Friday, May 28, 2010

"The Art of Journaling" as learned from Nephi

I haven't written in a while. Not a long while, granted, yet I have felt the separation from myself and the written word quite keenly. A plane seems to be flying low over Antelope Island. I can see it because I have the great pleasure of sitting on my deck, which although technically is in the backyard has a fantastic view over all of North Ogden, clear down to the Island. A few cars may drive by in the course of my morning, but all in all it is just me the birds and the breeze.

We have four lilac bushes now. Our garden has begun growing. Soon we will have a harvest of radishes, corn, salad greens, peas and green peppers as well as other veggies. We have spearmint growing the shadow of the main house and hornets trying to build a home in the eave of the playhouse. What a wonderful life!

The children have been sick. Rivulet has been sick for nearly two weeks, Lemur caught his just in time to miss the last three - and most fun - days of school. Summer is approaching, as is evidenced by being able to take Rivulet outside in the rain around midnight last night. It was not too cold, and just wet enough to wake her out of her bad dream stupor.

I have pictures that document all the things and events that have happened over the past few weeks, but I have few words. Perhaps it is the opinion of some that I have a good deal too many words. I noted something in my journal the other night, "I wish I wasn't so tired; so I could record some thoughts and not just events." I felt - and still do - that I and my children might be missing something having a record of events only.

In reading Nephi over the past few weeks, I have had my mind opened up in refreshing ways. I have taken for granted that I know the stories backwards and forwards and in fact have taught the stories, sometimes to my teachers. How glorious the chance to learn that there is more to learn!

Such as the event of Nephi coming to retrieve the plates from Laban. The final time, when Laban was passed out from drinking and lying alone, unconscious in the street and Nephi just happened upon him - something else took place. Nephi was instructed to do something that went against his then-current understanding. Did he do it? Not at first. He - in effect - spoke to the Spirit, and the Spirit spoke back. He "shrank away" from the deed. The Spirit offered more information, knowing that the law forbade the action he was now prompted to take. And then! Nephi, constrained by the Holy Spirit, employed reason. He opened his mind and the Spirit guided his thoughts that Nephi and the Spirit could be on the same page.

And how is that applicable to us?

Reading further, I get to the part where Lehi is murmuring in the wilderness and Nephi - after Nephi's bow had broken. LEHI was murmuring. The prophet!! And it was his child that called him - by action and word - to humility where he regained his footing as the patriarch of the family. I don't ever remember knowing that Lehi had murmurings. It spoke to me of difficulties ANY parent may have in their lives, and how we as their children can be comfort to them by living the truth at all times. Being a witness of God, showing our own faith can help even the people who taught us in the first place. Of course, here I was thinking of my Mom. A perfect example is the experience we had last summer changing the Shakespeare. There came a time - which I recorded in great detail - that Mom went kaput. I stepped in, and then stepped back out when she - for lack of a better term - came to her senses. Doesn't it make Nephi and Lehi more real to know they experienced this dynamic as well? It does to me.

Last week in RS, we were discussing how we could maintain our spirituality as we "grew up." It is no easy thing, quite honestly. Once we hit a high, we rest on it assuming the high is solid. I'm pretty sure it's more of an eternal escalator than a mountain. Once we reach the top of a mountain - you're there. But an escalator that is always going down, while we are striving to climb up; that seems to fit better. The world being the escalator, and each of our steps being the desire and action to rise above. Holding still will actually bring us down.

Now, for most of us, we have a solid foundation - a place we may never pass below. The problem is, I have met so many who believe either that a solid foundation is all you need or that there is actually a place you reach where you can never ascend above! That is not what the scriptures have taught us, so why do we embrace it?

To shake things up, I set aside my old scriptures: the Book of Mormon I had received at my baptism at the age of 8, the BOM I had used all through seminary and Institute and marked with all manner of pencils, markers, pens and personal notations. I set that aside an opened a new copy of the BoM, one I had bought when Muad'Dib and I were first married, and began to read the BoM as if for the first time.

And that's exactly what it feels like. Other bits of knowledge and learning that I have acquired over the past ten years are like a different lens to read the words through. I read the account of the Tree of Life much differently than before. I hear the voice of Nephi in my head with age appropriate timbre so clear it is disconcerting. I see similarities not only in spiritual understanding but in social settings.

And through it all runs a testimony of journal keeping. From Nephi to Moroni and Mormon, I am led to realize that their advice their words, were truly meant for our time. They knew it when they were writing it. And it was when reading Chapter 6 that I wondered whether what I was writing about was of worth: "Wherefore, I give a commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men."

Writing the Book of Sayyadina began with my first journal at the age of 10. I have since filled over ten journals and countless other computer documents, random notebooks and scraps of paper tossed into a folder. No doubt, my words need an editor just as badly as those prophets of old; particularly because not all that I have written was intelligent by any strain of the imagination.

But I will say that throughout my journaling, I have taken opportunity to write guidences of the Spirit, and testimonies of the Gospel. Such things were the basic principals that occupied the entries of King Benjamin, Nephi, Jacob, Enos and others. I have the advantage of only needing to make a record of myself and an accounting of my actions in my day. Well, and perhaps a record of my children until they can themselves take up the pen. I hope that my testimonies may someday be of worth to someone. I know, on occasion, they have at least been of worth to me. And maybe that is all that matters.


DreamPacker said...

You could be a Woman's conference speaker...maybe you will be someday. Wow, such insights. Go..Sayya.

Fedaykin said...

"Make no heroes,' my father said." -Ghanima.

I've pondered Lehi's murmurings, and have been impressed that Nephi still respected him as the patriarch in asking where to go for food. (Humble pie, Lehi, ouch!)

Lehi to me is one of the most demystified prophets. He hadn't been a prophet for years and years before he led his family out of Jerusalem. Just a great guy who had a vision, then was called to call the people to repentance. He, to me represents Moses' heart felt exclaimation, "would God that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!" Lehi provides us a look at the process of that wish.

Desertbound said...

They are of great worth to me, Sayy. Someday is here:)

Sayyadina said...

@DB: stop making me cry! :)

CowboyBob said...

Love your post. In reference to your escalator: I believe our adventure is progression. I don't think there ever is a summit, an end, or a final destination. It is the growth that matters, not so much where we are. I do believe in the Law of Eternal Progression, not just figuratively. Thanks for sharing your heart.