Friday, February 05, 2010

Seeing Angels

I love Elder Holland. He's eloquent and masterful with the English language, is 100% charming and speaks with conviction. When General Conference rolls around every six months, he is the one that I hope doesn't get asked to speak in the priesthood conference because I don't want to miss a word. If we're allowed favorites, he is definitely mine.

That being said, I have been trying to think about my blessings this week within this reference frame:

"But God knew the challenges [Adam and Eve] would face, and He certainly knew how lonely and troubled they would sometimes feel. So He watched over His mortal family constantly, heard their prayers always, and sent prophets (and later apostles) to teach, counsel, and guide them. But in times of special need, He sent angels, divine messengers, to bless His children, reassure them that heaven was always very close and that His help was always very near. ...Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times....I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Ministry of Angels," go here for the complete text)

I think I often don't consciously recognize where my blessings are coming from. Sure, I've been a prayer my whole life. Each night as I close the day and climb into bed, I thank God for my blessings and for the hardships. I plead for help. I ask for blessings for those that I love. I pray about where I know I am hopelessly falling short. I ask for hope. I ask for faith. But so often, when something wonderful happens, I think I fail to acknowledge it, in that moment, as something beautifully divine. But I've been thinking about that this week.

This has been the fruit.
Like almost everyone else right now, our financial situation has been strapped. Someone showed up at my house with several bags of groceries. (I was totally shocked.) And, as if that wasn't enough already, a whole box of baby wipes from Costco because she knew I needed them. And later that evening when I was thinking about it, I thought of this talk and I thought about her being a flesh-and-blood angel for me.

I have thought and thought about this woman over the past couple of months. I still can't quite swallow the fact that she's not here to have a face-to-face conversation with every time we talk about it. Yesterday I was picking something up from my aunt's house and she told me to come and pick out a necklace and earrings from my Grams' jewelry that was laid out. I chose a super long necklace of pearls -- a classic -- that look as though they've ambered through the years. And some small white earrings -- almost like pearls, but a different stone. After we got home, one of my three-year-olds said to me, "Grandma Vera's beautiful." And I said, "Yes, she is." And he responded with, "Ya, and she's cute and soft."

She IS cute and soft and beautiful -- one of the wamest people I've been blessed to know. Someone who had the ability to make you feel loved and appreciated, who clucked over you and blessed you with her admiration. Her strength of character, vitality, example and convictions have blessed my life and continue to give me direction and peace. I find myself thinking about her all the time and conversations I want to tell her about. Like yesterday. That is just the sort of thing that I would have called to tell her. And we liked to talk about books that we loved or movies we'd seen. I've also been reading her life story that she wrote and have found questions that I wish I could talk to her about. One thing is certain -- she is part of me and part of how I look at the world and part of what is beautiful and eternal and good. I love her so. She is an angel.

And I have thought about this woman, over and over, since her passing almost two years ago. She was a blessing that fell straight into my lap. She loved me without me even trying to do anything and she was just pure love. Sometimes I miss her so much. I miss the way we used to talk like 16-year-old girlfriends, I miss the laughter, the way she would crack up over anything remotely funny. The way she loved everything feminine, the way she was always fabulous in whatever she was wearing (you should have seen her jewelry and makeup alone -- she was fabulous -- like this). The way she loved fiercely and protectively and felt things deeply and shared her convictions and every detail of every story so you could really understand. She is a mother heart, sensitive, kind and lovely.

And I'm simply inspired by this legacy of women inspiring women -- of direct guidance and ministering of angels that I've seen because of them. (See this post of my sister's -- to-die-for-writing and she captures the idea so magnificently.) They don't die -- they go on, through my hands and the hands of others who have been blessed by their love.

I'm also grateful for Scott and my kids. I am a perfectionist -- I expect a lot of myself and a lot of those I love, and sometimes I know that makes me difficult to live with. It is something I am trying to work on -- to recognize what really matters and what really doesn't. But in the meantime, I am grateful for the angels that put up with me. Sometimes I think it is easy to point out what someone else is doing that is wrong (of course it's wrong 'cause it's driving you crazy, right???). Or, sometimes I can just be critical because I think something should be done differently. But I am grateful for those humbling moments when you realize that someone else is also having to give you those same kind of breaks -- things about you that aren't perfect, that are frustrating, and they handle it with such grace. Scott does that with me, and it is truly angelic and a fundamental blessing in my life that goes overlooked too often.
And my kids. I am a pathetically imperfect mother. But can I tell you how much it means to me to have children that are forgiving and loving and patient with me, and that have let me experience the elation and joy and frustration of being a mother? It means the world. I hope, when all is said and done and above all else, they will know they have been the joy of my life -- that this thing called family has been such a price worth paying. They are angels.

And lastly, when I was out running the other day, I was debating which route I was going to take for home. I don't generally like to run on busy streets --- I prefer to escape into the quiet. So I wasn't too keen on running down our main drag here in town. But then I realized that if I went up to that street, I could take just a moment and look at the river...and I had to go that way. To have a sort of Frostian desire to get out into the untouched world. Needing that wildness and beauty -- even if it is in the confines of suburbia -- though you can hardly call the small town I live in a suburbia. But you know what I mean. Seeing that river refreshes me and connects me back to something innate and beckoning.

And it made me grateful for a small sign that love is in the world, that folks seen and unseen are blessing and making more beautiful this small piece of earth I call home.

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