Leaving Easter; Approaching Mother’s Day

Wanda Hail Bolin

As we leave Easter behind and approach Mother’s Day, I have been thinking about and missing my mother. She died when I was 30 and she was 53, of lupus. This has been a difficult 2019 in many ways, and I have thought of her often and wished I could talk to her. Being a mother seems more of a privilege and also more difficult than it usually does, because my adult daughter was injured and has needed my help and care; in addition, a friend has needed my service and attention. I know that if my mother were here, she would help me take care of my daughter, or be my cheerleader in doing all that needs to be done, as she always was. I also know that she is aware of me as she makes progress beyond the veil of death, but I would give much to be able to talk to her on the phone for a couple of hours, as we used to do, back in the days when you had to wait for the long-distance rates to go down before calling. I am thankful to our Savior Jesus Christ that we never leave Easter behind, because the resurrection and the promises of redemption are always with us. I wrote the following poem some time after I spent a month in the hospital with my mother as she died, in 1985. She was a wonderful mother; I will always miss her until I can be with her again in the next life.

Mother, Dying

I have not lost you; I know where you are.
Gowned in silk and steel gray,
patchworks of grass and flowers,
frost and mud. I can visit you.

Every three hours for 15 minutes,
I can visit you. Monitor green lines and tubes.
Behind your mask, the gasping, gracious hostess,
you welcome all who come to smile to you and cry to me.
You cry to me, squeeze my hand,
Hello, Don’t leave, Keep singing.
I exhaust my repertoire: I can’t stand here anymore tonight.
You wait for morning.

I wait for mourning; it won’t be long now;
Your only consciousness is breathing,
only breathing, only trying to breathe.
Numbers fall; green lines slowly tumble flat:
flat as nothing, flat as gone.
And all the crying before was only practice.

Still, I have not lost you; I know where you are.
After you drowned in yourself, you woke,
took one deep, sweet, easy breath
and looked upward.

Lisa Bolin Hawkins, BYU Studies 32(3):45 (1993).

Another Remembrance at Easter

mary-resurrected-christ
Today is Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and remember His Atonement, carried out in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross. But there is another important event that took place on that Easter weekend in the meridian of time.

When the resurrected Savior met Mary Magdalene in the garden near His empty tomb, He told her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go unto the brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). Why had He not yet ascended to the Father? Why did He wait until Sunday morning to claim His resurrection? Where had He been while His body lay in the tomb?

According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie, after Jesus proclaimed His work finished and voluntarily died on the cross, “He was as other men in that his spirit went to live in a spirit world to await the day of his resurrection … . When Jesus died—that very moment—his mortal ministry ended and his ministry among the spirits in prison began” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Book 4, Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1981, 240–41).

As part of His mission here on earth, our Redeemer experienced all the things that human beings experience. In this way, He is able to comfort us and understand all our experiences (see Hebrews 4:14–16). Perhaps as part of understanding human experience, Jesus experienced death as we do, going from mortality to the world of spirits (1 Peter 3:18–20; 4:6; Alma 40:12). This visit had been prophesied by Isaiah (see Isaiah 24:22; 42:7; 61:1).

There in the spirit world were the spirits of all the people who had lived up to that point, except those who had been translated without tasting death, such as Enoch (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5; Doctrine & Covenants 107:48–49); Enoch’s City of Zion (Moses 7:21, 31, 69; Doctrine & Covenants 38:4); and the prophets Moses (Deuteronomy 5:24; Alma 45:19); and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11; see 3 Nephi 28:38).

As the prophet Joseph F. Smith recorded in his “Vision of the Redemption of the Dead” (Doctrine & Covenants 138), the righteous among the “hosts of the dead” were eagerly awaiting this event, when the Lord would come to them and His anticipated resurrection would free them to take up their own glorified bodies, the separation from which they considered to be “bondage” (Doctrine & Covenants 138:50; see 138:11–16). The great moment came, and Jesus Christ came to the righteous spirits and “preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance” (Doctrine & Covenants 138:19). Then He organized missionary work in the world of spirits, so the righteous could take to their brothers and sisters who were in darkness the gospel of Jesus Christ,

31 … to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel.

32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.

33 These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,

34 And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

35 And so it was made known among the dead, both small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful, that redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross.

After this intense time of teaching by the Savior in the spirit world, Christ spoke as a spirit to the Nephites in the Americas (3 Nephi 9:1–22; 10:1–8; McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 245–48).

At last the hour was come, and Jesus took up His perfected, glorified body on that Sunday morning at dawn:

Beginning in the spiritual anguish of the Garden of Gethsemane, moving to the Crucifixion on a cross at Calvary, and concluding on a beautiful Sunday morning inside a donated tomb, a sinless, pure, and holy man, the very Son of God Himself, did what no other deceased person had ever done nor ever could do. Under His own power, He rose from death, never to have His body separated from His spirit again. Of His own volition, He shed the burial linen with which He had been bound, carefully putting the burial napkin that had been placed over His face “in a place by itself,” the scripture says.

That first Easter sequence of Atonement and Resurrection constitutes the most consequential moment, the most generous gift, the most excruciating pain, and the most majestic manifestation of pure love ever to be demonstrated in the history of this world. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could … grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to eternal life.

This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that Jesus still stands triumphant over death, although He stands on wounded feet. This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that He still extends unending grace, although He extends it with pierced palms and scarred wrists. This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that we can sing before a sweat-stained garden, a nail-driven cross, and a gloriously empty tomb:

How great, how glorious, how complete
Redemption’s grand design,
Where justice, love, and mercy meet
In harmony divine!

jesus-christ-empty-tomb-goshen-utah-1574218-gallery

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet,” Ensign, May 2015. After Christ’s resurrection, the spirits of others who had died (and had been present during His visit to the spirit world) “rose and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:52–53; 3 Nephi 23:8-13). The stone of death had been rolled away, and the work of the Lord entered into a new light from that time forward. Only then, when all the elements of His mortal ministry were complete, did Jesus take up his perfected and glorified body, appear to Mary Magdalene, and then ascend to His Father for the reunion that They both, undoubtedly, had anticipated and longed to experience. Even after that, Jesus did not remain in glory with the Father, but returned to his disciples in Palestine to teach and bless them (Matthew 28:9–10; Mark 16:12–14; Luke 24:13–49; John 20:19–29; 21:1–25; Acts 1:2–9). And then He went to His “other sheep” in the Americas and elsewhere (3 Nephi 11–26).

jesus-apostles-new-testament-stories-125445-gallery

As we remember the heartbreaking, yet necessary, events of Gethsemane and Calvary, and rejoice in the glory of resurrection morning, we also can remember the merciful and generous visit of the Lord Jesus Christ to the spirits of those who had lived and died on the earth until that time. He declared their redemption from the bonds of death, along with redemption for all who would live and die in time to come, and the opportunity for all who had or would ever live to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. This can be another remembrance that inspires our gratitude toward and love for the Savior at Easter.

Farewell to the Cotton Shop

Cotton Shop
One of my favorite stores, the Cotton Shop, is going out of business because the owners, the Daineses, are retiring. This fabric store, with a zillion bolts of cotton and flannel, batting, and sewing notions beloved of quilters—and people like me, who would like to be quilters, but could more accurately be described as “fabric collectors”—is located at the corner of 500 North and Freedom Boulevard (200 West) in Provo. Their stores in Murray and Sandy are closing, too. This will be a loss to sewers and quilters on the Wasatch Front.

Fabric stores, like libraries and bookstores, are easy to enter and hard to exit. I wander around, looking at the enticing fabrics and designing quilts in my head, and end up carrying bolts of stuff I can’t live without around the store. I look at those fancy quilting machines and wondering if a new sewing machine—mine is a 1971 Kenmore model with some bobbin problems—would convince me to sew some of the projects I have stacked in piles around the sewing room. Then I look up from my collection of fabric bolts; two hours have gone by and I have to decide whether or what to buy, trying to multiply prices-per-yard and calculating in my head how many yards I should get. (Six yards of everything seems like a safe bet, since I don’t know what I’ll need it for.) I usually end up buying two or three yards of whatever I can’t live without, am shocked by the total price—I’m still thinking 1970s fabric prices—take it home and wash, iron, and starch it, and fold the pieces into the neat piles on the sewing room shelves to join their buddies in quilting fantasy land.

My quilting fantasy land is mostly a result of the Elm Creek Quilts series by Jennifer Chiaverini and the Cobble Court Quilts series by Marie Bostwick—yep, I’m really good at reading about quilting and not so great at doing it.

Quilter's Apprentice

I’ve made one quilt, from a kit called “Glaciers of the Inside Passage,” designed by Lisa Moore and purchased at the Rushin’ Tailor’s QuiltAlaska shop in Skagway. We were walking around town when our cruise ship was docked there some years ago; we went into the quilt shop and a completed version of the kit was hanging on the wall. After our ship had sailed off to the next port, I grieved that I hadn’t bought the kit. Alan, who (unlike me) lives in the twenty-first century, suggested that they might have a website, and he was (as usual) right. The lines aren’t exactly straight, but the quilt is hanging above our bed and looks great to me.
Glaciers quilt
I will sorely miss the Cotton Shop’s contributions to my quilting fantasies—going out to Orem to the big chain fabric store just won’t be the same. Thanks and farewell, Cotton Shop.

Unwanted Ads on Your Samsung Phone? Try Uninstalling this App

cell phone
Are you getting ads you don’t want on your Samsung Galaxy phone when you open it? Sometimes they won’t let you close or click past the ad for several seconds, and it’s so frustrating. Look in your apps and see if there’s a “Peel Remote” app that’s showed up since you last allowed a phone update. (It’s black and yellow—I couldn’t find an image of it online.) Go to the Google Play Store, search for “Peel Universal,” and a list of apps will come up. Scroll down or just click on each one until you get to one that has an “uninstall” option, and uninstall it. (You can’t uninstall it from inside the app; you have to go to it in the Play Store.) Don’t pay any attention to a threat that this will affect the way your phone operates—you want it to affect the way your phone operates by getting rid of these ads! Samsung should not be able to install this app on your phone as part of an update without your permission. And there’s nothing in the ads themselves to tell you where they’re coming from or how to get rid of them. Boo, hiss, Samsung!

Lead in the Water and the Golden Rule

clean clear cold drink
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Recently, the town of Sandy, Utah notified residents that they couldn’t drink the city’s water (the problem has since been resolved). A release of undiluted fluoride into the water had resulted in lead and copper leaching from the city’s water pipes. City officials responsible for notifying affected residents didn’t do that until the contaminated water had been in their taps for days; residents notified the city that they were getting sick from drinking the water. The city had issued a statement only 24 hours before the “no drink” order that the water was safe to drink. Several people, including a 3-month-old baby, were sickened. And there is no safe level of lead in drinking water; it can cause neurological damage and other problems for children and infants, even infants in utero. Babies who drink formula, which is mixed with water, are especially vulnerable. The city was cited by the Utah Division of Drinking Water for failure to notify the public adequately and for exceeding safe fluoride levels. (See Amy Joi O’Donohue, “Utah City Delayed Notifying State, Public of Contaminated Water,” Deseret News, February 16, 2019, https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900056140/utah-city-delayed-notifying-state-public-of-contamination-water.html)

Your city should be sending you a water quality report once a year, but in the case of emergencies such as the city of Sandy experienced, we must rely on city officials for appropriate testing and communication to the public. Tragically, the city of Flint, Michigan, experienced contamination of its water by lead and other dangerous metals in 2014, after an emergency manager appointed by the state tried to save money by switching the source of the city’s water from Lake Huron to the heavily polluted Flint River. The Flint River water was extremely corrosive, and the city failed to treat the water (which would have cost about $100 per day); this resulted in lead and copper leaching from water pipes into the water. And city officials assured the public for 18 months, after residents began complaining about the appearance and taste of the water, that the water was safe to drink—even though they knew or should have known about the problem. Five officials have since been charged with involuntary manslaughter in relation to the water crisis in Flint.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Flint’s Hurley Medical Center, was seeing children with hair loss and rashes, and  their concerned parents. By comparing Medicaid-required lead levels in children taken before the water switch and after, she was able to show that lead levels in children’s blood had doubled and even tripled. The state attacked her results for a week before admitting she was right. Then the state started handing out filters and bottled water, but 18 months of lead exposure had already affected children in ways that may not be known for years. (See Sara Ganim and Linh Tran, “How Tap Water Became Toxic in Flint, Michigan,” CNN, January 13, 2016, https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan/index.html)

Dr. Mona, as she is called, wrote an excellent book about the water crisis in Flint and the investigation to uncover it, What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City (New York: One World, 2018). One infuriating thing is that the problem probably would have been addressed sooner, or not come about at all, in a majority-white, affluent Michigan city such as Ann Arbor or Grosse Pointe. Another infuriating thing is that the officials in Flint, and to a much lesser extent the officials in Sandy, seemed more interested in covering up mistakes and saving money, and avoiding public panic (even though it was time for intense concern), than in saving families and children from drinking water contaminated with lead.

One lesson from these types of events is that those in responsible positions must concern themselves more with taking care of the people who trusted them than with hiding their own mistakes, keeping up appearances, or saving money at the people’s expense. It is all a matter of asking, “What would I want for myself and my family?” It’s the Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that man should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).

Poetry: Egyptian Cycle

3C Great Pyramids of Giza

When I thought I might earn a master’s degree in art history, I wrote this cycle of poems in response to an assignment for a history class on ancient art. It may not resonate in every detail with those who don’t know about ancient Egypt, but it may still be enjoyable as poetry.

Egyptian Cycle

3C Stepped pyramid Djoser

Imhotep Speaks (cinquain)

Djoser
king loved by Ra
commanded Imhotep
to make a City of the Dead
guard thy passage onward
temple stepped to sky
king tomb.

Thyka
will climb the steps
enter the solar boat
sail across burning sky by day
friend to gods, friend to kings
welcome Djoser
sun son.

3C Seated Scribe

The Scribe (Spenserian sonnet)

Much-honored scribe of their will, I record
the sacred deeds of gods and kings of all.
In my papyrus miracles are stored
and tallies of the treasures of the hall
where I sit, watching, all writ by my reed.
My eyes miss nothing; my scrolls are the source
of stories to mount up the temple, lead
the eye to power’s glorious, blessed course—
of Amun, Ra, Osiris, Ptah, Thoth, Maat, all give
our god–king’s life and so our souls delight to live.

I am no warrior, nor a laborer,
to risk the battle, brown and sweat in sun;
no sting of whip from cruel overseer.
My king is my brightness; there is none
who does not nod in passing, see my place.
My family lives in comfort and respect,
all cool and linen-clothed and white of face.
My careful hand, so fair, lets me protect
our lives. I dream of scrolls, my ink, my reed; they’re mine,
In rows that rise beyond the reach of death or time.

3C Thutmose Bust of Nefertiti

Amarna: Nefertiti’s Secret (blank verse)

Though Nile refuse to flood and kingdoms fall—
though storm of sand envelop all the tombs—
my record shall say “priestess of Aten,”
and Queen of Akhenaten be my name—
I, Nefertiti, “beautiful of face,”
who whispers prayers at night to my god, Re.
No zealot like a convert. I have seen
my husband Akhenaten serve one god.
His mother, Tiy, once crowned with cobra gold,
now worships Aten in a cap of blue.
This Akhetaten is no match for Thebes,
the grandeur of the Temple of Amun—
I know of columns rising to the sky,
of warriors’ deeds, carved wonder, colored bright.
With other maidens, I learned to fear Re
and love Hathor, to follow woman’s ways.
Who lives with just one god? Who dies with one?
My proud King Amunhotep is no more.
This Akhenaten must not know my heart
is following the old gods, longs for Thebes.
So easy for a wife to disappear—
even a queen and priestess may grow ill.
But my devotion works its magic now:
for on the day we named my noble son,
I showed him to Amun, showed him to Re:
before they took him from me to the priests,
I whispered “Tutankamun” in his ear.

3C Temple Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Egypt  (haiku)

“I am Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Egypt,”
says my Temple
carved in rock.
Born of Amun-Ra,
a god, and Ahmose, the queen,
fragrant in union.

Crowned by King Thutmose.
I brought myrrh trees from far Punt.
I, his majesty.
Cover my breasts with
linen headdress; bull’s tail place
between my soft legs.
Beard my stone face as
Pharaoh—my tomb shall long grace
the Valley of Kings.

temple of Ramses

Hymn of Supplication (chiasm)

Thy daughter Nefertari sings to Isis:
Welcome me to thy temple, sacred one—
queen of the moon; its crescent adorns thee;
nourisher of Horus, to thee I offer rich perfumes.
Anoint my breasts that I may nourish my children.
let the moon grow full, as I grow full of life,
blessed by the gods as queen of Ramses’ house,
daughter of Isis, queen and mother of many.
Grant my children the love of many children,
blessed by the gods to approach the temple of life.
Let them wax in strength and hope and joy.
Giver of wisdom to thy sons and daughters,
Rich as river’s flood to feed the land,
Adorn me with silence and peace, as the moon sails the night,
ask thy King to welcome me to eternity
as Nefertari, daughter of his beloved Isis.

—Lisa Bolin Hawkins

Poem: House of the Crossing

john-baptizes-christ-39544-gallery

In the Come Follow Me curriculum for January 27, 2019, we are reading and studying the first chapter of the Gospel of John. In John 1:19-34, we read that John was baptizing at “Bethabara beyond Jordan,” and that Jesus came to John to be baptized there (see 1 Nephi 10:7-10). Bethabara means “place of fording,” literally “house of the crossing,” and is considered to be a ford of the Jordan River near Jericho. Traditionally, this place on the Jordanian side of the river, now called Wadi Al-Kharrar, is reputed to be the place at which Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land when the waters of the Jordan were miraculously stopped so they could cross (see Joshua 3:13-17; 4:1-9, 21-24). The following poem explores the relationship between these two events—the baptism of Jesus and the crossing of the Israelites into the Promised Land—in the form of a chiasm,* with the central thought being “We cross from death to life through faith in Christ.”

House of the Crossing (a chiasm)

Joshua pointed out the Promised Land
across the Jordan. They must take the step
to stop the flood and cross the riverbed
dry-shod. No vengeful Egypt drove them now,
as when the Red Sea showed escape from death
or bondage. In this quiet, peaceful spring,
Israel stepped between the Jordan’s floods,
cast off the wilderness and were reborn
into the ancient covenants with God.

And still the water flows o’er Joshua’s stones:
Remember, Israel, the covenant birth,
that crossing Jordan conquers death for life—
We cross from death to life through faith in Christ,
as He upon the Cross conquered through death
what Bethabara’s covenant birth began.

And still we take the water and the bread,
remembering our covenants with God;
we cast off sin and death to be reborn,
drowned, drenched, and streaming hope and gratitude.
In quiet peace He breaks the bonds of sin
and death and gives the gift of our escape,
His hand outstretched in love to carry us
and all our burdens through the trials and pain,
if we but take the step, take up the Cross,
as Jesus points to our eternal home.

Lisa Bolin Hawkins

*A chiasm, or chiasmus, is a Hebrew literary form where the writer’s original thoughts are echoed in a reverse sequence, usually around a central, essential point. It is frequently found in the Old Testament and in the Book of Mormon. See John W. Welch, “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon,” New Era, February 1972, https://www.lds.org/new-era/1972/02/chiasmus-in-the-book-of-mormon?lang=eng&_r=1