Thursday, February 28, 2013

Something old, something new.

Today, I crossed campus at early dusk.

I was in the southeast corner,
where the science buildings are,
where I never go.

But it was so beautiful that I murmured out loud,
I love this place.

I was on my way to the Brimhall Building,
the only building left on the main campus
that I had never been inside.

Part of me didn't want to go in,
to maintain some sense of mystery.

A couple of years ago,
there were tons of buildings 
that were still mysteries to me,
but slowly I've explored most of them.

At length, I decided I'd do it.
What else is your last semester of school for,
if not to do things you've never done?

Immediately, I loved it.

It's charmingly old,
and you know how I feel about old things.

The floor tiles that reminded me of my elementary school,
the wooden banisters,
the inconvenient layout.

I think I loved it,
because it was new.

A little treasure.

A little pocket of something I loved,
held back for me
to make me happy
right at the end.

Monday, February 25, 2013


I used to have this thing against California & Florida.
I thought of them as glorified vacation spots.

You can't live year round in a place with palm trees!

Obviously, I had a change of heart.
I actually went to California.

Right now I'm in Orlando for a conference.

This is our hotel!

And it's lush
and warm
and I love it.

And I said to myself,
I need to spend at least part of my life 
living in a place with palm trees.

Ignoring what this humidity does to my hair, of course.
Let's not talk about that.

But then I went to a conference session
given by a sweet man from Alabama.

And I decided,
I need to spend at least part of my life in the South.

I need to live in a town called Possum Trot.

The next session was led by a women from Rhode Island.

Then, of course,
I need to spend at least part of my life in New England.

I want to be brash and intelligent.

And maybe live near Walden Pond.

And I want to be a hipster in the Pacific Northwest.

And a farmer in the Midwest.

And a Delaware mom who vacations at the beach
and has a smoker voice.

Not to mention how terrifying it is to think of life
without the Rockies.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


This is one of my favorite religious paintings.

"Healing at the Pool of Bethesda," 1883
Carl Bloch

The sick and infirm sat here 
waiting for a chance to be healed.

Then came Jesus.


We have this painting hanging in the art museum at BYU.

It's huge,
and it's nice to sit in front of it.

I don't look at Jesus
or the man being healed,
but the one next to them.

The one in the cap, hugging his knees.

I am drawn to the sharpness 
with which Bloch has painted his face.


Off to the right,
there are those who don't notice Him.

To the left,
they are watching, marveling,
maybe doubting.

But I think that man is hoping.

He's stealing a hesitant glance.

He sees what Christ can do,
and he knows it.
But he may not believe that it could work for him.

After all, he is so lowly and common.

Will He come to me next?
Am I good enough to be healed?


Of everyone in that painting,
I think we are that man,
trying to remember that the answer to those questions
is yes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Then we can talk about life.

we spent a moment at church meeting new people
by talking about who our perfect fictional love interests 
would be.

I said Gilbert Blythe.

But today, I realized
there's someone else.

Fyedka from Fiddler on the Roof.

Usually, I'm the first person to gag
during cheesy romantic parts of movies.
Just ask me how I feel about rose petals.

But even I have my moments.

Take a look at the first part of this.

Let's just ignore the whole bit where
he turns her away from her religion and family.

Otherwise, a Fyedka is perfect for me.
Just before the clip starts,
he tells some buddies who are teasing her 
to leave her alone.

He's willing to fight for her,
as she would be for him.
I've often noticed you at the bookseller's.
Not many girls in this village like to read.

He notices that she's smart and interesting.
Would you like to borrow this book?
It's very good.

He's smart and interesting.
Do you feel about me the way they feel about you?
I didn't think you would.

He helps her see when she's being dumb.
Let me tell you about myself.
I'm a pleasant fellow,
charming, honest, ambitious, quite bright.
And very modest.

He's funny. 
See the way he waits for her to laugh?
He's got some pizzazz.
And the kicker:

Go ahead.
Take the book.
And after you return it,
I'll ask you how you like it.
And we can talk about it for a while.
Then we can talk about life.
And how we feel about things.

That's all you need.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to Celebrate Presidents Day.

I promise you that your life will be fuller and richer
if you begin celebrating the minor holidays.

Tomorrow is Presidents Day,
so why not start now?
Here is your how to guide.

1. Memorize the presidents in order.

There are only 44.

You can really do it.

If you memorize the presidents 
and pass it off to me within the next week,
I'll give you a prize.

Yes, you'll feel like you're in elementary school.

Yes, that's the point.

3. Recite or listen to a speech by a president.

And then think about it.

Not that long ago we lived in a world
where choosing to pursue the moon
was a daring and controversial choice.

Can you imagine that?

4. Eat something special.

Like jelly beans--Reagan loved them.

Or Mamie Eisenhower's fudge recipe.

Just something special.

If it's not presidents related,
then talk about presidents while you're eating.

5. Memorize a few presidents facts and quiz your friends.

Which president had an alligator live at the White House?

This one, if you recognize him.

In general, just think about America
and be grateful.

And spend it with me,
if you can :)

Friday, February 15, 2013


In honor of yesterday,
I'd like to say something that I've been thinking about.

Being afraid of commitment
doesn't make sense.

Just in general.

It started back in evolutionary times, see?

You didn't want to die.
So you picked someone
to be your pal,
and stuck with 'em.
raising littluns.

End of story.


Nowadays, it's not all that different.

You don't want to die alone
or live a life not worth living at all.

So you pick someone
to be your pal,
and you stick with 'em.

You talk to 'em
and give 'em things to eat,
go to the things that they care about.

Raise littluns.


You're afraid your pal will leave you?
They won't.

When they do,
it hurts.

But if you don't even try,
you still don't have a pal.

So either way,
you die.


And everyone wants a pal.
So you'll find another one.
And you'll be happier than with your first pal.

Afraid you could find a better pal?

I guess that could happen,
but that's not what it's all about.

Haven't you ever made a decision
that you didn't end up regretting?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


"Be my Valentine?"
"I guess that would be okay.
You're not made of wood."

Monday, February 11, 2013

And I'll sing hallelujah!

Yesterday, a song meandered into my mind.

And I'll sing hallelujah,
and you'll sing hallelujah...

What song was that?

I could hear it in my mind,
but I didn't know where I'd heard it,
or where to find it.

After a long time, I found it,
and it was more than I bargained for.

This is an old type of singing from the American South,
called Sacred Harp, 
or shape-note, singing.

There is no accompaniment,
no audience,
no formal conductor.

In the musical notation,
each note has a shape,
so that people who didn't know anything about music
could still sing.

Sacred Harp is everything I love about America,
and about being human.

Nothing but plain ordinary folks,
with the sod of this great earth 
running through their veins,
facing each other,
singing about everything in their hearts,
about what makes a poor, beat up life
a life worth living.

Today I was mad,
and I put Hallelujah on.

And I thought about how sweet it will be to see God
and how meaningful the smallest things really are.

Deep down in the mud is where you can see life 
for what it is.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

We're all children.

Today I watched
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

It's a true story
about a man who became paralyzed after a stroke.
Even though he could only move his left eye,
he learned to communicate through blinking.

He wasn't a good man, see.
He left a path of broken lives in his wake.
And yet everyone around him loved him.

It astonished me how much I loved him,
when he didn't deserve any of it.

But I did.
There was a point in the film
where you heard him narrate,
"I have pneumonia."

And I gasped.


He knew a man
who had been held hostage in Beirut for years,
who came to him and said,

"Hold fast to the human inside of you,
and you'll survive."

The real Jean-Dominique Bauby.

And he did.
That's why he was worth loving.

Even he said,
"We're all children;
we all need approval."

There was human inside of him,
and that couldn't be taken away.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Squeeze the stuffin' outta ya.

Today, when I was crossing campus,
two guys stopped someone ahead of me
and asked if he had 5 minutes to help them with a video.

When that happens, you duck away, right?

But as I did so, 
I heard what their film was about.

"It's for Valentines Day.
We're going to film you giving a five-second answer
to the question
What does love mean to you?"

Then, of course,
I wished I was the one they had asked.

But what answer could I give in five seconds?

I thought about it,
and this is what I came up with:

Love is when you look at a person
and want to hug 'em so hard
that the stuffing comes out of 'em.

Love is when you feel so happy
that you want to hug whoever's nearby,
no matter who it is.

Love has a lot to do with hugging, I guess.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Have I ever seen a ghost?

You bet.

Sometimes you look at someone,
and all you see
is the ghost of someone else.

Someone who you're not around anymore.

And you say,

It can't be.
He would never be here.
I know she's in another country.
I don't even know what happened to him.

But they look so much
talk so much
smile so much
like someone you know
that sometimes you can't help but stare.

And sometimes you laugh and look away.

Photo cred: Michele.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Don't be insecure, girl.

My motto is
Say what you need to say.
But this week, I've developed another one.
Don't be afraid,
because the things you're afraid of
are the things you should be excited about.
Obviously, I'm not talking about spiders or being robbed.
I'm talking about being afraid of talking to someone new,
or thinking about the future,
or tackling a large task.
When you're afraid,
it means there's potential.
And that's something to be excited about.