Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Music for your Midweek: Dave Rawlings Machine - "Method Acting +Cortez The Killer"

Here's an old rediscovered beauty. A combined cover of Bright Eyes and Neil Young from a Tiny Desk Concert.

Those Bright Eyes lyrics are something else. I'm always a sucker for him.

'Cause I don't know what tomorrow brings.
It is alive with such possibilities
All I know is I feel better when I sing.
Burdens are lifted from me,
that's my voice rising

love it love it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Bright Sadness

On the trail
2016 has been off to a rough start. Had a mental break-down in the middle of volunteering for the Sundance Film Festival. Crawled through an anxiety-riddled 29th birthday. Tried turning things around and made some progress, but got chewed out by a therapist (?!) and ended up feeling pretty miserable. Not to mention exuding a general coldness towards the people I care about most.

Sorry, world!

This is probably too much to divulge onto the internet, but I'm hoping it would provide some context. Things are getting better. I've been blessed by surprise opportunities and patient friends. It can just be a struggle to keep perspective.

I was asked to speak at church a couple weeks ago and gave my talk on Easter Sunday. I generally take whatever assignment I'm given and try to combine it with whatever I've been thinking about lately. I try and write the talk that I wish I could hear.

So, here it is! Hope it brings some Hope.

A Bright Sadness

For the past several years, I have given up something for Lent. Lent in primarily observed in Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions and covers a period of 40 days beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday. In the past, I’ve given up social media, sugar, and sleep, with varying degrees of success. This year, I gave up meat, and was thrilled that the ward chose to celebrate the last day of Lent with me by providing bacon after we finished cleaning the church yesterday.

But along with my small chosen sacrifice for the season, I also attempted to better understand the tradition of Lent and what it means to our fellow Christians. The Greek Orthodox theologian, Alexander Schmemann describes this season as a “bright sadness”. It is meant as a time of fasting and sacrifice where we contemplate the situation of man in a fallen world. As a consequence of the fall, we will all experience sadness and hardship. Sin is often the main cause our estrangement from God. Trials and challenges may also lead us to think that we have been abandoned or that there is not hope for us. I am sure that many of us have felt that type of sadness at some point in our lives. But the main message of Lent and of the gospel as a whole, is that despite the darkness that sometimes surrounds us, we can find hope in the Savior. This hope comes through understanding the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

All are invited to partake of Christ’s atonement. No burden is too heavy and no circumstance is too bleak. And while we have seen of late how easy it is to segregate ourselves in the world and pit ourselves against one another, the good news of the gospel of invites us all to come unto him despite our differences.

… for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and hi inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

How is Christ able to promise succor to all God’s children? It is through the miracle of the atonement. All of us are in need of intercession as a consequence of the fall. In the Doctrine and Covenants, it outlines how we became separated from our Heavenly Father:

40 Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation.
41 Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead…

The atonement is what corrects and overcomes the consequences of these choices. It saves us from sin and death. It reconciles us with God and brings us back into the Holy Ghost’s sphere of influence. In Isaiah, a prophecy is made concerning how this redemption will come to all men:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Through the miracle of the atonement, our sins, though as scarlet, may be white as snow. It is everlasting and can cover all of us, even though it may seem we are at the furthest edge of where it can reach. We are given the gift of agency, which puts the responsibility on us to let the atonement work in our lives. When we make covenants, keep the commandments, and serve others, we are inviting the blessings of the atonement into our lives. The atonement allows us to cultivate hope. It will serve as a beacon and bring comfort. Paul beautifully describes this hope in his epistle to the Corinthians:

6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

The Jesuit Priest, Reverend James Martin shares how this type of hope can help transform our earthly experience:

“Some days are indeed times of great pain and some are of great joy, but most are…in between. Most are, in fact, times of waiting… Waiting to get into a good school. Waiting to meet the right person…Waiting to get a job… Waiting for life just to get better. 
But there are different kinds of waiting. There is the wait of despair. Here we know—at least we think we know—that things could never get better, that God could never do anything with our situations. This may be the kind of waiting that forced the fearful disciples to hide behind closed doors on Holy Saturday, cowering in terror…Then there is the wait of passivity, as if everything were up to “fate.” In this waiting there is no despair, but not much anticipation of anything good either. 
Finally, there is wait of the Christian, which is called hope. It is an active waiting; it knows that, even in the worst of situations, even in the darkest times, God is at work. Even if we can’t see it clearly right now. The disciples’ fear was understandable, but we, who know how the story turned out, who know that Jesus will rise from the dead, who know that God is with us, who know that nothing will be impossible for God, are called to wait in faithful hope…”

In Moroni7:41 we read:

41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

But one of the most beautiful lessons the gospel teaches, is that through the Lord, we can accomplish all things. Even the unimaginable. One of my favorite stories is of Martha, Mary, and their brother, Lazarus. Jesus had received word that Lazarus was sick but by the time he had come to the family, Lazarus had been dead for two days. Mary and Martha had faith in Christ, in fact, when Marry meets him she bears a small testimony saying “If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died”. But her vision was limited. She had faith in Christ’s power, but had placed her own limits on his abilities. In John we read:

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

In this example, Christ shows the true power of the Gospel and that it can surpass mortal understanding. He declares.

25 I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die…

            Mary had faith that Lazarus could have been healed had Christ been there, and she also had hope that he could attain life after death. But she didn’t realize that the power of God could stretch farther than that. Like Mary and the crowd of mourners, I often place limits on what I think the Lord can accomplish in my life. I have a mustard seed of faith, but hold to doubts that it can become anything more than a seedling. Oftentimes I excuse myself by saying that I am simply being realistic, but in reality, it is a lack of faith. Christ’s atonement and resurrection are evidence that nothing is impossible through his power.

I was blessed to see first-hand the changes that come through the atonement of Jesus Christ as I taught investigators and members. For the last 6 weeks of my mission, I served with a sister from Bolivia, Over time, I came to realize that she was illiterate. She could wrestle through reading a scripture out loud, but couldn’t understand what she had read. I also discovered that she had been abused and was most likely suffering from PTSD. She had severe anxiety and refused to speak up during lessons, let alone talk with people on the street. But she was one of the sweetest companions I had, and always looked for opportunities to serve. I became accustomed to our routines and accepted as fact that I would do all the talking, tracting and teaching till I finished my mission. On my last night as a missionary, we hurried toward the chapel for a baptism. I was so happy and distracted, I hardly noticed my companion slow her pace. Her face beamed as she spoke with a woman who was walking just behind us. She gave her name, and that she was a representative of Christ, and shared her testimony. I was shocked. After hardly speaking to anyone besides me for 6 weeks, she had shared a beautiful testimony of the love that Heavenly Father has for each of us to a complete stranger. It was a humbling moment. I was so focused on our investigators and my last days in the country; I had almost missed seeing the miraculous changes that were being worked in my companion.

Each of us will have our own sojourns in the wilderness, a time of Lent and fasting and sacrifice and sorrow. But as we end Lent and celebrate Easter, I am grateful for the knowledge of the atonement, and the hope we can find in the resurrection.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday Verse: "i thank You God for most this amazing" - E.E. Cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes 
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitable earth) 
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You? 
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

                                                              - E.E. Cummings

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Music for your Midweek: Mitski

These are living things

My brother Jeremy introduced me to Mitski a couple weeks ago, and I'm hooked. Here's a nice little song that is unlike any of her others:

And here's a song that's like all the others and a favorite:

And that second song? Singing into the guitar???

Time to learn how to make some Rock and Roll.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday Verse: "Here In the Spring" - Dylan Thomas


Here in this spring, stars float along the void;
Here in this ornamental winter
Down pelts the naked weather;
This summer buries a spring bird.

Symbols are selected from the years'
Slow rounding of four seasons' coasts,
In autumn teach three seasons' fires
And four birds' notes.

I should tell summer from the trees, the worms
Tell, if at all, the winter's storms
Or the funeral of the sun;
I should learn spring by the cuckooing,
And the slug should teach me destruction.

A worm tells summer better than the clock,
The slug's a living calendar of days;
What shall it tell me if a timeless insect
Says the world wears away?

                                                      - Dylan Thomas

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Music for your Midweek: Paolo Nutini

Favorite ol' favorite Paolo Nutini coming out of nowhere to make me cry with this cover:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday Verse: "White Cotten T-Shirt" - Margaret Atwood


White cotton T-shirt: an innocent garment then.
It made its way to us from the ward, but we didn't know that.
For us it was the vestment of summer,
whiter than white, shining with whiteness
because it had been washed in blood, but we didn't know that,
and in the cropped sleeve, rolled up tightly
into a cuff, were tucked the cigarettes
also white within their packet, also innocent,
as were white panties, white convertibles,
white-blond brush-cuts
and the white, white teeth of the lilting smiles
of the young men. 
Ignorance makes all things clean.
Our knowledge weighs us down.
We want it gone 
so we can put on our white T-shirts
and drive once more through the early dawn
streets with the names we never could
pronounce, but it didn't matter,
over the broken glass and bricks, passing
the wary impoverished faces,
the grins filled with blackening teeth,
the starving dogs and stick children
and the slackened bundles of clothing
that once held men
enjoying the rush of morning air
on our clean, tanned skins,
and the white, white flowers we held out in our fists,
believing — still —that they are flowers of peace.

                                                           - Margaret Atwood 

Friday, March 11, 2016

March Mix: hide under here

A mix that jumps from a dance party to a punk party to a sweet party to a sad party. Everything for everyone. Just trying to keep you satisfied.

1. You Keep Me Hangin' On - Vanilla Fudge

2. Drinkee - Sofi Tukker

3. Vyzee - SOPHIE

4. Actually - Rozi Plain

5. Victoria - Beverly

6. My Me - T. Hardy Morris

7. They / Them / Theirs - Worriers

8. Human Sadness - Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

9. Days Of Candy - Beach House

10. Die Fun - Kacey Musgraves

11. Chinatown  - Shakey Graves

12. You Never Asked Me - Patty Griffin

13. If I Were Queen - My Brightest Diamond

14. Sing, Sparrow, Sing - The Milk Carton Kids

1. Found them thanks to an episode of This American Life and this trippy song. Required listening, all of it.
2. Yes.
3. My mom couldn't make it more than 10 seconds listening to this track without making a fart joke. How long did you last?
6. yeah yeah yeah! Sad I missed this contest. I could have used cash. 
7. Everyone's favorite topic.
8. If I owned a yoga studio, this would be the track I would have on repeat. NO JOKE.
9. And we would listen to this during savasana.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Music for your Midweek: Noura Mint Seymali - "Tzenni"

Found this song by listening through NPR 100 best SXSW songs. What a treat:

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday Verse: "Ice Palace" - Margaret Atwood

Another ice palace, Another demi-
paradise where all desires
are named and thus created,
and then almost satisfied. Hotel
might be an accurate label. 
Not made of glass and marzipan
and steel, and jewel-toned water,
and opal gelatin that glows
like phosphorescent deep-sea fish, as
you might think at first. But no, 
it's only dreams, it's only
clouds of breath formed into
words: the heavenly bed, the all-
you-can-eat breakfast. Invisible hands
bring food, smooth down 
the sheets, turn on the lights,
cause violins to lullaby
the sugared air, clean out the wad of hair
you left in the porcelain shower,
and place a rose on your pillow 
when you're not there. Where
is the fearful beast who runs the show
and longs for kisses?
Where are the bodies that were once
attached to all those hands? 
Backstage it's always carnage.
Red petals on the floor.
You hope they're petals. Don't unlock
the one forbidden door,
the one inscribed 
Staff Only. Do not look
in the last and smallest room, oh
dearest, do not look.

                                             - Margaret Atwood

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Filling the Silent Spaces

A beautiful call to speaking up. I know I definitely needed it:

I'm in the thick of Lent, so this is perfect timing. I love that religion can both encourage us to sacrifice, and also to live up to our privileges. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Music for your Midweek: Mew

Impossible to capture these sunsets

We are entering weird weather days, and I've become re-obbsessed with Mew. I first found them in 2012 after listening to Birdy's cover of Comforting Sounds. First off, these guys are not cool. If you like rock equations, they areSaves the Day + Silversun Pickups + Sigur Ros. Basically my teenage dream. They are earnest and sweet.They are something special to me. Check them out:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Extinction Brink

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

Look at this animal that is real:

Listen to this song that is beautiful and that ANHONI didn't get to perform at the Oscars:

Laugh at this gif of what we all want:

"As we race toward the future, we must never forget the fundamental reality of our situation: we are flying blind"   
                                   - Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski                                        and John Peterson Myers                                                        Our Stolen Future

Don't you ever feel like a threatened species?