Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day on Temple Hill

My wife and children attended church services this morning. I wanted to attend out of respect for Mother's Day and to hear my children sing, but I didn't sleep until almost 8:00 this morning; I pulled another all-night fit of insomnia.

We had dinner with my wife's family at the home of Steve Merchant, her second oldest brother. Steve lives on a beautiful hillside near Mt. Spokane covered with Native American medicines and foods: sunflowers, brown camas, wild strawberries, and I'm sure many others. Steve's house sits on Temple Road; an appropriate name considering the presence of so many sacred plants. The entire hill is a temple; a mountain of Amotken, the Lord.

When we arrived, Dakota and I spent some bonding time learning about the plants and their various uses. I got to teach him a little about what I know, and he got to show me a fort he built with his cousins.

Rhonda and I watched an LDS film titled "The Work and the Glory;" about a fictional family who became aquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and converted to the early church. The film affected me in ways I did not anticipate. First, I was moved by the portrayal of conflict when family members hold differing beliefs and values; and second, I was moved by the portrayal of Joseph Smith and his spiritual calling. While I tend to disbelieve the literal and exclusionary version of Joseph's testimony, I nonetheless felt moved to reflect upon my own dreams, visions, and spiritual experiences. Joseph seemed to know the direction of his work somewhat early in adulthood, whereas I fail to understand what God wants me to do with spiritual information I receive. In spite of personal doubts and concerns, I took comfort in the title of the film. I resolved to accept God's will for my life, and to remember: whatever he may require of me is not my work and glory, but his.

We also visited grandma and grandpa great in their home on "Temple Hill." I deeply respect them for their kindness and generosity. Even as I distance myself from the LDS Church, grandma and grandpa great always treat me with utmost dignity and respect. Besides, Rhonda's grandparents are Mormons of impeccable character, and yet they embrace a much more compassionate and moderate philosophy than most conservative Mormons I know personally.

Grandpa showed me his war medals and told me about a brief encounter he had with General MacArthur in the Philippines. During the Second World War, grandpa operated a catepillar and helped build roads in areas occupied by the Allies. On one occasion, General MacArthur's jeep got stuck in the mud, and without a word, grandpa pulled it free. As the general drove away, he waved and said, "Thank you soldier." Grandpa says he would never want to fight another war, but he's proud of the work he did. As I listen to his words, I too feel pride for his service to this country.

I continue to experience withdrawal symptoms from my medication, but today was a beautiful experience.

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