So guess who went to work with me today, so that Nathan could survive his trip to church with his parents and sister?
I told her these halls were the ones I learned to crawl in, and that the slick floors were not that different from the monestary I once lived in – and through which I used to roller blade, back in the day.
That’s not our cross, by the way. Did you know mormons don’t do crosses, even for jewelry?
Anyway, we also finished five of the six papers I have due by Wednesday, which is so strange to me because mormons also don’t do homework on Sundays.
Excepting when you called to be a chaplain, and preach on Sundays, and wait for pagers to go off or patients to die, and you get instructed that homework is the best way to pass the time because it counts for clinical time and means time is freed up to spend with your family once you are home again.
Except all that feels backwards, from being away from home to working on Sundays.
How do Bishops and those others do it? Or their wives?
We don’t know.
We just type papers.
I deeply struggle with the awareness of so many who have done so much to help, and the fear that all I have done is disrupt that many lives.
How do you hold on in faith, even in the depths of the great waters, that all of this is so real and we are not just crazy?
The pressure this semester has been unbelievable.
Not the school work, as I can do that in my sleep (and mostly did), but the raw consciousness of knowing that we were in such a precarious position, that every moment away from my family had to count because otherwise the cost would be too high.
Some loved ones took my disappearing personally, even though we talked at the beginning what this would be like and what it would require of us.
Except how could they not, when Nathan and I both have to disappear for six months, due to serial parenting just to fulfill the calling and our work demands while also being home for the children (since our faith tells us that)?
Those who tried to encourage us kept reminding us that it was for a season only, and that we have made it through the worst part, but at what cost? We have been changed by this experience, transformed by the enduring, stripped bare of ego and pride until there is nothing more to self-absorb.
My body is tired, and my mind is weary.
My children have regressed to wild animals again.
My husband is on oxygen at night.
His parents don’t even know we still live in town.
I haven’t told any good stories to my friends in months, until they can’t remember why they cared, anyway.
And the VA is finally sliding down the hill into the park.
But somehow, somehow, I still believe.
My mind is weary, and my body exhausted, but my spirit is stronger than I have ever been.
Because there is happiness in this, the being aligned with His will, even when consecration strips you raw.
The voice of the Spirit whispers to me, “This way, this way,” with the same comfort the baby finds in the playlist of Nathan playing violin:
No, I don’t know how we made it through these six months, or what it means, exactly.
Only that we have almost made it through, and that we have miles to go before we sleep, and that He has promises to keep.
She’s busy learning to laugh, to hold her bottle, and finding ways to play with the pink pacifier.
We had a busy day.
It feels symbolic, really, this being stalled in the storm because you know you are supposed to be headed in a certain direction, and that direction is home to your family.
I listened to Elder Perry’s talk on the way, wondering what was so important for us to hear that the Lord kept him alive just long enough to give us the talk. He said:
We take the commitment and the sanctity of marriage to a greater level because of our belief and understanding that families go back to before this earth was and that they can go forward into eternity.
That’s what all this is about: premortal covenants, testifying, gathering, and returning home again.
That’s what makes it worth it.
That’s where we find the strength, the drive, and the passion to do what we do.
Because it is that real.
And this quote from the same talk:
As New York Times columnist David Brooks said: “People are not better off when they are given maximum personal freedom to do what they want. They’re better off when they are enshrouded in commitments that transcend personal choice—commitments to family, God, craft and country.”
That’s how we do what we do, because of being enshrouded… Like a covering, like the weight of Elijah’s mantel, like a veil.
It’s not just diapers and research papers and helping patients die and counseling to pay a mortgage and hoping to see your husband at the end of the day.
It’s sacred, this little life we have, and every moment is sacred work.
Because this is eternity.