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
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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

 

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“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.

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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

“The Devil’s Advocate”: A History

So I’m in Law School now, which means that I pay more attention to lawyery things than usual. And with the recent canonization of Mother Teresa this last Sunday, I got to thinking about one of the more interesting, law-related Catholic expressions that has slipped into everyday usage.

I’m talking about being “the devil’s advocate” – you know, like when you argue for a different side of an issue just because, or when you don’t agree with something but you speak for it anyway: that’s being the devil’s advocate.

It’s one of those marvelously clear expressions: you don’t like the devil, but you’ll advocate for him. Straight-forward. Makes sense.

What does this have to do with Mother Teresa, you say? Well, did you know that “the Devil’s Advocate” was originally (and still is) a title used in the process of Catholic canonization, of making saints? Continue reading

Trunkiness: A Treatise

5cde4e85b6d2e00cb8694c0c1340b5beSo my workaholic sister Lauren, the excellent missionary (whom I affectionately call “Leaux” since she is serving in France), recently became concerned that, with the end of her mission looming large and thoughts of home working their way through her brain, she would become every missionary’s worst nightmare – *dun dun dun* – TRUNKY.

She expressed her worries to me in one of her emails home and asked for advice. I decided to get a little creative with my response…. Continue reading

Chocolate Made Me Cry

“Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get.”
– Forrest Gump

Last month was super stressful, I’m not going to lie.

I had been working on paper after paper, assignment after assignment with no downtime for 3 weeks straight. I was losing sleep over all that I had to do – the whole thing was a nightmare.

Ophelia.jpg

I feel ya Ophelia.

All the strain culminated on a particular Wednesday when I had my big Shakespeare presentation – a presentation that was freaking me out on for the several days preceding (it was on Hamlet, which I am sure was half the problem right there: not a happy play).

I had good stuff, I was just worried about pulling it all together. Working on it late into the night for a few nights in a row, I could hardly do anything else without dread following me everywhere like an attention-starved puppydog. I even prayed to Heavenly Father that if only ONE THING were to work out the next day, please let it be the presentation. Everything else could go wrong, but please let the presentation go well. Continue reading

In Response to a Question

Morgoth

Sometimes evil is a little overwhelming

(I recently received a comment on my post Tuor, Gondolin, and Our Life Mission that said the following:)

Hi there!
An interesting application to our life..I am christian as well and I have been quite big fan of Tolkien earlier when I was younger..than I just thought..all these stories are really great and well written and catchy but somehow dark or tragic..dont you think? I mean the life of Tuor is an exception i guess but …

– Sam

(My reply got a little long…so here is my open response to Sam – )

Hey Sam, thanks for the comment! I have been thinking about the question you posed, and here are some of my thoughts:

It’s true that Tolkien wrote many stories that contain lots of tragedy. I mean, he really puts his characters through the ringer:

  • Frodo never really recovers
  • Theoden’s son dies (and then he dies)
  • Turin’s life is basically a study of how much one dude can suffer
  • And literally everything bad happens to Elrond (ask me about it sometime)

Grander events in Middle Earth are also tragic: the elves are in decline and leaving Middle Earth, the great stories of the past are being forgotten, grand cities and nations and peoples are destroyed. Evil empires wage war against peace-loving peoples.

Evil seems to win a lot.

tolkien.jpg

This guy…

I don’t think this was just Tolkien being ~dark~ and ~brooding~. I think he did this on purpose. Life is often very tragic, no matter how you look at it. Sam, you’re a Christian – just look at the lives of Christ and His Apostles! Bad things happen all the time to good and bad people. This is no secret. This is something humanity has been dealing with since before Day 1.

BUT (and this is a big but) – that’s not all that is going on. Evil is not the only force at work. Continue reading