Saturday, August 26, 2006


In 1st Nephi chapter 5 (in the Book of Mormon) Sariah is losing faith. She has obediently followed her husband Lehi the prophet into the wilderness with her children because he had been warned by the Lord that Jerusalem was to be destroyed. Already the prophet Jeremiah was imprisoned and Lehi himself had been threatened.

While in the wilderness, Lehi sends his sons back to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates, the family's book of ancestry and scripture. They have been gone for awhile and Sariah fears that they have perished. She complains agains Lehi, calling him a 'visionary man'and saying "Behold, thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness."
Lehi responds by telling her that he knows he is a visionary man, for if he hadn't seen the things of God in a vision, he would not have known of the Lord's goodness, and he would not have been offered a land of promise, the place the Lord was now leading them to.
Thus Lehi comforted Sariah and a few verses later her sons return to the family with the brass plates in hand.

As soon as I graduated from college I moved to that mecca of dreammaking- the city of New York. I have been here for three years, finding myself, processing my desires, figuring out what the Lord wants of me and what I want to make of myself. I have been successful in many ways. I watch myself growing, I see how the Lord is opening paths for me to achieve the things my heart most desires after.
This month, however, and at various moments in the past three years, I have seen an impasse occur between dream-achieving and rent paying. Or so it seemed. There have been moments when I was sure that my sons had perished in the wilderness. And that my dreams were foolhardy and un-thought-out. Mostly because there is this sense of reality, or this idea of reality that presses down on dreamers sometimes; that dreaming is irresponsibility and simply avoiding the mature necessities of adulthood.

I was struck though, this time reading this story of how the Lord works with dreamers. Lehi wasn't an irresponsible man. He seemed to be a good steward of the things the Lord had placed in his protection. He was prepared to lead his family into the unknown because he knew that the Lord would guide them. He trusted his heart and his dreams-given to him by God.
I realized that although my dreams are personal and focused on individual goals and desires, they lead me to where I want to be most. That the Lord leads dreamers. That when we follow our dreams we reach our promised land. Sometimes I find myself being Sariah to my inner Lehi. But being a Visionary woman is a good thing. And I don't have to lose my sons. Or not pay rent. But i do need to be a good steward of the things and responsibilities under my stewardship. And the Lord helps me to do that.

This idea of the Lord's promises-and his guidance to the promised land- is a reoccuring theme throughout the scriptures, especially in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon. I am reading these two books simultaneously right now and find many of the parallels quite interesting.
For example, at the same time I am reading about Lehi's journey to his promised land, I am also reading about the house of Israel finally receiving their promised blessings and lands. Joshua 23:43-45
"And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.
And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.
There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass."
So, here they are. Two hundred pages and a generation later and they have finally reached their promised land.
First of all, I am struck by the clarity and emphasis made on the fact that every blessing promised was given. Every one!
That is what the Lord's promises mean. He will fulfill. He works with us, in our time and in our ability to receive, but he will keep his promises. What did the children of Israel have to do before they could reach their promised land? They had to humble their hearts (took them 40 years to do that) and be obedient to the Lord's commands. Those were the more internal factors. Then, at the Lord's commands, they had to march forth against the inhabitants of the land. They spent years at war, working and fighting to finally have the land that the Lord promised them.
I am a visionary woman. The Lord blesses me with dreams and visions of my own future, my own ways to make the world, my world and my family's world a better place. He gives me the commandments I need to live to be successful and He provides me the opportunities to build and fight for what I have been promised. And in the end, and even along the way, I am blessed. His promises are sure, and I am surely blessed by their evidences in my life. He is "an high priest of good things to come" and my guide to my promised land.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Body and Soul

Its because of Ian. I was 16 and he had just moved into the city and he was SOOO cool and so nice and so attractive and so Mormon. Being all of the above plus a faithful follower of his religion (is anything more attractive than that?) I took note of the ways he lived his life.
The year before I had taken issue with the amount of meat my family was eating. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints live by a health code which mentions eating meat sparingly, specifically in times of cold, famine, winter. Growing up in Arizona in the 1990s I didn't see much of any of those things. At fifteen I decided to give up red meat in an effort to live that counsel in specific ways. It was also an effort of will, I really loved a good hamburger, and what would I possibly do without eating my favorite beef stroganoff? However I found that it was really quite easy, and that there was always plenty to eat without consuming red meat.
Then Ian came along. Ian the soccer playing guitar strumming hymn singing eyes twinkling double dimpled vegetarian. Before you could say Salisbury Steak I, too, had become a vegetarian.
A trite beginning to a glorious life of vegetarianism? Possibly. Although I know that people come into our lives for reasons. I had contemplated the leap before that point; Ian's charismatic place in my life helped me make the jump. Even though he moved only a short time later, hisinfluence in that matter has made a lasting impact on me (one that he doesn't know
Being a vegetarian has become one of those issues where I learn more about why I should do it as I live it. First of all, I don't claim to be as informed about it as most. I am not a vigilante, I am just quietly trying to live what I feel good about.

I feel good, being a vegetarian. I feel energetic, healthy, light. I don't suffer from weight issues (although I know there are a lot of factors behind that as well) and I feel the absence of that sort of meat-heaviness helps me to crave foods that are healthy for the body. I don't remember all of the health stats that proclaim why and how a vegetarian lifestyle is beneficial; I usually read them, think "oh yeah, I experience that!" and forget what I have read. I want to be a more conscious vegetarian, learning concrete ways this menu choice affects my physical health. But for now, mostly I can just day that I love the way my vegetarian body feels.

I got an email from a friend who described an incident where he was expected to kill the crab that he was going to eat for dinner. He said that it made him want to never eat meat again to have to see a living, crawling, life-ful creature turn lifeless, for his benefit. He called himself a "wus", I couldn't disagree any more wholeheartedly. Such a reaction, I felt, was the result of an intense respect for life. This young man was serving a mission, a time of spiritual development and working relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ. The love he felt for that small, animal life was simply a manifestation of the love he had been gaining as he served the Lord's children. We are told that even a sparrow doesn't fall from the sky without God being aware of it. He loves all of his creations.
It is my own personal belief that we will all end up being vegetarians anyways. Nothing really doctrinal to support that, just my own thoughts and conclusions. If Zion and the millenial reign of the Savior on the earth (both of which I believe in) are times of perfect peace and no death, it makes me think that the same will apply in the animal kingdom. That, of course is hinted at in Isaiah and throughout the scriptures. Why would the lamb lay down with the lion, only to be eaten by the human?
I feel that if my heart and mind stumble upon a higher truth, even if it is not yet generally expected of us, I should do my best to live it. And even if all of my philosophical reasons for not eating meat turn out to be wrong, I feel that this vegetarian living has made me a more gentle human being, loving of all God's creations. (except cockroaches. please don't call me on the cockroaches thing.)

One last thing. Like many principles, true or not, I believe each individual comes to it at his/her own time in his/her own way. I am not interested in forcing vegetarianism on anyone, or even guilting others for different lifestyles. I don't feel that there is anything wrong with eating meat, only that there is something very right about not eating it.