Poem: The Baptism of Eve

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As I have studied the account of Adam’s baptism in the Pearl of Great Price, I have wondered about Eve’s baptism. This poem is my imagination of that great event.

The Baptism of Eve

Moses 6:64–68 (Pearl of Great Price):

And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. And he heard a voice out of heaven saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost.And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity.

She saw that Adam came back from his prayers
a different man.
“The promised day has come,”
he said.
“Your clothes are wet,” Eve answered him,
and brushed a dripping curl that wandered free
from Adam’s glistening brow. He drew her near.
“Come to the clearest pool—”
“Yes, I will come.”
“—the one reflecting heaven. I, by right,
can do for you the service I received
from Holy Spirit’s love.”
“This glorious day
shall see us both renewed, as Father taught,”
the woman said, and took her husband’s hand.

They walked the distance to the waterside—
the pool at the headwaters of the spring.
Eve waded in, head high, as queen to throne,
the grateful heiress of the royal grace.
And Adam stood beside her, said her name,
and laid her into water’s cool embrace,
and called her into depths she had not known.
“This is a type of death,” she thought, and heard
her memory repeat that if she ate
the fruit of knowledge, she would surely die.
“And I have surely died to live in Christ,
as I will surely die, but first will live
to teach my children of His sacrifice,
and mine, and Adam’s. Father, I thank Thee.”
As though no time had passed, she rose again,
Streaming joy to morning new in life.
Beside the pool he laid hands on her head
and gave the Holy Spirit as a gift.

From then they took their water from the place
where that pool fell out clean over the rocks,
and named the falls a holy source of life.
There Adam built an altar and they prayed.
The two remembered always that their hopes
were answered with the kindness of the Lord,
in making a way back to heaven’s shores.

—Lisa Bolin Hawkins

“I Will … Sanctify to Thee Thy Deepest Distress” (Poem: No Regrets)

Jesus comforts Mary and MarthaWe may sometimes feel that we will never heal from things that have happened to us, or from regrets for things we have done or have not done. The Lord has promised that in the next life, He “shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes, and there shall be no more … sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain …” (Revelation 21:4). How is He going to do that? How can the memories of past pain or of our regrets ever be sweet or holy to us?

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed this topic at a multi-stake women’s meeting in Provo, Utah, on 11 November 2017. Elder Renlund quoted the Christian scholar C. S. Lewis, who wrote in The Great Divorce: A Dream (2001), 69 (chapter 9) [Elder Renlund also quoted this in his conference talk in April 2018, “Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing,” available at lds.org]:

[Mortals] say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. … The Blessed will say, “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven.”

Our Savior can, through His mercy, help us to gain a celestial perspective on the painful experiences of our lives. In this way, heaven can “work backwards” to turn the painful and difficult experiences of mortal life into glorious remembrances. The Lord’s holy and heavenly therapy for these post-traumatic stresses will “sanctify to [us our] deepest distress” (Hymn 85, “How Firm a Foundation”).

The Old Testament prophet Joel told of a terrible drought and plague of locusts that  occurred in the land of Judah. However, after the people had repented and turned their hearts to the Lord, God promised in Joel 2:25:

I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.

He who was sent to “heal the brokenhearted” (Luke 4:18) will restore us to wholeness. That which we thought was lost will be found (see Luke 15:11–32)—presented to us with His redeeming love: not new, but burnished with the deep, blazing light of mature reflection and gratitude. As He promised the prophet Joseph Smith, whatever happens, “All these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).

Meanwhile, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught in his talk, “Like a Broken Vessel”:

Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. As President Monson said … : “That love never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there.” Never, ever doubt that, and never harden your heart. Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.

(Available at lds.org, footnotes omitted.)

Here is a poem I wrote in winter 2017 about this idea:

 No Regrets

I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten. Joel 2:25.

Some years I chose drought,
and all but invited the locusts to descend.
Other times I neglected the fields.
At times others caused the drought
or sent the locusts;
my joy was withered by their decisions.

I thank Thee for the promises:
Thou hast felt my fasting with me.
I thank Thee for the healing:
I knew it would come someday
like the rustle of wings.
I thank Thee for those who
take my hands and bring me into the
solemn assembly of tear-stained hopes,
and at last to the harvest of rejoicing.

But I wonder about the fields I never saw green,
the gathering I did not help,
the altars where I did not kneel.
My heart wilts for all I did not choose
and all that others chose to deny me.

And yet—Thou hast always known the
righteous desires of my heart;
and in Thy mercy promised,
to meet my regrets with grace—
I trust Thy loving kindness
to restore all that I lost.

—Lisa Bolin Hawkins

Edited 19 September 2018.

Poem: Late Autumn Night

Autumn Night

Written years ago and revised today, this seems like the perfect poem for the coming night.

Late Autumn Night
Unseen leaves skitter past
In the shadows cast by the frost-calling moon
Hung ominous in the trees:
It sings the newly cold wind–
A wind of harvest past, brown grass;
Not quite numb to the heart,
But dangerously near.
A season is dying here,
And all its bones
Are rattling along the ground,
Whispering, “Hurry, hurry, haste:
This bare gray chill is not for you–
We rush to a hopeless grave;
You are of mercy and grace:
The lamps of home.”

–Lisa Bolin Hawkins

Myths about Ministering, Myth 6: “It doesn’t matter if I report my ministering efforts, especially if I didn’t do anything.”

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Part of ministering is a quarterly interview (or additional contact as needed) with a member of the Relief Society presidency to counsel together about the sisters to whom we minister, their needs, and our contacts with and service to them. It could be a brief, casual report or something a little more formal, and ideally would include both companions. And when a sister needs service beyond that which we or our companionship can provide, we need to contact a member of the Relief Society presidency or the bishopric to ensure that her and her family’s needs are met.

Why do we need to report our ministering efforts?

  • This is the Lord’s plan for seeing that every sister in the Church has at least two people who are looking out for her and to whom she can turn for help, and the Lord and those who administer the program have asked us to report. If that’s not enough, then
  • The ministering reports give the Relief Society president and, through her, the bishop, a good picture of how the ward is working (or not) as an extended support system;
  • The stake president needs to know about ministering in the stake, and it’s hard for him to know how things are going if he doesn’t have accurate reports; and
  • Reports of service let our ward leaders know the depth and breadth of, and needs for, service in the ward. If we think of ministering reports as unimportant numbers or statistics (even though they may represent an important program), consider that without the statistics we don’t know if or how well the program is working. Without our reports, our leaders can’t know if we are keeping the commandment to “sincerely come to know and love each sister, help her strengthen her faith, and give service” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, section 9).

Even (or perhaps especially) if we are having problems with ministering, the quarterly interview gives us and the Relief Society presidency important information about what is happening with our sisters. And the interview is a good reminder to ponder and pray about our connections to our companion, our sisters, every sister in the ward, and most important, to the Savior.

“We are here on this earth to learn and grow, and the most important learning and growing will come from our covenant connection to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. From our faithful relationship with Them come godly knowledge, love, power, and capacity to serve.”

–Neill F. Marriott, “Abiding in God and Repairing the Breach,” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/abiding-in-god-and-repairing-the-breach?lang=eng

Edited and revised, 4 August 2018.

Poetry: Companion for the Journey

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How grateful I am for the doctrine of eternal marriage and families, as symbolized by this picture of the Provo City Center Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“our” temple). When we get married, we know so little about the ups and downs and everydays that are part of what we hope will be a joyous, forever union of two best friends and lovers. Even after forty years of marriage, I am still working on being good at it, and marveling at the opportunities, successes, failures, and blessings that it brings us as we try to work out our relationship to each other and to the Lord. And it all plays out against the epic background and intimate spaces of our Heavenly Father’s glorious plan. Here is a poem about being married, I hope forever.

Companion for the Journey

I choose you as I’ve chosen you before—
a choice that echoes down time’s mirrored line,
unbreaking, first and last, like our clasped hands,
as you led me through gossamer in white
to kneel with you outside time, inside love.

For years we have created our time-world,
and peopled it and nurtured it as best
we could; we have learned life
and death and opposition in all things.
And we have learned each other, more or less,
while you remain a mystery to me—
a depth that my own depth might never reach;
a power that is other than my own.

You are the men with sun-caught swords upraised,
the men who huddled fearful in the trench,
who trod the silent trail in dappled light,
who cracked the stones in hope and sowed the seeds,
who touched, desired, slept, prayed, wept, worked, blessed,
who stood tall, silent, through the watchful night,
who saw the stars reflected in the sea.

Father, brother, husband, son, and friend—
you hold the earth and skies within your hands.
Behind your eyes the molten worlds are shaped;
their spring is breathed from chaos-fiery night.
And while we meet mortality’s dark blows,
still we can glimpse the light that beacons home.
I choose you yet again, as when I reached
to clasp your hand and thus begin the bond
that seals our timeless, time encircling love.

Lisa Bolin Hawkins
BYU Studies 33:2:311 (1993)

Myths about Visiting Teaching, Myth 5: “She’s a strong member of the Church and doesn’t really need us to visit.”

reading the Ensign

Even the sisters with the strongest testimonies need meaningful contact with their visiting teachers. Every sister needs to know that she can call on her visiting teachers if she needs help—and if we haven’t established a relationship with a sister during her good times, she may not feel comfortable turning to us when life gets tough, or even tragic. Plus, appearances can be deceiving. A sister with a strong testimony may still have health problems, an overwhelming schedule, a child with special needs, or other concerns that could be helped by a listening ear or some understanding help once in a while. And even the strongest testimonies could use encouragement. Do we know what life is like for the sisters we teach? Would they call us if they needed something, or do they not know us well enough to admit that they’ve reached a vulnerable moment in life? Sometimes life-long friendships develop as a result of visiting teaching assignments. But even when they don’t, part of our stewardship as visiting teachers is to be available to the sisters we visit, whether or not they seem to need us right now. According to the Lord’s plan for His Church, they do need us—right now. We are the eyes, ears, and hands of the Relief Society president, the bishop, and of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We can learn to love the sisters we visit by getting to know them, through meaningful contact with them at least once each month.

Poem: Preferring the Fall

autumn

I love autumn–here’s a poem I wrote about it.

Preferring the Fall

Summer is lethargy and sweat,
Clothes that wrinkle and wilt,
Plans for later, and wishing you could
Find a shaded place, lie down, and drink,
Close your eyes ’til thunder drums you up
To seek the lightning-heavy breeze.
Curtains of rain lower—
All that water dropping, but none disappears;
The air damps and steams
Like beach towels we left in the storm.

But if you shade your eyes you see fall distance:
Mornings crisp and evenings dry and warm
Like the flaming trees;
Open before you are all roads
Leading from hills and to hills,
All clear-eyed promises and dreams;
Knowing that in autumn,
You must be all you should,
That you can walk, work, rest;
Feel rough, smooth, soft, warm,
Wood, metal, stone, parchment, homespun, bread.
All tools and roads await your highest thoughts
While autumn blazes and cools.

–Lisa Bolin Hawkins