One Year Celebration

I woke up crying.

Seriously, I don’t know how much more I can cry!

I woke up crying, remembering the day of my baptism.

I remember waking up that day, seeing my white skirt and shirt hanging in the doorway, the morning sunlight dancing on the fabric.

I remember realizing, that for the first time, I was no longer afraid to do this.

I remember realizing, that there was some part of me that I did not yet understand, but that was clearly and significantly “waking up” inside of me.  I remember feeling that somehow my life had gone “tesseract”.  Remember that, from “A Wrinkle in Time”?

Do you remember the picture in the book?  In the book, she explains the concept like an ant walking on a string:

And then explains the “wrinkle in time” as if the ant kept walking, but you brought the two ends of the string together:

It was as if there was some part of me, from long ago, and some part of me on that day of baptism at opposite ends of a string.    The day I got baptized, it was as if those two points were brought together, creating a new timeline and leaving the mess I made of things hanging below in the loop that was “skipped”.  Now I think it was the atonement that just snipped off the loop all together.

And so the last year has been about learning to walk straight across, and not try to go back down on the loop – which is why it is so danger to “look back”, for because the atonement snipped the loop off!  Which means I would fall, and then I would be a very squashed ant.

It took me all year to realize the loop had been snipped off, that it was done and settled and I could just “move forward”, and to start doing so without fear.

And now, this morning, I woke remembering the day of my baptism.  I remember the smell of the air, and how the sun shone so bright.  I remember how nervous I was, as if my whole body was vibrating.  I remember how every person that shook my hand shot power into me, like a one-up on old-school Mario.  I remember how their smiles and hugs melted me, strengthened me, comforted me.

I remember where I parked at TOES, and which cars were already there.

I remember having my pile of little thank you notes I wanted to deliver, but was scared I wouldn’t get the right ones to the right people because I didn’t know anyone’s names.

I remember the tender look on President Merckley’s face, and the smile his wife gave me, and how I in that moment, I was no longer nervous.  I was ready.

I remember thinking it was weird people wanted to take pictures of me and Jon in our jumpsuits, but how later I was glad they did.

I remember where we all sat in the room, and I remember being in awe that so many people would come to my baptism when they didn’t even know me.  I remember realizing that for nine months, they had been my friends, and that it was their love that had brought me to that day.  Now I cry again to look back in the last year, and the moments we have shared, and the love I feel for every person who was in the room that day.

I remember how Cassie cried when she gave her talk, and I remember the words she said.

I remember my feet being cold while I waited through the talks to go back to the bathroom to step into the font.

I remember being much relieved to feel the warm water when I walked into the font.

I remember being terrified and not knowing how to be baptized (this was before a year’s worth of a gazabillion baptisms every week at the Temple!  HA!), but how the moment I felt Jon’s hand reach up and help me down the stairs, that I knew it was like dance, and if I just “followed”, it would be okay.

I remember where everyone stood on the other side of the glass, and where each child sat.

I remember how Sherrolyn kneeled next to me, on the other side of the glass, to terp that moment to be sure I did not miss anything.

I remember them telling me at the last minute that if I didn’t go all the way under, they would have to do it again… and hoping that Jon didn’t try to drown me just to be sure.

I remember the feel of Jon’s hand on my back, and his gentle placing of my hands in position on his arm.

I remember the eternal moment just before he began, when it seemed I could not breathe.

I remember looking to Sherrolyn to see her terp Jon’s words, but only seeing the tears falling down her cheeks.

I remember something catching my eye, and for the first time standing in the baptism waters and looking up to see things I had never seen before.

I remember the moment, in slow-motion, when Jon’s hands began to move, one hand on my back, the other hand leading me like a dance to lean back and down.  I remember holding my nose, forgetting to close my eyes (there is always so much to see), and bending my knees.

I remember the moment underwater, the song I heard there, and the lights I saw as I was raised back up.

I remember the gasp of surprise and joy that came out of me, and how we all froze – even the children – for a moment that lasted longer than seconds.

I remember the power in that moment, the gift of that moment, the accomplishment of the Lord in that moment.

I remember how the tears came.

And this is how I woke this morning, with memories and tears, and full of love and progress.

I remember how we cried and laughed then, all at once, for we all felt it together, and it bonded us somehow.

I remember climbing out and freezing to death as I changed.  I remember Nedra’s testimony after I got back in there, and the songs we sang.  I remember seeing these people around the room that I had started so much to love, and how even in that morning it had filled me “beyond measure”, so that it was greater than the day before.

This is how I woke this morning, remembering these moments.

And as I reflect on them, I see how the progress of the last year – by the Lord’s atonement and the working of the Spirit – really was very tesseract-ish.  My baptism created me anew, and the progress of the last year pushed me through time, so that I am really living such a very different lifetime than I was two years ago.  So completely different.

And as I packed the car this morning, ready to leave for my week at the Temple, I realized how this week was another example of how well Heavenly Father loves me, and how specifically He knows me: every year of my adult life, I have taken a week’s retreat in the fall.  I have stayed at monasteries all over, on silent retreats each year…. so to me, this gift of a week at the Temple is more significant and personal even than doing the Temple work for my family… but that’s another blog, which I am sure will come.

But I also realized, in my silly nerdy head, how my endowment is so very tesseract-ish as well, excepting physically.  Geometrically, I mean.

It came to me, and I had to dig out my old chemistry books to find what I was looking for, and then dig out my Physics and Calculus books, but I found it… the tesseract:

The fully drawn 3D picture of a tesseract, not of the literary sort, but same concept she simplified, is actually a square inside a square that moves forward by folding in on itself.

The movement actually makes a circle of sorts, as it folds, and reminds me of the Temple gates and the square and the circle of where the Earth and Heaven meet.  It reminds me of Jesus saying in the New Testament how we are like dough, and watching my grandmother knead the dough.  It makes me see how the Lord is kneading me, creating me to be something tasty that will feed others and bring them joy.

If I let him.

And if you want to see the circle, here is what it looks like if you just look at the path it follows in that progress, rather than seeing the 3D animation of how it moves… here you can see how it makes the circle-ish pattern, and thus is a circle inside a square:

And what is fascinating about that in this context?

What does it remind you of?

Yes!  Da Vinci’s man-drawing, excepting I used this funny jeans-commercial graphic because that way the man had pants on.  For because I get endowed tomorrow, so even if it is Da Vinci, I can’t be blogging people without pants.

But do you see?

How amazing is that?!  I mean, AMAZING!

I know that my endowment is about more than children’s stories and playtime in math and science books or classic art discussion.  I do know that, really.  Except also, it kinda is.  So I do not mean to describe this day in a way that is disrespectful or flippant.  I just mean to say, that in my silly nerdy head, the Lord did “make sense of it” for me this morning, in a way that connects premortality to getting baptized, through this entire year (the progress forward of the small box, made possible by the atonement-covering of the large box that then folds over itself and into itself, so that the divine-box becomes the Emily-box) to my endowment tomorrow night.

It was just a tiny way, in my silly Emily World, that the Lord did show me mathematically how my endowment and the progress of keeping covenants does actually, literally change me in a process that continues always, with each “moving forward” causing more of His divine nature to be folded into me – but how there is always more.

Do you see?

Anyway.  For me, it was a delightful morning of amazement.

And so the last year officially has met with the beginning of a new year.

Never again will December 31st hold the same power as does September 27 for me!

For the last year, my theme song has been this one… please, if you have time, take the time to listen:

And what has delighted me in the last few months, besides really getting to HEAR it digitally with my new matrix-machine in my head, is that it is about the Temple!  I wonder if the guy singing it knows this?  He will someday!

Praise the Mount, I’m fixed upon it; Mount of Thy redeeming Love

Hello!  Temple Reference!  How exciting is that?!

Here I raise my Ebenezer, Here by Thy great help I’ve come.

Do you know what Ebenezer is?  The song explains it in that next line, “Here by Thy great help I’ve come”.  It is a monument, a Temple of sorts, that Samuel the Prophet set up because the bad guys wouldn’t leave him alone even though he did nothing wrong. You can read about it HERE in 1 Samuel 7.

And know why I love Samuel?  Because of this (1 Samuel 3):

The Lord calls Samuel—House of Eli not purged by sacrifices and offerings—Samuel recognized as a prophet by all Israel—The Lord appears to him.

1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

  2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

  3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;

  4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

  5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.

  6 And the Lord called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.

  7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.

  8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child.

  9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

  10 And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

  11 ¶ And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.

  12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.

  13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

  14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

  15 ¶ And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.

  16 Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.

  17 And he said, What is the thing that the Lord hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.

  18 And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good.

  19 ¶ And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

  20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord.

  21 And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
There are other reasons I love Samuel, but I have loved him always, from the beginning, for those words and what the both taught me and prepared me for since I was a child.  I needed that preparation, for I am stubborn and obstinate and maybe would not have paid attention when I needed to, and without that moment – even in the waters of baptism one year ago – I would not have had the experiences of the last year that, just like everything else, were built “line upon line, knowledge upon knowledge, revelation upon revelation”.
So I love that this Temple song talks about Samuel!  It is so special to me!
And I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home
This is what connected for me the whole doctrine about premortality and eternal families and Temples and all those pieces that were so new to me!  It was playing this song that finally made it click!  It was catching that phrase, and going “Ooooohhhhh!”, and then rewinding through all I had been taught and studying it again now that I understood.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God
How better to describe my pre-baptism world, and even all He rescued me from before I ever got to the nine months to prepare for baptism?
He to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood
The atonement! Yes!  But this was my beginning of the line-upon-line that began to teach me how it was progressive, and how it was not just for all the bad things I had done, but to protect me and to progress me, that there was more to it than just baptism day.
The last verse describes my experience of the last year, of realizing what my baptism meant, of continuing to make changes, of immersing myself in the gospel, of humbling myself, of being overwhelmed with gratitude because I know that it was not for me any other way possible to be rescued:
O to grace, how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love….
But but but!  And then! It was only about a month ago that I caught the meaning of the last phrase!

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
WHOA!  This is an example of the tiny, simple things it took me all year to learn, but how profound it was once it came.  This moment of breakthrough with the last line of this song was SO powerful to me, and a precious experience I will never forget.
And so that has been my theme song of the year, so much that I burned it on CD with only that one song, and play it over and over and over – for months now.
Until yesterday.
This fascinates me.
I assumed that when I drove to my brother’s yesterday, or to the Temple today, that it would be this song I listened to anytime I was not working my way through all the BYU talks I could find!  Except it wasn’t.
My iPod had a weird skip – it ran out of power, and I plugged it in, and it rebooted itself (bad English of how to say that, but I think you understand) – and when it came back on, it was playing a different song.
It was so weird!
Except as I moved to change it, the song slammed into my heart.
You know heart-slamming is done by the Spirit, so I knew to pay attention.
And this is what started me crying yesterday.
I don’t even fully understand why yet, but I think it is my new song.
So, if anyone is still reading, I wanted to share it with you, because it made me cry for two hours all the way to my brother’s house yesterday, and then all through the entire fasting day to prepare for my endowment and to practice loving and celebrating my family, and so I think it is important.  Vital, even.
I could not find it on YouTube, so you will have to CLICK HERE TO LISTEN (free).  Please, please do if you have time.  It is amazing.  Please, please, click to listen to it (it is free and no pop-up windows or anything).  The first song I wrote about (Come Thou Font), you probably already know.  Maybe you know this one, too, but I have just discovered it.  It is soooooo good, and it is the space to where the Lord has moved me, and what started all my crying yesterday.  So really, it would be worth it – I promise PROMISE – if you have time to listen to it.
I don’t know why it is so powerful yet, other than of course I know my life is really the Lord’s – but there are layers and layers to this song, and it is where the Lord has sent me, so I wanted to share.  It makes me WEEP.  I know there is more.  There is always more.  I see the layers starting, and I know it will unfold.
But clearly, it is the song of the week, if not my new song-of-the-year.  So.  It’s a big deal in Emily World, and I wanted to share.  So take the time to listen, and enjoy!
It is the song I will be listening to as I drive to the Oklahoma City this morning.
Here are the lyrics:

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise

Take my hand and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love

Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee

Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only for my King
And take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee

Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use
Every power Thou shall choose

And I give everything to You
And I give everything to You

Take my will and make it Thine
It shall be no longer mine
Take my heart, it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne

Take my love, my Lord I pour
At Thy feet, it’s treasure store
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only all for Thee

And I give everything to You
And I give everything to You
I give everything to You
Oh, I give everything to You

Take myself and I will be
Ever, only all for Thee

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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