Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Yoke

In Matthew 11 the Savior makes an invitation to us:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I've heard this set of verses explained I don't know how many times, and all of those teachers said about the same thing: If you cast your burdens on the wagon the Lord is pulling and join Him at the yoke then you will have an easier load, as He is much stronger.
As I read those words a similar yet different interpretation comes to me, and I thought I should share it.
You see, perhaps I'm an aberration, but I've never found the yoke of living the gospel to be the heavy thing in my life. People talk about the struggle to remain worthy, to keep keeping the commandments through temptations, and my heart aches for them (not because I am any better than them, because I have my own short comings and sins) because for me it is different.
You see, when I have a load that is heavy, it's usually because it's a load that I've taken on myself. It's something that I have chosen to carry in spite of warnings or the direction of heaven. When I read those words, "Come unto me... and I will give you rest," I read them literally. Rest.
It doesn't say in those lines, "I will help you pull your load." Does it? Look again, it doesn't. It says we need to take HIS yoke, for HIS burden is light.
Think about it, what are the things that you absolutely must carry in life?

Are they your work? Or are they really God's work through you? Is your family not God's family? Does He not care for them more than you? Are your friends not God's own children also? Your work, is it how you earn a living, or is it something God has given you, a vehicle with which to do good for His children? Your money, is it yours? Your health, is that yours or is it the Lord's work that you help him in through obedience? Canst thou make one hair of thy head black or white?
You see, it is not your yoke, it is not your burden, it is the Lord's.
The keys to applying this is in those verses too:
Come unto Him
Learn of Him
Become like Him, meek and lowly in heart
Our Lord talks over and over about losing your life, for His sake. Perhaps He was speaking literally to his Apostles, who would eventually die for the name of Christ. Perhaps He was speaking to you and me. What life are you holding onto? What things are you not giving up? What hurt or anger are you poisoning yourself with?
Why do you refuse to forsake the yoke of bondage?
His yoke is easy, His burden is light. If you will forsake all else to take it up with Him you will find how EASY it really is, you will find how RESTFUL it really is. Come, learn, become like Him, take upon you this yoke, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why Words?

Why Words?

I wonder what it is
about the setting of the sun
that brings the pen to paper,
a new poem begun.

Why waits the flow of thoughts
 for three slumbering heads
and the calling of my bed?

Why now, when I’m resigned
to another day lost and gone
and I turn to take my rest
do I feel that yearning in my breast?

Like warriors reach for swords
I reach for keys or pen,
but then again,
no, I reach for words.

the intangible substance
with which inexpertly
I frame existence

the shadows of starlight
wrapped lazily around a single thought
as if with their gossamer tendrils
they could frame it, shape it, define its edges
and place it in the hands of another.

Nay, and ne; naam, and nein,
as if any guttural spewing
of the lips and tongue could express
even the memory
of the things I have felt,
the visions I have seen.

No, words will never do,
best cut them up and make Paper Mache
to patch and pat around the Milky Way,

they are little labels
that I stick-stick-stick
to folks and fables.

I cover the whole world
in pulp and pen,
and why do I do this
time and time again?

Because language,
words and rhyme,
is the closest man can get
to the expressions of the divine.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Desert

I can't tell you how many times I have read The Book of Mormon, I lost count at 16, and that was years ago. I could probably read it a hundred-thousand times more and still get something different out of it every time.

Right now I'm in the back, in Mormon, and yet my heart is still in First Nephi. I keep circling back to those few chapters in my mind, because that story has so much more meaning for me now.
You see, for those who haven't read it, in First Nephi we read the account of Nephi, a young man whose father just happens to be called of God as a Prophet. His father, Lehi, is a contemporary of Jeremiah and warns the people of Jerusalem to repent or Babylon is going to sack them.
Of course no one listens, in fact there are those who wish to kill Lehi. The Lord does not allow this and tells Lehi to flee, taking only what he and his family will need to survive. The Lord promises them a choice land for their inheritance, and leads them across the desert, across the sea, and to the Americas.

It's a lovely tale, one that has a lot of meaning for someone who was just lead thousands of miles from the place she called home. I have gained a lot from reading it and drawing parallels from my life to Nephi's life. I feel a special bond with him, especially as on at least one line of my family tree we are related.

What has really stuck out to me lately, something that I really didn't think about before, is that Nephi obeyed, and the blessings were not all immediate. Neither was his life a bed of roses after he uprooted it and moved across the world for The Lord. No, indeed, things were pretty hard for him at times and seasons right up to his dying day.

I think back to when he was in the desert with his family. Here he was, doing what The Lord ordered, and yet he and his family suffered hunger, thirst, fatigue, blistering sun, and bitterly cold desert nights. There was equipment failure, short tempers, outright abuse. Yet he just kept trusting in The Lord.

As I  travel in my own desert, feeling the heat, on the one hand I marvel at his patience and fortitude. On the other, I understand him all the more. I look at my trials, and hard and confusing as they are, they are so much better than what I escaped. I don't understand why I am being lead so far from my former life, but I trust the hand that is leading me. I keep encountering more and more problems on my journey, but... honestly at this point I don't know what else to do EXCEPT turn to The Lord.

He always provides. It hasn't been what I imagined (but let's face it I have an over-active imagination.) It hasn't been easy. However, it hasn't been terribly hard either. Really, it's like I hit my knees and God opens the way. I walk it and I'm fine.

It's humbling. Sometimes because I have to ask for and accept help when I've always been a do-it-myself-er. Other times it's humbling because I have to admit to people that I'm here because God brought me here, and all of this is out of my hands. The way it is most humbling though is that I am learning one agonizing moment at a time to be humble before The Lord. He knows so much better than I, He knows the path, He knew the end from the beginning, and me? I'm just the un-educated child He's trying to help. I know nothing, except that the failures are mine and the successes are His, and that I need Him if I am going to survive this desert.

I am so thankful for this desert. I'm thankful for the promise of inheritance on the other side of it, but today I'm just thankful that I'm going through all this, because I can feel Him with me, and this is the love I cannot, will not, live without.