Saturday, January 3, 2009

Driving Well #2

Now....imagine yourself driving a paved but narrow, two lane, winding canyon road like you've seen so many of. You are anxious to reach your destination so, while you are determined to drive safely, you would like to move along at a good speed.

So, you apply the roof (rag on old fence) rule: You focus you eyes on one of the white lines in the road, as far ahead as you can clearly see it. You won't do this continually for a long time, but you do as you approach curves, as oncoming traffic approaches you, as you approach and pass a slower moving vehicle, etc. You find that your peripheral vision gives you adequate information about approaching vehicles or vehicles you are passing. You also find that your mind and your arms, hands, legs and feet work quite automatically to keep your car centered nicely in the traffic lane, or in whatever position it needs to be. You will also notice that, as you approach a curve or car up ahead, your car assumes the perfect speed and you seldom need to touch the brake peddle.

I discovered this magic idea long ago, quite by accident. I started thinking about it as a kid as I watched my Dad plant sugar beet seeds. He would tie a cloth from Mothers rag drawer on the fence at either end of the field, marking the alignment where he wanted the beet rows to be (moving the rag the correct distance each time he arrived at the end of the field again). Then he would take his position on the drill (in those days the drill was a horse drawn, two wheel rig with a box to hold the seed and four tubes which carried the seed by gravity to the ground where it fell into four grooves cut by circular disks) on a metal seat on top of the box, his head being higher than the horses heads. He would then center the drill on the first flag, the flag being at his back, focus his eyes on the rag at the other end of the field (far enough away as to be barely visible), and cluck his tongue or say "gettyup" to the horses, always calling them by name.

He had them well trained and they moved at a slow even pace. He never looked up. He seemingly never took his eyes off the far away rag. And so he went all day long, and day after day. We were never to draw his attention from what he was doing. If Mother wanted him for dinner she would stand silently and wait until he had completed a "round" and was back at the beginning end of the field. And, to everyone's astonishment, when the beet plants began to grow and were large enough to see the rows, they were unfailingly straight as a string the full width of the field. No one had sugar beet rows quite as straight and true as Dad did. Straight rows were important in raising sugar beets because it made the work much simpler all the rest of the season, and protected the plants from being cut out and destroyed by weeding, ditching and harvesting equipment as the work progressed through the year.

I have concluded, as I've thought about it, that he probably didn't ever think about the horses in particular, or worry about where they were going. His mind and arms took care of keeping them on course quite automatically. The only thing he needed to do was "keep his eye on the goal".

We had a large lawn around the house in those days and it was my job to mow it regularly. I remember practicing the roof rule by picking a spot at the other end of the lawn and focusing my eyes on it as I pushed the mower across the lawn. I refused to look down at the mower, or to check to see if I was leaving a strip not mowed. I was amazed at how well it worked, and got better as I practiced. (To be continued)

Driving Well #1

This might be as much about our wonderful body as it is about driving a vehicle.

Imagine yourself driving in a heavy rain on a busy road. The wipers are on fast, the trucks drown you when they are near or ahead of you, you can't see well, and your shoulders, arms and hands are tense. You notice that when you glance at a truck that is at the side of your car the car, seemingly on its own volition, swerves toward the truck, so you avoid looking, but that worries you too. Now there's a big truck on either side of you. You see them, you feel them, you try really hard not to glance at them, but how do you know what they are doing if you don't? Then, for some reason, you look at one of the white lines that define your lane. Your eys follow the white line up ahead as far as you can see it, and you stay focused on it. You notice that your car steadies itself in the center of your lane. You become aware that you have both trucks in your peripheral vision and you can tell they are staying steadily in their lane as well. Your shoulder and arm muscles relax a little. Then you glance at one of the trucks, and your car moves quickly toward that truck. You quickly look back at the white line and your car moves back to the center of the lane as if under its own power. Now you stay focused on the white line and you relax again. You approach a curve but you stay focused on the white line, you can see that both trucks are steady in their lane, your car moves steadily around the curve, staying centered in your lane. Now you feel confident enough that you speed up a little and pull ahead of the trucks. (To be continued)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Some things I've learned about the Atonement.

  • Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, "The Lord is in the details of our lives". I've come to know that is true, much more than I used to think. In the smallest things; if it matters to me, it matters to Him. For example: If a child loses a boot and prays to find it, and finds it - that is an answer to prayer - a miracle. I may feel too 'grown up', but if I lose a boot and pray to find it, I believe the Lord will help me find it - and that's a miracle, too.

  • We are taught that the Lord dealt with us, each one, in a very personal way while He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemene and on the Cross. He came to know us even more intimately that before, and because He knows and understands us, and why we do what we do, He knows exactly how to help us. I believe that He will see that the way is prepared perfectly for us if we will have the determination and courage to follow His lead, which is given to us by the Spirit directly, and through our parents and leaders

  • It seems to me the Lord does everything that He can for each one of us (His children) to help us get back to Him, short of interfering in our right to choose, our agency. It doesn't matter the mistakes we may have made or the sins we may have committed, if we will repent. What we have done will undoubtedly affect how difficult it is to get back, but it does not, I think, affect His determination to help us. He is there to keep the way open and to help us back. He'll not ever take away our right to choose, but He will do everything else that can be done to help us.

  • It is my experience that the Lord is quick to forgive. If we will repent; stop doing it, or start doing it, as the case may be, and promise to continue doing so, He will forgive us, as often as we need forgiveness. We, of course, walk on dangerous ground if we keep repenting and repeating the sin again and again - not because He gives up on us, He never will - maybe the great danger is because our habits and weaknesses grow stronger with each repetition and it becomes more difficult to change. I am convinced the Lord is quick to forgive and allow us back on the straight and narrow path.

  • So, let us suppose we repent, and are forgiven, and we are back on the path - then invariably, it seems, other things begin to happen: Satan doesn't give up! He hates us, and is clever and determined. When we repent and the Lord forgives us, satan fights even harder to turn us around and have us fail again. He will do anything to discourage us; he whispers that it's too late, we aren't worthy to be forgiven, what we've done is too serious, we've failed too many times, how could we expect the Lord to love us after what we've done. He whispers that we might as well give up - it's too late. All these awful feelings we have to deal with make us feel we're not forgiven, after all. But just maybe it is quite the contray, Might it not be that satan is angry because we have repented and the Lord has forgiven us, and he is determined to turn us around to repeat our mistakes.

  • Then, at some point as we continue to progress along the path, it is necessary for us to deal with the consequences of our past actions. Experiences related in the scriptures suggest that this may take place immediately or it might be some time before it happens. As we learn more and more we begin to realize that this process of having to deal with the consequences of our actions is a great gift, and is an important and wonderful process. It gives us a chance to 'make up' in a small way for our mistakes. It gives us a chance to do all we can to make things right with Him and other people. Sometimes it is very difficult, and it is hard to remember that, as we suffer the consequences of things we've done, we can, I believe, still be on the path - it is not an indication that we were mistaken about being forgiven - we can continue to progress and grow through it all, and our faith will sustain us and help us to know that this is a necessary part of the Plan - and I am convinced that it does not suggest that we are not forgiven.

  • And little by little as this process of repentance, forgiveness, discouragement, and dealing with the consequences takes place, the sweet feelings of confidence and peace return and we find that we really can feel truly happy, after all. And it is such a sweet and wonderful feeling.

  • The ways of the Lord are truly majestic. Peter wrote, "...we were eyewitnesses of His majesty". (2 Peter 2:16) We are all eyewitnesses of His majesty as we realize the great blessings of repentance and forgiveness.