Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pictures taken in the early(ish) morning, when the mosquitoes are out

I think I fed at least ten mosquitoes from this photo-run. Either that, or I was so delicious that some of them kept coming back for more.

The above is the sidewalk one walks down as one is going towards the library.

An this is along one of the paths behind the house. I finally got the flash to shut up when I figured out to use the "landscape" setting. The only problem with that is that my camera then wanted me to have a tripod. I compromised by steadying it on my knee or a nearby tree (don't remember which, for this shot). But-- isn't it lovely? Even if it is shakier than it would be if I'd had a tripod?

As I came up the rise and saw this view, I thought: this lamppost looks triumphant. Now why is that? And then I realized: it's because it is bathed in the glory of the rising sun, whilst all around it has yet to feel its rays.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I've had several people reassure me that I was a good influence in my friend's life, which is not at all bad, but at the same time, I want to cry out: "But she was a good influence in mine!"

I realized yesterday-- or perhaps it was the day before; my time sense has gone funny-- that I have a dual problem at the moment. Firstly, I have a friend who died in a violent way. And, secondly, the friend whom I would have visited with to debrief, the woman at whose kitchen table I would have sat and on whose shoulder I would have cried, whose fridge I would have raided and whom I would have asked for, and from whom I would have received, many, many hugs, is gone. She is not my Very Best Friend Of All time, and I really don't think she would have characterized me that way for her, either-- but she was like a sister to me, and in that way a wonderful, wonderful influence on my life. There is a part of my brain which does not comprehend the fact of her gone-ness yet, which refuses to believe. Yet surely there is a part of me which does understand, because I have cried some part of every day since Tuesday, and I spent basically all of Wednesday and Thursday moving at something like 1/4 speed and feeling really tired and numb. Numb, that is, except for the upset and anguish which was so huge that it got through anyway.

And now I am (mostly) back. I am determined to work as much as I can; I think that both body and soul heal better and more quickly when they are given the opportunity to work, so work is what I seek. Good work, that is to say; work which feels genuinely helpful to others. Curiously, one of the kindest things anyone has done for me so far was to call me up and ask if I could come over and help clean her children's rooms. She and I already have a warm relationship; I already hold her baby during the third hour of church sometimes. What this means is that it was very easy for me to pop on over, help the boy-child with room-cleaning, hold the baby to prevent Lego-consumption, and then believe her when she told me that I had been helpful that day.

And, just in case I haven't said it recently enough, to my family, to my friends: I love you. I am thankful to you. That last post-- if it hurts you in any way, just don't read it. I am surrounded by love, and I become more and more aware of this fact all the time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In praise of the not-completely-natural reaction to bad news

I also started this blog so that I could say the things I felt like saying, but which I didn't want to inflict on particular people without their permission. The thing is, a blog does not HAVE to be read. Which is my way of apologizing if the following post seems out of character or upsetting to you.

So. Without further ado.

I have a close friend who was killed on Tuesday. The police are charging a man (whom I have met, though only briefly) with her death. I do not feel at all like discussing the details, but I don't mind everyone else's knowing them. If you want to know what happened, email or call me and I'll tell you my friend's name so that you can find what you can on your own.

I apologize for grieving you. I do not-- I cannot-- I am trying very hard not to focus on the violence inherent in this situation, but almost every time I tell someone else, I get this very natural response of shock and horror, and I have to say that I have gotten very much more firmly on the side of Miss Manners and King Benjamin: a natural response is not the best.

What do these natural responses sound like? "Oh, my GOSH! HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?!" and "Are you sure it wasn't accidental?" (Yes, I am, and I'm also really sure that I don't want to explain why. I wasn't there, but I've heard enough of the police report to know that they have good reason to have that man in custody.) Also on my least-favorite list: "How are you? Are you OK?" I know I've said this one myself-- I've probably said all of these myself, and it isn't like I'm mad at the people who say these things, but it is true at the same time that I am discovering that they just aren't the greatest things to say.

Anyway, the problem with asking if someone is OK is that there does not exist a good answer to this question. For something this horrible, you can just assume that the answer is no: no, she probably isn't OK. It also doesn't really help her be more OK to keep having to figure out how to state her mental/emotional condition without overwhelming her listener (and possibly provoking more shouting, which was painful enough the first time around) while still being even remotely accurate. I have figured this one out, though: for a couple of days, I said either "I am sad,." or "I feel very sad," and now I'm saying "I'm OK," which is true at the moment.

And not-natural reactions? They are the ones where my interlocutor gently says something along the lines of, "Oh, I'm so very sorry." "Please tell me if I can do anything for you." "Call me if you need to talk." Or (only if it's accurate), "I had something like that happen to me once."

Monday, September 6, 2010

If You are Good

My calling in church right now is to be a ward missionary. Yesterday, what that meant is that I went to the home of a newly baptized member to help her learn more about our church.

We were teaching this young woman about, among other things, temple marriage. The gist of this part of the lesson is: temple marriage is a good thing, and you should do what you can to be married in the temple when that time comes. Then the woman who was helping me teach said something like, "If you are good, God will give you a husband so that you can be married in the temple."

The kind of funny(/horrible/deeply hilarious) thing about this is that I had written, not two nights earlier, about how tempting it is to wonder if I have somehow invisibly offended God (meaning, an offense invisible to me), and that THAT is why I am husband-less. On most days, and even most nights, I know that this must not be true, but it is easy on dark nights after lonely days to slip into the temptation of believing such a thing.

And yes: I did jump in almost before she had finished the sentence, correcting her. I explained that I had had chances to marry, outside of the temple, but I had chosen not to take them. I said that it is still worth it to wait, unmarried and faithful-- to me it is worth it. And afterward, outside, my teaching companion apologized for having been thoughtless.

I am still thinking about this. I do not depend on God in the way I would expect to depend on, say, a decent car. Or, worse, a slot machine with much-better-than-average odds. To me-- and here, I speak very personally-- God is a person, not a machine.  God is, furthermore, a person I trust. I will certainly mess up, because I am a person, and people do that; but the God whom I worship is always willing to forgive when I genuinely ask forgiveness. People-- good people, trustworthy people-- do give forgiveness when it is genuinely sought, and do not arbitrarily withhold good things from others because they are invisibly offended.

I believe that if some part of the "if you're good, then good things will happen to you" equation appears to be unfulfilled, it isn't because God is undependable, but because not enough time has passed. I also believe in the power of God to transform not only death to life, but suffering to empathy; and when one is in the midst of a life-long project to become like an infinitely loving and compassionate God, this looks like a very good deal indeed.