Sunday, February 28, 2010

Poetry on the Sabbath / Lloyd

All my life I have been careful to avoid employment that required me to work on Sundays. In our family, Judy and I made it a church and family day. And I think it helped us create a culture that celebrated interpersonal, family relationships at the center of our lives. The Sunday difference became an important core value even though my employment frequently uprooted us, and we had to keep starting over again in new communities and schools. It helped especially when I had to commute far distances and work long hours--unable to be home for dinner every night.

So it was gut wrenching experience this month when new management at the maximum security forensic psychiatric hospital where I work, arbitrarily and totally unresponsive to my pleas for accommodation, reassigned my days off from Sunday/Monday to Friday/Saturday.  Level-of-care hospital service is 24/7; and so I realize now how fortunate I have been to have had Sunday’s off these many years.

To set Sunday apart I proposed and was granted permission to facilitate a Poetry Reading and Writing Group. We only have a few participants each time, but the subject matter provides an opportunity to indentify and discuss values; and surprising enough, they are often spiritual and intensely personal.

We’ve been talking about relationships. And to illustrate the dynamic nature of relationships, I offered the following observation about couples: Your girlfriend may become your wife, your wife may become pregnant, but everything changes when she becomes a mother. Here’s the poem with illustrations:

“When Girlfriends Become Mothers”

I married my girlfriend.
And when she became pregnant
she moved about clumsily,
but we were much the same.

Then my girlfriend gave birth.
She became a mother
and I, a father.
And we had to become reacquainted.

When I worked in a New York City Methadone Maintenance Clinic, clients told me, “We don’t have friends, we have associates.”  One of the participants in our poetry group told me that “friends” differ from “associates” in that the former is “motivated by love,” and the latter by “selfish gain.”  Through the years I’ve asked street people to differentiate the two but never received such a succinct and thoughtful response.

The same respondent put together the following poem:

Policemen love felons,
Psychiatric nurses love psychos, and
Heart surgeons love heart patients.
They have compassion on the patients
as they treat them,
But not the same kind of compassion
that made them heart surgeons.
The compassion becomes complete
(the two compassions become 1).
Husband and Wife.

Next week they want to explore “Dignity.”  While these men may all be felons and suffer from a variety of serious and persistent psychiatric disorders, I have learned they are not throwaways. I expect to learn a lot and come away buoyed up on my Sunday’s. And hopefully I can provide a venue for them that is decidedly different from the intently secular institution.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wedding Brainstorm: How To Ensure The Marriage Ceremony Isn't Lost In The Shuffle Of The Wedding / Lloyd

My nephew called to say he was planning to get married, and the going rate for a full wedding in their area was about $28,000. We've enjoyed 8 wedding celebrations with our children without being overwhelmed by expenses. He wondered if he could bounce a few ideas off us. So our family put together a Blog: Wedding Brainstorm to facilitate the conversation.

Many of us have recounted our personal wedding experiences. But Tuesday I posted an article from a community that bewails the expectation to have wedding budgets in the six-figure range--typically from $150,000 to $300,000.

Although reading the article gave me the feeling that I was eavesdropping (like a fly on the wall), this extreme example of expensive weddings and the pressures and resulting negative emotions expressed (especially in the comment section) helped me get a better grasp of the dynamics involved even for weddings with much smaller budgets.

If there's a wedding in your future, you may find the postings at Wedding Brainstorm interesting, even helpful. Please feel free to comment and join in the conversation. Rules for keeping the discussion upbeat and constructive are posted.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Tender Feelings Of An Adoptive Father / Lloyd

Tonight, while researching questions I have about adoption and becoming the seed of Abraham, I came across this short and personal article by Elder Theodore M. Burton. He and I worked together on several issues while I was stationed with the Army in Germany and he was the general authority for Europe with headquarters in Frankfurt. Two issues were: 1) official coercion of military medical personnel to perform abortions in military hospitals, and 2) intimidation of single female members of the military to thereby terminate their pregnancies. Little did I know of his own deep feelings about the issue as may be inferred from the following article (Theodore M. Burton, "A Special Child," Liahona, Jul 1980):

Once upon a time a husband and wife who loved each other very much wanted to have a child of their very own to hold and to cuddle and to love. As time passed and they had no children, they prayed to their Heavenly to send them a special child. Heavenly Father heard their prayers.

One day this husband and wife received a telephone call to go to a distant city to meet with some people who said they had a tiny baby that this man and his wife could adopt. Excited and filled with anticipation, they made the journey in their car. When they arrived at the city, they went to a certain home and there they were taken into a room where they saw a tiny baby laying in the middle of a big bed waiting for them. There really is such a thing as love at first sight, for when this husband and wife saw that little boy lying there all alone, they immediately loved him. They took him home with them and loved the baby so much that they talked about him as their own beloved son.

Yet in spite of great love for that little baby, they had a fear in their hearts that they might not be able to keep him as their very own child. They first had to see a judge and ask if they could adopt this baby according to law. Because the judge wanted to make sure the little boy would be properly cared for, he first had to find out if the husband and his wife loved each other, if they had a good and happy home, and if they had enough money to feed and clothe the baby.

It took time for the judge to decide all these questions and all the while the love of the husband and his wife for the baby grew and grew. Finally, the judge gave legal consent for the couple to adopt the baby and this was done. Now the baby was their very own special child and their fear was gone that he would be taken away from them. Still, the judge could only give them permission to have the child during their lifetime on this earth. But they loved that baby more than that! They believed in Jesus and knew that Jesus had more power than the judge. Jesus could give them the child forever and ever and not just for this life only.

After the adoption papers had been signed and the baby had been given a name, the couple took their son with them to a temple of God. There they dressed in white clothes and dressed the little boy in white clothes too. Then they all knelt down at an alter in the temple. A man who held a special priesthood sealed that little boy to his new father and mother so that the family could be together forever. Now this boy really was their own special child!

I know that this story is true, because I am that father who loves his very own special child more every day and, as mothers do, my wife loves him even more. Every child who lives in such a family where love is can also feel he or she is a very special child.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

When girlfriends become mothers / Lloyd

I facilitate a Poetry Reading and Writing Group at a forensic psychiatric hospital. We were talking about relationships, and I wrote the following to illustrate how relationships are dynamic. Your girlfriend may become your wife, your wife may become pregnant, but everything changes when she becomes a mother.

I married my girlfriend.
And when she became pregnant
she moved about clumsily,
but we were much the same.

Then when my girlfriend gave birth,
she became a mother;
I became a father.
And we had to become reacquainted.

dynamic relationship--lloyd

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Unique Gospel Culture --The Law of Adoption / Lloyd

The Law of Adoption is a Fundamental Doctrine of the Gospel
There is a unique gospel culture, a set of values and expectations and practices common to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This gospel way of life comes from the plan of salvation, the commandments of God, and the teachings of the living prophets. It is given expression in the way we raise our families and live our individual lives. The principles stated in the family proclamation are a beautiful expression of our gospel culture. . . The traditions of culture or way of life of a people inevitably include some practices that must be changed by those who wish to qualify for God's choicest blessings. . . This requires us to make some changes from our family culture, our ethnic culture, or our national culture. We must change all elements of our behavior that are in conflict with gospel commandments, covenants, and culture. (See Dallin H. Oaks, "Repentance and Change," Ensign, Nov 2003, 37, and  "Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church," Ensign, Nov 2005, 24)
Bringing our lives into conformity with the gospel culture often requires rejecting or repenting of behaviors and practices that are tolerated, expected or even endorsed in the world in which we live, such as mistreatment of women, dishonesty, and sexual immorality.

Bringing our lives into conformity with the gospel culture usually includes developing a refinement of the spirit as evidenced by increased modesty in our clothing and speech and by choosing uplifting music, literature, and other forms of entertainment, with a general shift in the amount of the time we spend pursuing entertainment and material goals to education and service.

Bringing our lives into conformity with the gospel culture will almost certainly include expanding our vision and the active development of opportunities to love and serve family members, both past and present, and friends, neighbors, and strangers--especially the poor and needy among us. Examples are doing quiet acts of charity, sharing the gospel, performing family history and temple work, contributing to the perpetual education fund, and responding to the special needs of others in times of natural disaster.

One of the greatest forms of love and service that is absolutely central to the purpose of mortality and is the most refining of all mortal activity is having and raising children, including reaching out and adopting children whose parents put them up for adoption or who are orphaned. When children are born under the covenant, or subsequently sealed to their parents, they receive extraordinary blessings and vital protections that can be obtained only through temple ordinances. (See Posting  "Our Wandering Children are not Lost," April 19, 2001)

The Law of Adoption is at the Heart of the Gospel and is Required by All who Inherit Eternal Life
In setting forth that all men must be born again to gain salvation, . . .this means they must be "born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen sate, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters. " (Mosiah 27:25) Whose sons and whose daughters do we become when we are born again? Who is our new Father? The answer is, Christ is our Father; we become his children by adoption; he makes us members of His family.  (Mosiah 5:7) (See Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 1978)
Furthermore, there is process and order in organizing the familial lines of those who qualify to be heirs of eternal life, the sons and daughters of Christ, and joint heirs with Him. Men and women of whatever literal blood lineage become, through adoption, the seed of Abraham and the elect of God as they receive and magnify the covenants of the temple, especially the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. (D&C 84:33-39 and D&C 132: 19-21)

Therefore, to paraphrase King Benjamin, will we suffer little children to remain orphaned when we ourselves are also completely dependent upon the law of adoption for our exaltation. King Benjamin does counsel, "It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." (Mosiah 4: 16, 19, 27).  Perhaps if we have the means of extending the blessings of the temple to children at risk, we shouldn't dismiss out of hand the idea of adopting them.

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