The Last Goodbye

tag

My tag on our fridge

Let me explain to you what happened in the evening of June 21, 2016, exactly one year ago.

I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours. The three flights of the day had made me feel slightly queasy. The slice of celebratory Round Table pizza I had eaten hadn’t helped either. My hair was dusty and crunchy from caked-on dry shampoo and my sweaty face was painted with a fresh coat of makeup – more than I had ever worn in the prior 18 months. I had forgotten what blush felt like.

My legs twitched and bounced as we waited in the foyer of the church building. I wasn’t sure if my on-edge emotions were the result of fatigue or from what I knew was about to happen. To ease the tension, I clung to the broken strap of my leather shoulder bag that I hadn’t set down since I got off the plane. I kept looking down at the left side of my chest, admiring the way the light glinted off my black badge.

I entered the stake president’s office first, alone. President asked me about my mission, where I had served, the whole bit. Despite having recounted this chronology many times, I stumbled to find the words in English and had to apologize when French words slipped out. When he ran out of questions, President recited some speech about transitioning home and gave me a little, laminated card with some scriptural advice. The card is still hanging on my bulletin board — I can see the verse from my desk:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding…

Then my family came in. More advice given. More praise for serving honorably. I can’t say I remember everything that they said. But I remember clearly what happened next. Abruptly and without any pomp or ceremony, the stake president asked my mom to stand up and remove my missionary tag from my shirt.

I had been prepared for this. One heart-wrenching, tender moment and I would no longer be a missionary. I knew how other missionaries had reacted in the past. I had witnessed my mom remove Ashley’s tag and my sister’s cool response, like she was a new person.

But when my mom removed the tag from my blouse, it hit me… hard.

I didn’t want it to be over. I wanted to go back to the people, the language, the schedule, the companions, the scriptures, the Spirit. But my time as a missionary was finished.

I had thought that I was going to be calm like my sister, but I was wrong. The second my mother cradled my tag in her hands, I started sobbing and I couldn’t stop. My breathing became jagged. I tried to regain composure to save face in front of the stake presidency, but it was too late. Every face in the small office stared in pity at the sleep-deprived woman in a stretched-out, stained skirt as she went through 3 packs of tissues wiping tears and the fresh coat of makeup off her face. I was a wreck.

I tried to contain my tears as we went back out to the car. I managed to hold back the waterworks until I shut the door of my sister’s PT Cruiser. Seeing my distress, Ashley thought it would be a great idea to play me the credits song of the Hobbit movie I had missed while I was on my mission.

“And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But I don’t regret
Nor will I forget
All who took the road with me”

The words only echoed what I was feeling.

I entered our home with swollen eyes and a streaked face. After going through some memorabilia, my parents sent me to bed. I shed many more tears as I lay on my mattress that night and for many nights after that.

Even after 12 months, my eyes still occasionally sting when I go to bed at night. Transitioning has not been easy for me like it was for my sister. For months all I wanted to do was return to the mission field where I had purpose and fulfillment. Out here, I felt lost, even while knowing the language and the people.

Don’t get me wrong – being reunited with my family has brought me so much joy. But I still miss my mission sometimes. If the fog of melancholy hangs over my head and I question my purpose, I remember the scripture that my stake president gave me – to trust.

Trust in the Lord. 

Makes me smile. If I learned anything in 18 months, it was that I could rely on the Lord. He guided my feet to my mission, and He will guide my feet ever after.

To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell”

“The Last Goodbye” – Billy Boyd

Who Owns the One Ring?: A Legal Inquiry

the-one-ringOne day a few months back, I was scrolling through Tumblr, and I came across this delightful post by user simaethae:

so on the subject of stolen property, i’ve seen various arguments on this point but it is in fact true that inheriting something from a relative, when you know full well that it was stolen, does not make it yours.

this clearly goes doubly so for powerful magical artifacts, and especially for artifacts which are strongly implied to contain part of their creator’s soul!

you can talk about consequences – maybe the artifact in question has benefits for you, maybe you’re not convinced its rightful owners would use it responsibly – but talking about the consequences doesn’t erase the fact that whatever benefits you think you’re getting are achieved through wrongful means.

which is why i, too, think Frodo should have given the One Ring back to Sauron. thief.

sauron

Sucks to be you, dude.

Which prompted me, a law student and Lord of the Rings fanatic preparing for a Property exam, to ask myself…does Sauron even own that Ring anymore?

The short answer: No.

Here is my pedantic and completely unasked-for analysis (cross-posted from my Tumblr blog) — Continue reading

The Winter’s Tale: A Paradox of a Play

 

winter's tale.jpg

 

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” – Anne Bradstreet

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” – Ernst Fischer

Shakespeare wrote some really bizarre stuff in his lifetime, but The Winter’s Tale out-weirds most of the roster.

europe-map-colour-printable.jpg

Did Shakespeare even have a map?

Like, for one thing, it’s somehow a bleak and snowy winter in the normally sunny-central, Mediterranean island of Sicily. Meanwhile nestled far to the north between Germany and Poland is the unexpected land of sunshine, flowers, and summery-silliness…Bohemia.

 

Which apparently has a coastline no one knew about…because all maps clearly indicate how unfortunately landlocked the country is.

As if manipulated geography and climate zones weren’t enough, a statue comes to life, a man is eaten by a bear, and a people rise from the dead.

What in the world is going on here?

In the vernacular, a “winter’s tale” is an absurd story of enchantment and faraway places told to fight off cold and dark days of snow and ice. A fairy tale. So in calling his play by such a title, Shakespeare was signaling to all of us that this was a story not to be taken seriously in details; but the greater themes of the story aim at something larger, and act to stave off the darkness and cold. Continue reading

My Weird Project: Women of the Scriptures Blog Series

Prepare yourselves:  A series of posts about women in the scriptures and the Young Women values! But first, a bit of explanation…

mary-magdalene-saw-jesus-1103329-galleryBeing the ~feminist~ that I am, I love to read stories about my fellow ladies in our religious canon. Knowing this, my grandma gave me some cheesy women-in-the-scriptures baseball cards for my birthday. Each card bore one of the Young Women values [click here to know more about these values] and had a picture of a woman from the scriptures who exemplified the said value. To my own surprise, I took an interest in these cards and found myself deeply analyzing each one. Do I know why? Nope, still don’t. But these cards both fascinated and bothered me.

Things that I noted: For one, I thought it was cool that they found so many scriptural women (I mean, from what I knew, there weren’t that many). However, there was one thing that irked me (other than the quirky drawings on them – those things were weird, man) – the value designated for each woman. Some of them were great, but others just didn’t fit. I mean, who the heck are “The Women in the Wilderness”? And where in heaven’s name is Eve?! I stewed for weeks about these dumb LDS novelty cards. Then I decided I could take no more. I wanted to correct the mistakes made on these tiny pieces of cardstock – I needed to set the record straight.

My task: to search the scriptures and make my own list of women for each Young Women’s value, gosh darnit.

So I read, and I googled, and I searched. In the process, I found this AMAZING website called Women in the Scriptures that I highly recommend – check it out if you have a few minutes. This site really helped me formulate a good list.

In my research, I discovered a couple things.
1) My presumption that there were more applicable women to the YW values was correct but
2) There are SO MANY MORE women than I thought. Holy cannoli. I found that I could not narrow down my list to one-person-per-value. I cheated and made it two-people-per-value. Hope you don’t mind.

Now, after searching  f o r e v e r , I thought that I would share with you the results. Click any of the values listed below to read what I have found! (and don’t worry, Eve is there.)

FAITH
DIVINE NATURE
INDIVIDUAL WORTH
KNOWLEDGE
CHOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
GOOD WORKS
INTEGRITY
VIRTUE

 

 

 

Women of the Scriptures: Good Works

ruthRuth   Ruth 1

The classic Old Testament tale of service. When all the men in her family died and she had no means to support her daughters-in-law, Naomi told Orpah and Ruth to leave her so they could have a chance to remarry. Orpah tearfully left, but Ruth, seeing that Naomi would have no means to take care of herself, decided to stay. Ruth knew that this would mean that she would likely never remarry. She knew she would live in squalor for the rest of her life. She knew that she would be shunned by society for being a Moabitess. But she stayed anyway because she loved Naomi. And as we see later in her story, Ruth is immensely blessed for her act of kindness and charity. God will do the same for us. Perhaps he won’t send us a knight in shining armor, but He will reward us for serving His children.  

 

rahab5Rahab   Joshua 2, James 2:25

Talk about a dramatic story. You are living a less-than-respectable life to support your family. An infamous wandering nation is closing in on the city and two spies decide to stop by your house. You could turn them in and save your own skin, or you could hide them and help them. What a predicament. But Rahab knew that these were good men and that some Supreme Being was with them and their people. Even though there would be dire consequences if she were caught (and she almost was, they knew she had spies in her home), she helped the Jews achieve victory over Jericho. She is a great example to modern-day women of courage and compassion, and also that no matter our background, we can still do the work of the Lord.

Women of the Scriptures: Divine Nature

adam-eve-angel-rane-1339141-galleryEve   Moses 5:11, Genesis 1:26-27

Eve does not get nearly as much credit as she deserves. The whole eating the apple thing, yeah I get it. But here is the thing: She was created in the image of God, she was the culminating act of creation, and she was filled with the desire to live up to her divine potential. Living in the glorious presence of God on a daily basis, Eve likely wanted what every child wants: to become like her Parents. One of the main points in Satan’s pitch was that in eating the fruit Eve would become wise like unto her Father. I don’t think Eve partook of the fruit out of stupidity or rebellion – I think she ate the fruit so that she could become wise like her Father. Though she was instrumental in the fall of man from God’s presence, Eve exemplifies humanity’s innate connection to our Heavenly Father in that each one of us, male and female, was created in His likeness. Because of her, we each possess yet another spark of divinity within us: agency and knowledge. Thanks to Eve, we now have the ability to grow and choose for ourselves to follow our Savior and become more like Him.

 

mary-joseph-nativity-art-lds-191342-galleryMary   Luke 1:28, 46-55

Mary the mother of Jesus is one of the most beloved Biblical figures. What we can glean from her story is that she was a thoughtful, faithful, devoted, and virtuous young woman, and therefore highly favored of the Lord. Of all young women, God chose her to be the vessel through which the Son of God would enter the world. Mary, among her many other qualities, exemplifies the divine power that all women innately possess – the power to create. She brought into the world the One who would make it possible for each of us to harness and achieve our divine identity – our Savior. She also demonstrates how we – as imperfect and lowly as we are – can be molded and shaped by celestial hands to magnify the great potential that lies within us.

Women of the Scriptures: Knowledge

woman-holding-book-candle-rane-183369-galleryHuldah   2 Chronicles 34

Now here is an obscure figure for you. In the Old Testament, King Josiah found some troubling prophecies in scripture and was desperate to have them interpreted. So his servants sought out the prophetess, Huldah. She read the scriptures and explained them to the king, adding in further inspiration that she received from the Lord. What makes her story so cool, other than the fact that the King sought out the help of a woman to educate him on the meaning of scripture, is that she used the gifts of intelligence that God had given her and then relied on the Lord for further guidance. When we seek knowledge, we should follow the pattern set forth by Huldah: use our gifts, but do not forget from whom those gifts come.

 

farewell_my_stripling_warriorMothers of the Stripling Warriors   Alma 56:45-48, 57:21

This group of women was not always righteous. They used to be part of a fallen and ruthless people. But when the gospel entered their lives thanks to the missionary work of Ammon and his brothers, these women forsook their sins and lived the teachings of Christ. They treasured the light they had received and made sure they taught their children everything they knew. So great were their teachings and examples that their sons were exactly obedient and had iron-clad faith in God which led them to victory. The mothers of the stripling warriors valued the knowledge of Christ and made sure that their children grew up in and were strengthened by that knowledge. May we treasure the knowledge we have and then spread that knowledge to benefit those around us.