully living the Gospel brings blessings and that we are here to help our neighbors, wherever they may be. Being in a position to serve others is one of the reasons we need to be prepared.**
I have also noted comments by a few church members that certain classes of people–based on political party, stance on a particular issue, or church membership–are the sheep who will be separated from the goats. In reading beyond the verses about the sheep and goats, I discovered what the “sheep” did to inherit the kingdom of God. It was not their classification in the animal kingdom–or any other label–that prepared them for God’s greatest blessings.
It was what they did when facing the hurt, sorrow, pain, deprivation, and hunger of another. Their hearts were righteous–aligned with God’s expectations–and so he could sift out their hearts as none of us can do just by looking on the outward appearance.
When we are filled with God’s love, there is always enough. And as it turns out, where I thought I was short by fourteen posts, I remembered my family blog, where I have 28 posts. My debt became a two-fold increase when I let my vision open to more than just what I wanted in the moment.
If you are asking whether we’re there yet, ask yourself, “Am I there yet?”
Are you ready to see the purpose and power of this earth, of your life, of your God? Is it scary to wonder if you are enough?
Welcome to the beginning of enough. We are almost there.
[I love this hymn and always wondered why it was called a Battle Hymn. Without looking up its history, I decided that it is fitting because we need to be armed with faith as we face our fears in these trying times. It is a battle that we live through moment-to-moment, and with the help we have because of God’s love for us, we can see in the midst of travail the glory of the coming of the Lord.]
*Edited 05.21.2020 from original: How many parents have wished they could prevent their child’s suffering? The earth watches all that befalls nature and all that those with autonomy inflict upon their mother earth and upon their fellow beings.
**Edited 05.21,2020 from original: In contrast to this spirit of inclusion, I have read and heard many comments among members of my faith that the time of Christ’s return to earth–the Second Coming–must be drawing near because of how much we have been led and prepared by our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, to face the uncertainties and challenges we face right now. Some have gloried quite a bit in this privileged position we hold. And while I am extremely grateful for this inspired guidance, it doesn’t make me more valued than anyone else.