Days of Peace

I am sitting curled up in my reading chair, with my laptop on my lap.  My room is dark except for the flicker of a candle, and the stormy winds blow a breeze through my open-just-a-crack-or-more windows.  I still have my cochlear implants on (shh! don’t tell!), so I can hear the wind, the tap-tap-tapping of the blinds, the tick-tock of my clock, and the clickety-clack of the keys as I type.  The air is cold on my skin, making burrow in further under my old favorite quilt that enshrouds me.  The light of the screen smiles at me, as if it knows the words I will type are already familiar before they appear.

It was a good day.  I slept well, woke slowly, and enjoyed my daily study.  I always roll out of bed, literally, straight to my knees first thing because I will forget to pray if I don’t do it first thing.  Then I play at the gym or run outside or try out a new trail or park.  This morning the weather made for a beautiful run beneath blue skies spotted with puffy white clouds, with a warm sun and a cool breeze.  Geese and ducks and crows and starlings greeted me in such disney-ish choreography that I couldn’t help but singing, and I was sure that this is what made the butterflies dance along beside me.

Not a girl who likes ending my morning study on time so that the rest of the day can begin, I love having cochlear implants and being able to listen to podcasts while I walk or run or play or do the mundane chores and tasks of life.  I still enjoy silence, and keep a good dose of it in my daily schedule, but I like having the option to keep learning when I am excited about something on following a particular trail.  Then, in the moments when it’s time to collapse on the field of wildflowers, soak in the hot water of a shower, or endure those painful moments left to the mundane tasks required of me each day (like getting dressed, fixing hair, doing makeup, making lunches), then I can have silence because I am full to overflowing, and there is much to to process and a great deal to ponder and even the simple tasks can count as creation.

Before I leave for the day, my mother and I always say prayers together.  This tiny practice has taught us to be kind to each other, to learn each other’s needs, to practice apologies, and to love generously and well.  It has granted us forgiveness, given us peace, and created a friendship beyond what we could have done on our own.  It holds us accountable, and reminds us of our focus and duty and promises for each day.  It is humbling, and so simple, and we are grateful.

This is what nourishes me each day, and fills me to overflowing before I ever get to work.  It’s the pattern of study and pondering and prayer that makes my day unfold so smoothly.  It’s the process of getting myself out of the way of others, learning to give, offering peace, and letting something bigger than me create my day.  It’s the unfolding of understanding, as the day builds upon itself, layer by layer, in an algorithm of knowledge and wisdom that comes from getting outside of my own head and practicing how to love others, celebrate others, strengthen others.  Sometimes these lessons are so profound that it sends me back to the books or my notes or my studies to re-read, re-study, re-ask, and re-wait.  Sometimes it is correction (always quick and sharp).  Sometimes it’s a simple prompting, like just to shut my mouth, or listen, or to say this or do that.  Sometimes it’s words flowing out of me in a way and with such depth that I know it is beyond me, and my only job is to keep going until it is done and not get in the way.  Sometimes it’s an errand, or a chore, or a task, or an assignment.  Often it is just to look and see, hear and understand, feel and know.

When I come home from work, I make dinner for me and my mother.  Tonight she tricked me by distracting me with gratitude for food storage, so that I wasn’t paying attention and made pasta for the second night in a row.  I try to explain why we can’t live on pasta, and that our bodies need real nutrition, and about protein and exercise.  Mostly she just gets those twinkles in her eyes because she wriggled us out of fish night while I wasn’t looking.  She is slippery, that one.

We have a new routine, my mother and I.  I am not a tv girl so much, but there are shows she likes.  This has been a clash in every friendship and relationship in my past, and it has taken me this long to grow up enough to figure out how to compromise it, how to get creative with a solution.  What is good about her shows is that these reality people are not my patients.  They can get all dramatic and make messes that I don’t have to clean up.  So I sit with her in the rocking chair next to her bed, turn off my cochlear implants, and do my paperwork and session notes and blog-writing while she watches her shows.  When she needs something or we want to chat, she can fingerspell or sign (she has learned so much!).  Sometimes I watch (most all are cooking shows or dancing), especially when there is something yummy I want to re-create.  But mostly I sit in silence, lost in my world of writing, but still present with her.  It’s working, and it’s better than being isolated at opposite ends of the house, and we are learning.  We like it, so it is becoming part of our routine, a way to be together but on our own.  She teaches me pop culture stuff, which is required for my job but about which I am completely clueless, and I write.

My chapter-by-chapter Book of Mormon blogs are more than half-way through.  It’s not that it is a terrible thing, but it’s a big project and has taken a long time.  It takes several hours most days, to get it ready to be posted automatically the next morning at 8am, and I am exhausted by the time I start, so really worn out by the time it is done.  It has been a miracle to me, to really learn the stories since I did not grow up with them, and I would not trade what I have learned for anything.  But it is a big project, and making it halfway through is like stopping on the mountain – knowing there is so much left to do, but feeling relieved to look down and see the progress.  I have always written about what I read, some books being more intensive than others.  I thought the Clarissa book was a big project, until I was assigned this Book of Mormon project.  Maybe that was good practice for this, and this is good practice for whatever is next.  But all of it has been good for me.  I learn, I am changed, and I am grateful.

When I finish, I kneel beside my mother’s bed and we say our evening prayers.  The praying together has really made such a difference that we are going to try an experiment of also reading some scriptures together each morning, and see what happens.  We are excited, and I love seeing how such simple things make such a big difference.  After we pray, we put our favorite lotion on our feets and legs and arms, still chatting like school girls.  We hug good night, still chatting, and I turn the light out on my way to my own room, listening to our chatter fade away.   These are the small moments that make a good day, and the small moments that make me glad things have turned out as they have, that we have these precious moments to share, this precious time together.

I am girly enough (gasp!) that I like a warm welcome, and active enough that I need to specifically de-stimulate if I am going to be able to sleep.  So before I get the lotion to put on her feet, I light my little candle and turn on my electric blanket and make sure my room is cleaned up for bed.   That way when I come to my room now, my room is dark and ready for me and I have welcomed myself home after the long day.  It is the moment of peace, the moment of completion, the moment of knowing the long, hard day was done well – even when there have been lessons to learn along the way and even when some experiences felt too big or too hard or too whatever to conquer.  Welcoming me home, I know it is finished, and that it was done well.  Or not, on the days I fail (more often than not), but still -there are lessons learned and mercy found in the atonement.  This is the grace of God.  This is peace.  This is being still, and knowing He is God.

I enjoy the moment in this sacred space of my little room, letting the stillness and quiet and dark slip over me as I settle down for sleep.

I write what there is left to write, and then I kneel for my prayers before curling up with my bedside books, the favorites, the ones I will dream about until I have so many questions to ask that the morning wakes me ready to study again.

This is what feeds me, what nourishes me, what fills me so that I am fully me (by being less me, which makes me more the me I was created to be), and fully experience living every moment of each day.

Because it is a miracle to be alive, and I don’t want to miss a second of it.

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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