Monday, February 04, 2019

Did I just read that?

"Investigators later determined that two toddler-aged children were inside the suspect during the shooting but were not injured. Police said neither Martinez nor Pacheco were the parent or guardian of the children. "

Uh....not sure how that works.

https://www.9news.com/article/news/crime/dpd-2-kids-were-inside-car-when-federal-agent-shot-man-woman/73-7bdd7b28-7cc4-42dd-8579-4d279f6830a5

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Yet another post on feminism

I know I write about feminism kind of a lot. Off an on. 

The reason I write about it so often is I feel immense pressure to be a feminist (ALL acceptable women are feminists, apparently), but at the same time, I feel an immensely strong gut reaction telling me feminism is not healthy for women. But the logic and spoken aims of feminism are very compelling, and some of the problems they are addressing are very real and need to be addressed.

So I feel conflicted, and I write to try to address that conflict, to resolve it and help myself understand why I can't be a feminist of any stripe despite the social pressure and the work that needs to be done.

Before I say anything else, I do know that I'm oversimplifying by using the word "feminism" and that there are many kinds of feminism (and I actually am not opposed to all of them.) I also know that there are many problems that women face that need to be fixed. And I also am saying right up front that I know many excellent feminists that this absolutely does not apply to.

Here's my latest bullet list of reasons feminism is making me uncomfortable, based on my own observations. (I add that because feminists are incredibly aggressive--to the point of cruelty--at defending their positions, and whenever I post stuff like this, they come out to tell me that my observations are wrong and mean and destroying women because feminism is the only path to success for women. So I'm saying up front: These are my own personal observations from my own personal life. They in no way are blanket claims of always truths, but they also are the things I've seen over and over and am making judgments based on--and that's probably unfair but it's my reality. And the fact that I have to put this in here should tell you something about why I can't embrace being a feminist.) So, my list:

• Despite protests to the contrary, feminism publicly is still often anti-man, anxious to belittle and condemn men and deny the masculine nature in order to elevate women. I don't think this helps anyone.
• Feminists still use men as their "measuring stick" of what is success and where we are aiming to be. I don't see any way to succeed if we make men the measuring stick because we are not men and never will be, so we will never quite measure up. It puts women in an inherently inferior position, and it forces women to deny their nature in order to succeed. This harms women rather than helping them.
• Feminism often belittles women for intelligently making the best choice they can for their own lives, claiming that if they don't decide to conform to some money-based evaluation of "success," they were manipulated by society and couldn't possibly be making these choices of their own free will. That actually makes it harder for women to be what they want to be, not easier. (You can see this in the pressure women have put on them to not choose a caring profession, to choose a science or math major even if they really love history, etc.)
• Feminism makes faith and having a relationship with our Father in Heaven noticeably more difficult for women. For some reason, Feminists often seem to have an automatic distrust of the motives of every man, and not of women. Consequently, they find it hard to trust and act on instruction from God. I have a hard time embracing anything that makes faith harder and more complicated, and that interferes with women's ability to form trusting relationships with God and Jesus.
• Feminists are often obsessed with power and who has it, to the detriment of understanding and interacting with their world. This is a very narrow way of looking at the world--very reductionist--that does not tend to show a whole and fair picture. It is, absolutely, one piece of a big puzzle. But it's a mistake to say you understand the whole puzzle completely based on observing one piece, or even a cluster of pieces.
• Feminism distorts thinking, and in a way that leads to greater unhappiness in life and a limited ability to interact with society in a way that will actually make changes to things that hurt women. Feminism is not a paradigm through which to view the world if you want high life satisfaction. It pushes finding offense and power imbalance in every single thing you see--but only if you are on the lower side of the imbalance (never if you have more power, and especially never if you are misusing it). There are other distortions to the thinking as well.
• Feminism elevates women to a more perfect status that they actually have right to claim (with claims like, "If women were the bishops, nobody would ever be offended in church" that are patently untrue and also ridiculous), elevating themselves to ridiculous and foolish heights, while simultaneously laying claim on and denying the existence of feminine traits.  (This is really part of the distorted thinking, isn't it?) On the one hand, they say there are no inherently feminine traits but it's all social constructs, and on the other, they restructure school to take advantage of the way women think and work to the detriment of boys. All while saying we need to act more like men to succeed. (The danger of saying there are no inherently gendered traits is that in doing so, they are accepting male-ness as the default and denying female-ness exists at all.)
• Feminism not only ignores but denies that sometimes women have a role in their "problems." (For example, sometimes women bear the burden of the "thinking work" in a household because they are so sure only women can do it right that they actually refuse to let men carry that burden at all out of certainty that the men will do it wrong. And then they complain that the men aren't carrying the burden. Or, in a less negative light, sometimes women make less money than men in the same jobs because they women put higher priority on family time and refused to make the family sacrifices that put them in the top positions at work, eligible for the top raises. So they make less money, but it's a direct result of the good choices they made.)
• The sociocultural demands that feminists have put on women in the name of "freedom" have made it harder for women to embrace and enjoy motherhood (especially of raising many children) and do it well. The only valid contribution to society is measured in dollars and cents and positions at work. That's just a shame, and its wrong, too. Anyone can make money. Only women can mother. (Men can contribute, but they father--which is also vital. Just different.)
• Feminists don't understand what women actually are and what will make them eternally happy in the greatest senses. (Really, only God can know that for anyone, so it's not their fault.) But, despite this lack of knowledge, they work very hard to not only define but enforce a single right "path" to life satisfaction that they not only offer but demand that all women walk. They deny they do this, but actions and social pressure speaks louder than words.
• Feminism is essentially inward-looking. But God has asked us to spend our lives looking outward, not inward: serving others, loving others, using our talents to build His kingdom, having charity, etc. Humility is impossible if our entire paradigm is inward. The nature of feminism is in opposition to the nature of "Forget yourself and get to work." Feminism is often selfish and rooted in pride, and that is not a path to anything good.
• So much of feminism is whining and complaining, indulging in anger and celebrating being bitchy and obnoxious. I'm not interested in those things. That's not who I want to be, and that's not what I want to spend my time or energy on.
• Feminist approach to problem solving is counterproductive. It practically forces people to dig in their heels and defend their position rather than productively leading everyone to greater understanding and change. This is weird because the much-maligned "Feminine Nature" is actually supposed to be good at gently leading people along to change and understanding, but feminists are particularly bad at this, coming across as rude, selfish, obnoxious, and aggressive instead of as a safe way to learn and change and fix problems. (For example, complaining, having mean letter-writing campaigns, and protesting against the Brethren is far, far less likely to cause change than simply asking the questions. "Why don't women do _____?" is way way more effective than "Women Must be allowed to do _____!")
• Feminism leads to a particularly narrow view of the world. It thrives in and loves the echo chamber. For example, any time there is a change they hoped for, they think, "We did this! It's because of our voices!" without even a thought for, say, the global nature of the Church, the fact that there are other voices that were speaking out in more effective ways, that God had something in mind, etc. 
• In acknowledging that there is pain and unfairness in the world, feminism seems to reinforce and rejoice in it. It comes across as the ultimate "girls crying in the bathroom" clique that ever existed, and seems to love the victimhood more than the possibility of healing. And in trying to hear and love the victim, they often are cruel to those who were not hurt.

And now that this is written, I'm always afraid to post these because of the inevitable backlash. No-one is more capable of being cruel and needling to the heart of a woman than an angry feminist. No-one has more "need" somehow to lash out and address every slight and every insult than an angry feminist.  And feminism teaches women to see hurt and be angry all the time. Feminism, in practice, is often the glorification of the bitch. And I have been treated cruelly so many times by feminists that I'm afraid to even post this, anticipating backlash (and for some reason they feel compelled to attack, not just brush it off and think, "She's wrong. I'll just go on with my life and ignore it."). But I want myself and my kids to understand why I can't join in, so here it is. Again. (I write about this stuff SOOO much!)


Ultimately this is my bottom line: Throughout my life, I've had times where I looked at a group of women (returned sister missionaries and mothers of many children come to mind right off the bat) and saw characteristics I wanted to have. I found myself saying, "I want to be like them," and I knew I had to embrace the same experiences and ideals they had in order to gain the benefits they had that I wanted. There is no other way to get the deep, calm, wise patience of being a mother of many children than by mothering many children (whether they are your own birthed children or others you mother). There is no other way to get that particular kind of confidence and class that returned sister missionaries have than by going on a mission. When I look at feminism and the women it produces, I don't think, "Gosh, I want to be just like that!" In fact, I often think, "Oh my! I hope I'm not like that!" That gives me very little incentive to embrace feminism.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Did I just read that?

Following this stunning non-sequitur: "However, 400 years later, scientists now believe that they could bring the dodo back to life through cloning of some of its closest living relatives. Scientists recently published a paper which identified the overall genomic structure of dinosaurs."
...we get this quote (I hope mis-quote) from scientists identifying passenger pigeons as dinosaurs, and being excited that birds and non-avian dinosaurs have a lot of chromosomes (because someone thought they didn't?!):
'University of Kent scientists Darren Griffin and Rebecca O’Connor wrote in an article for The Conversation: “We discovered that birds and most non-avian dinosaurs had a lot of chromosomes (packages of DNA). Having so many allows animals to generate variation, the driver of natural selection. Nevertheless, and it is a long shot, it may be possible in future to use Jurassic Park technology to help undo some of the harm that humans have caused. Mankind has seen the extinction of well-known avian dinosaurs such as the dodo and the passenger pigeon."'
https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/971538/cloning-news-dodo-dinosaur-extinct-clone-latest-university-of-kent

Friday, November 16, 2018

Did I just read that?

There is so much wrong with this article that we laughed all the way through.

https://www.foxnews.com/science/a-gurgling-mud-pool-is-creeping-across-southern-california-like-a-geologic-poltergeist

Start with the simile in the headline (uh--what kind of comparison is that?! Did this person know what a poltergeist is?), and go downhill from there.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Commas Matter.

A couple of things I found while pondering punctuation in the scriptures.
1. "...people, who are of the House of Israel," means something different from "...people who are of the House of Israel." I believe based on the context that the first is used but the latter was intended. (This is just one example where the phrase appears: "...the work of the Father shall commence in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel." The comma would indicate He has no other people but the house of Israel, which flies in the face of the doctrine that all of mankind are God's children. Leaving the comma out indicates we are talking about a specific group of God's children with whom he made specific covenants, but leaves open the possibility that He has other children with whom He has also made specific covenants that are not addressed in this verse. We have wars (literally) over this idea--that God only has one people and which is it--and it's all cleared up by properly punctuating.)
and 2. "touch upon them as much as it were possible for Christ’s sake" means something different than "touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake." When I realized it was the latter that was actually used in the scripture, I laughed. The comma turned a perfectly acceptable phrase into a swear, and we've been reading it that way for a hundred years. Oops!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

My Latest Project

One of my most boring and ultimately most valuable classes in college was the senior seminar I took with Royal Skousen doing an analysis of the Book of Mormon text, comparing what's in the printed edition with the handwritten versions.

Some things I learned:

* There were two handwritten editions of the Book of Mormon: the original and a copy of the original they made to take to the printer, not wanting to lose the only copy. The original copy went into the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House, which leaked water and damaged parts and destroyed parts. The Church now owns most of the parts, but a few are in private hands. The printer's copy we have, but it does have a few copying errors.

* The Book of Mormon, as organized by Mormon, had chapter breaks and a few chapter/section headings built in, but they do NOT match the most recent edition's chapter breaks. At some point, someone (I want to say Orson Pratt, but I'm not sure) who had authority broke the Book of Mormon into chapters and verses to match the Bible more closely and make it easier to refer to specific parts, make notes, and study. He also added chapter headings. Later, footnotes were added. The most recent (2013) edition of the Book of Mormon made an attempt to clarify which chapter headings were original and which were added.

*The original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon has the original chapter breaks and no verse numbers. It is MUCH easier to read without all the "noise" added to make the Book easier to study. But the 1830 edition has errors in it, many of which Joseph Smith himself went through and fixed for the second edition. The errors in the 1830 edition were of two sorts: copying errors and formatting errors. Most of the copying errors came from the difficulty in reading a handwritten text with nonstandard spelling (so we get things like "wickedness" being replaced with "woundedness" in one verse and "Lamb" replaced with "Lord" in another; and thanks to the spelling issues, on the last line of the Book of Mormon we still have no idea if it originally--when Moroni wrote it--said, "wholly without spot" or "holy, without spot."  Fortunately, they mean the same in context so it doesn't matter.)

* The formatting errors in the Book of Mormon came from a peculiarity of the production process. The handwritten manuscript transcribed while Joseph translated did not include punctuation or paragraphing. The chapters breaks were marked with the word "Chapter" but no chapter numbers. New and difficult words (especially names) Joseph spelled out letter by letter (we know this because a phonetic spelling was crossed out and followed by a corrected spelling in the manuscript), but other words were not spelled out by Joseph and are spelled phonetically and nonstandardly on a regular basis, reflecting their dialect (so you get things like "genealogy" spelled in a way that reveals Joseph pronounced it like most people in southern Utah still do).  Sometimes, the person taking the dictation forgot the correct spelling and went back to the phonetic spelling. Usually that was caught and corrected, but the name Pahoran is still spelled incorrectly, even in the 2013 edition (the original manuscript on the first appearance of that name spelled it out as Parhoran.) Anyway, paragraphing and punctuation were not revealed but instead were inserted later, primarily by the printer, EB Grandin. And he did a terrible job, breaking single sentences into different paragraphs and making the whole document a commastorm.



So it's that last part that has bothered me for years.

I find the official study edition very, very difficult to read because of the formatting. Single sentences are broken into different verses. Paragraphing is nonexistent. People read it like they do poetry, with little pauses at the ends of lines instead of where the meaning breaks. For years now, when I wanted to just read the Book and not cross-reference and footnote and mark it, I've turned to my trusty 1830 replica edition. I can't just read the study edition that is the official edition. It's just about impossible for me to get through because of the formatting, chapter breaks, etc. I mean, the original chapter breaks were put in by the original authors, and if you read them you find that they are thematically organized. The new chapter breaks actually obscure this layer of meaning that was put in by the original ancient authors (which breaks this author's heart!).

For years I've longed for an 1830-style format with the 2013 corrections of the errors introduced by Grandin (and by the printer's manuscript), and with updated formatting and punctuation because Grandin did just a dismally awful job with those.

When President Nelson made his request in conference that the sisters read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, I knew I couldn't succeed unless I had my 1830 replica edition so I could read fast and easily. And it was packed. So I prayed for help finding it, and then I stood up and surveyed the room. One box stood out to me, and I opened it up and there on top was my 1830 replica! So out it came, and I started reading with a pencil in hand to start marking, as President Nelson requested, the parts that mentioned the Savior.

But reading with pencil in hand totally put me in editor mode, and I found myself horrified and distracted by the awful punctuation of the 1830 edition. Commas everywhere, without rhyme or reason. It was unreadable with a pencil in hand because my copyeditor instincts took over and I found myself marking the thing up--copyediting.  I checked the 1981 edition I use for studying and found that the Church has corrected a lot of Grandin's punctuation storm, but it looks like they still relied mostly on what he did to punctuate. A lot of it is still not correct according to the rules of punctuation.

So....I looked up the copyright permissions on the website, and it says you can use the church materials for personal use. So I downloaded a copy of the Book of Mormon--just the text of the 2013 edition, so it's the most updated and corrected text, and I prayed and asked Heavenly Father if I could make myself a copy of the Book of Mormon in the format I want to read, with the non-revealed parts fixed, and the text left untouched. I got a resounding YES! answer to my prayer, so I set to work.

I've basically said to myself, "If I were in Grandin's spot, how would I have done this?" My rule is that I can't change anything that was revealed to Joseph Smith (no word changes, no shuffling paragraphs, etc.), but anything anyone else added to the text is fair game (line breaks, paragraph breaks, punctuation, chapter headings, false chapter breaks, etc).

First thing to go was the new chapters and verses. I went back to the original chapter breaks, and I'm putting in normal paragraphing. And finally, I'm doing a complete re-punctuation of the entire text. Everything else I'm faithfully, religiously sticking with what the original authors wrote. Just redoing the formatting to make it easier to read. So far I've finished all of First Nephi. I wish I'd found a way to keep the footnotes, but my computer would not process the formatting of footnotes. (I'm using Google Chrome Docs instead of Libre Office, so my formatting options are sorely limited.)

And, lo and behold, it's SO Much easier to read without all the bad punctuation. The Book of Mormon text says it's plain and simple to read, and I've never found it completely simple. But it turns out a lot of that is the punctuation being in all the wrong places, so your brain pauses where it shouldn't, obscuring the meaning.

In doing this, I've engaged in the meaning of the Book of Mormon in ways I never have before.  I've learned things and internalized and understood things that I missed before. And I've discovered some linguistic "forms" that are used throughout the text that are kind of fun. And I've really finally felt the clarity and simpleness and plainness that Nephi said he gloried in, and that we buried in a flood of commas and semicolons that mostly marked the end of lines instead of segments of meaning. It's quite delightful.  I can't wait to get to the rest of the Book!

I think when I'm all done, I'll find a way to print a copy for myself so that finally I will have an edition of the Book of Mormon that is easy to read to myself and easy to read aloud to my children. That would make me very, very happy indeed.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Sometimes we run to aid, sometimes we stand as a beacon

I had an experience recently that has ended up being very important to me, and I wanted to share it. The easiest way is to just cut-and-paste from my journal. So here you have it, from my entry on September 26, 2018:

On Tuesday, we drove an hour to Great Sand Dunes National Park. I had prepared myself for something like the sand dunes we went to when I was a kid. I was not prepared for what it really was: a two-mile-high, 30-square-mile mountain of sand, accessible only by hiking across nearly three-quarter mile of relatively level but overly soft sand that in the spring is covered with shallow water but was dry this time of year.

We checked out the visitor’s center and then sunscreened up to go play in the sand, in the pounding sun. The edges of the flat section had small, scruffy trees, but the dunes themselves were Sahara-bare. So Tim and the kids set off toward the dunes, and Emmy and I trailed along behind, the sand hot and sneeping into our sandals. It was really hard walking, like on a beach, and we got about a third of the way to the dunes before we were both done. Emmy said she didn’t want to jump on the sand anyway, and I didn’t, so we turned around. Immediately, I spotted a shady spot beside a fire pit, away from where most of the people were coming into the area, but on a hillside in the shade. So we turned back and went there.

I had deliberately worn a bright neon pink shirt so the kids could spot me in a crowd, and it ended up being a good thing. Tim realized we didn’t make it, and he jogged back across the dunes and found us just fine because of my shirt. We told him we were going to stay right there in the shade and play. He went back to the other kids, and they played a while and then Nathanael trotted back to us, spotting my bright pink shirt and making a very straight line right to me. Then Tim brought Elijah and Jack back. We dug down to the wet sand not far under the surface and made sand castles. Soon all the kids and Tim were back again.

So we went off to find a place to fill all our 10 gallons of empty water jugs and have a picnic, and finally settled on an empty group camp site. I filled the jugs first, while Tim set up a picnic, and it was a good thing I did because not long after I had them all stowed away, a volunteer camp ranger came and kicked us out of that site because it was for camping, not picnicking (never mind that nobody was there and nobody was going to be there). We had done what we needed that part of the park for, so we picked up and asked where we were allowed to picnic, and then we left.

By then, the wind had picked up and dark clouds had blown in. There was a tiny trinkling of rain, but not much, and the kids wanted to play in the sand again. Caleb and Anda and Tim were done. But Nathanael, Elijah, Benji, Dan, and Jack wanted to hike back to the dunes and try a sled we’d found abandoned by the garbage cans.

It didn’t work.

But it wasn’t hot anymore, so I followed the boys across the flat to the dunes because I figured Jack would get tired and want to come back right away, and I could walk him back. Emmeline had on a bright pink jacket and she and Tim were playing in our same spot from earlier in the day. I could just see her, a bright pink speck in the distance, but I knew I could find them from that bright pink speck. It was surprising, standing up on the dunes with the boys, that the spot we were playing in was far to the right of where most people were going, and it didn’t look “right”. But I knew it was right because I could see Emmy’s bright pink jacket bobbing along. She was doing was I had done earlier with my bright pink shirt--acting as a beacon to show me the right way to go. She was so very tiny that she was easy to miss--it was easy to look the wrong direction, and I had to really choose to search for the little pinprick of pink. But once I found her, I could focus on her little bobbing dot and move toward it. She was a “beacon”--but she was just a point of pink. Hard to see. But not impossible. So that’s where my family was, and the van, and rest and shelter.

Pretty soon, a vicious wind picked up. It was so strong that a crow trying to fly into the wind was blown the other way and finally had to turn around and fly where the wind willed. The boys had abandoned the sled, so I was holding its rope and I’d filled it with cast-off shoes. Once the sun was obscured by the storm clouds, the sand was no longer burning hot, and so the shoes came off. Even filled with the shoes, the wind picked the sled up and tried to whip it from my hands. The sand blasted Nathanael’s bare legs (he was in shorts, and I in jeans). It was so hard he would turn his back on the wind and curl up inside his coat until the gust passed. Jack would crouch in his coat, too, and Daniel (such a saint), would immediately drop down behind Jack and lay on his side, making an effective wall against the wind to protect Jack. Nathanael quickly got weary of sandblasting, and he and I decided to head back. Jack wanted to stay, so I let him. Dan promised not to lose him, so Nat and I headed back toward the big kids and Tim, following Emmy’s bobbing pink dot to know where to go.

We had to wait for the wind to soften a bit, or Nathanael couldn’t walk for all the sandblasting his shins were getting. But we made it, sled and shoes in tow. I looked back at our track when we arrived at Tim and the big kids and Emmy (ready to fall face first onto the sand and rest). It was very wobbly. We did not make a very straight line because the pull toward where everyone else was going was so strong. We kept drifting that way and then spotting Emmy’s pink jacket and correcting our path. She was a lighthouse for us.

The boys played on the dunes a while longer, and Tim made pictures with rocks in the sand while Anda used rocks to play a game of sand bocce and Caleb took pictures and audio recordings (he collects visual textures and random foley-like sounds). I sat beside Emmy and her sand castle and Nathanael sat on her other side and she and he kept building. And I talked to the big kids and Tim and kept my eyes on the dunes where I could not see the kids, but knew they were playing. I could just see little speck figures moving around, but not our kids. Eventually, the wind picked up again (it was cold!), and I saw the boys appear, one at a time. Elijah I recognized because he had his coat off and he was swinging it. Then he put it on and started trudging toward us. Behind him I saw Benji, who I could recognize by the flash of bright orange--his shirt--inside his coat. So I knew the figure beside him was Daniel. But no Jack?

I knew right away that Dan had to be carrying Jack. I had no doubt about it--I knew he wouldn’t have left Jack. But that trek was difficult with just walking myself across the three-quarters of a mile of sand. And Dan was carrying a heavy 5 year old, and battling the wind. I turned to Tim and said, “I’m going to take the sled back out there and drag Jack back. Dan’s carrying him.” I pointed out the kids and Tim said he should go--he could piggy back Jack back and it would be faster and easier. So he set off on a jog toward the kids.

Meanwhile, Elijah was battling the wind, head down, and he had veered off course. He wasn’t looking for me, and so he was heading too far to the left, to where most of the rest of the people were going. And then I could see he was to the left of that, even. He didn’t even realize he was heading astray. “Turn, Elijah, turn back….” I kept saying to him, but I didn’t even bother to shout. It was over half a mile away, and the wind carried my voice the wrong direction.

Anda, Caleb, Nathanael, and Emmeline headed for the van to get out of the wind. And I knew Tim was going to have to rescue three kids at once: Dan from the weight of Jack, Jack from being too little to go any further, and Elijah from getting lost. I started to fret--I was standing here doing nothing, while Tim was running across the sand and my boys were struggling. I saw Benji double back to try to help Dan, but it was too much. I started to pace, needing to help, but I was too far.

Then the thought popped into my head: Just stand still so they know where to go. That is helping. They need to see you. 

I threw my jacket wide so my bright pink shirt was visible from so far away, and I stood as still and tall as I could, being a beacon to them--the same lighthouse that Emmy had been for me.

Tim then caught sight of Elijah going the wrong way, and he diverted his course to catch the one who was going astray. He got Elijah back on track, and then he doubled back to Dan and Benji and relieved them of their burden of caring for the weakest of us. And I stood there, watching them all and knowing that I was helping by showing them where they were supposed to come to.

So I stood there, my pink shirt pointing the right away and helping them find the most direct route back through the blowing, shifting sands, and the Spirit whispered to me, “This is why we stand in holy places.” Tears flowed down my cheeks while I still stood, being the anchor and the beacon so that my little brood could get out of the painful sandblasting storms in the quickest, easiest way possible. My tears flowed and I pondered. I wanted to help, but this was a job for the priesthood. So I sent my priesthood holder out to fetch the one who was too weak to make it back, to strengthen the ones who were struggling to help, and to catch the one who was going astray before he was too lost to turn back. But then all of them--priesthood included--needed me to stand and show them where to go, and that someone was waiting to receive and comfort them and acknowledge their struggles and thank them for their sacrifices and love them and give them a refuge and a rest and food when they got back. We stand in holy places, I understood, to show others where they need to aim for, and because being the beacon helps them get there. We stand in holy places so the ones going astray can find the way back, and so the ones on their way but struggling have somewhere to look for comfort and hope and encouragement, and so they don’t get lost, too. I understood that sometimes we run out to rescue, and sometimes we stand still so everyone can find their way back. Especially when the pull of the wrong way is so strong.

When Elijah got within earshot, he said, “I was going the wrong way, but Dad told me and once I saw you, I knew where to come.” His track was very straight. I remembered earlier in the day when Nathanael had been the very first to trudge back through the heat to the sandy, shady shelter we’d found. I had marveled at what a straight line he made in coming to me. I asked him how he had found me, and he said, “Dad told me which direction to head, so I did and once I saw you there, it was easy.” I realize now that it was important for them to see me, but before they could see me they had to trust Tim and follow his instructions. This is so much what faith is, and what we are supposed to do. Nathanael couldn’t seem me at first, even though I could see him. The lay of the dunes obscured me. But he followed his father’s instructions perfectly and made a straight line until he could see, and then he could come right to me. Elijah spotted me from afar and came toward me, but the storms were too strong and the pull of the way most people were going was distracting, and once he couldn’t see me, he ended up going astray by accident. But his father saw that and redirected him, and he followed those instructions until he, too, could see, and he came to me.

It was all so amazingly laid out before me--the understanding that I was working even by holding still, and that sometimes you can barely see the indicators of the right way to go and you really have to cling to them because it’s just a prick of light instead of a bright beacon--to stay focused and tune out the distractions or you lose sight of the way, and of why we stand in holy places, and that sometimes we seek and sometimes we stand, and the idea that we follow the instructions first even when we can’t see and that eventually leads us to see so we can move forward more quickly and surely. And all of this is faith and the gospel.

We loaded up in the van and headed back, watching a gorgeous sunset as we drove.

*******

This has been important to me as I listened to General Conference. The prophet asked the women to step away from social media, which I was attempting to use to help people see issues that we need to act on. At first, I thought, "I can't leave people who need help! What about the immigrant children, and people who need more information on a topic, and people who need encouragement, and....and...and...." and the thought came to mind, "Sometimes we seek; sometimes we stand."