Friday, October 29, 2010

Sacrament Hymns

I have been studying the atonement for my scripture study for the last little while, and this week I've felt like I should be singing hymns about the atonement each day to enhance my study. So as I have been singing these songs, I have noticed a pattern, one that I had never really realized before, because not often do you sing songs about the atonement (ie mostly the typical sacrament hymns) all together. You usually get one a week, and there is a lot else to focus on, like the importance of the coming ordinance, a time to reflect on the past week, and lots of other worthy things, so analysis of the hymns is not usually something that occupies my mind during that time.

As I have been singing these songs one after another, though, I have begun to realize something. It came, because I was thinking, "Man this is some dreary music for some really hopeful words," as I was singing something, which I don't remember which hymn it was. But then I thought, well of course it makes sense, sacramental music should be penitent, and a lot of it is repentant, but almost always, the last verse is these hopeful and beautiful words, full of promise and brightness, which I think I never noticed before, because it seemed to just fit with the rest, and get sung that way, and so I never noticed it.

But as I have been singing, I have felt the power of those verses, and they make me smile, and feel joyful, and as I sing them, they don't sound the same; they have that feel they should have, that matches the words, even though the music is the same. It's like I feel like I am finally singing it the right way.

So for all my LDS readers out there, next time you sing a sacrament song, try to find that beauty and hope and love in that last verse, and sing to match it, and find the true joy that comes from that, but more appropriately from the source of all hope and joy and love, which is Christ, through his atonement. Because that is what we sing about.

How glorious!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A quilt as a metaphor for life

I wish I had pictures to accompany this post, but they were just taken this morning, and I left New York, and did not bring pictures with me. I am sure I will get them within the next few days, but this is more about the process than anything else, so I guess the pictures don't matter so much.

This quilt I just finished has had so many pitfalls, and because I was making it for someone else, and not for myself, I had to overcome my inclination to give up. I made the center the first time, and then the back fabric bled, and so I had to scrap that one, buy new fabric, and do the whole thing again. Sewed the blocks all together, and it was super super huge, so had to take off a row of blocks, which i had to unpick them all, and then also re-sew part of the other blocks. And all of these things are obstacles that would have stopped me up, probably from ever finishing a project. I have so many unfinished projects, that I just got to a point where I was too frustrated, it seemed like it would never work, so I gave up.

It has been interesting seeing how the option of giving up being taken away has taught me that so much more is possible than I would have thought, and I can do a lot more than I once gave myself credit for.

But the real analogy that I have been thinking about is something that happened Friday night. My mom left to go work at the temple, and I was there with George (the quilting machine), quilting the quilt. The tension had some problems, and it being my first experience with George, I did not really know how to fix it, so I went along as best I could. I got the center piece finished, and started on the easy pieces, and was getting a decent amount done, feeling like I was closer to being on schedule. Then my mom came home, and started unpicking all of this work I had done, because there were these problems on the back.

I went to bed angry, and woke up deflated, to see almost all of my work taken out. It was not until today that I understood why. With the quilt finished, we took it to the quilt guild, and then we held it up, hanging over this bannister, so my mom could take pictures of it. Then my mom came over and took the side I was holding, and sent me over to see my quilt. It was stunning, absolutely beautiful. Then they turned it around, and I looked at the back, and it was gorgeous. This was a work of art, on both sides, through and through. This was perfection, insomuch as it was possible for this quilt.

My mom and I talked about Saturday morning, because she had spent a lot of time taking this work out, feeling like she had done me this great favor, and was wondering why I was not thanking her for it, and why I seemed to be in a bad mood. Once I told her how I felt about it, she understood a bit more.

But I think there is an important lesson I learned from this, and it was one I did not learn until I saw that quilt hanging in its final form. I wonder how many times Heavenly Father sends us a blessing, something to help us, to take us back from the point we were at, to re-try something, so that this time we can get it right. And we get upset and angry, and he probably feels a bit curious, as to why we are so upset, though he knows, but still must think we are being foolish, because it is for our good. Because he sees the finished masterpiece of our lives and self before we do. We get caught up in the details, in the worry of day to day living, and he is worried about bringing us to that level of perfection.

I think what looking at this project, seeing its beauty and perfection really taught me was that perfection comes through an imperfect process. So many times I have given up on things, because I have made a mistake, or I have messed something up, and it seems beyond repair, or not worth the effort. But the mistakes, the hitches, the problems, they are all just a part of the process. The inferior center flowers, and the thread that is in the trash lays by the wayside, but this quilt lays in its new home, hopefully wrapped up around its new owner, fulfilling the purpose of its creation.

I hope I can do that for my creator.

And thanks again mom.