Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Day of Reflection and Contrast

I had a late night last night, and was feeling a little down.  Sometimes temple trips are planned for just the right time it seems, because we had planned to go to the temple today, and I was in desperate need of the peace that I find there.

After sleeping about six hours, I logged on the computer to find the weekly e-mail from our missionary in Brazil.  I didn't think we would get it before we left for the temple, so that was a pleasant surprise.  It was particularly nice since it is the best e-mail or letter we have received so far.  She appears to be thriving -- and I would know if she wasn't because my children aren't very good at "putting on a happy face."

We arrived at the temple later than we anticipated, only 15 minutes prior to the session.  We were asked to be the witness couple, which was wonderful because we have never had a chance to do that in the Sacramento Temple, although we frequently did it in the Oakland Temple.  I was surprised that we arrived that late and they were still looking for a witness couple.  After a beautiful session, we saw our Stake Patriarch, Brother Judd, in the celestial room.  He is also a sealer in the temple, so he asked us to do a sealing session.  Danny and I both love sealing families together for eternity in the temple, and it is particularly wonderful when Brother Judd is the sealer.  Although, Brother Judd did embarrass me in the middle of the session by thanking me in front of the other people in the room for spending several years helping him type his family history.  At the end of the session, I made a point of telling those same people that Brother Judd had left out the part about it being one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.  I left the temple with such peace in my heart -- the kind you only find in the temple.

Danny and I went to lunch at Brookfields.  We had a really quiet, pleasant time there.  Before we left the restaurant, I went to the ladies' room.  By stark contrast to the rest of the morning, there were two women in the restroom discussing their impending divorces.  It struck me that these two women were older than me; one in her mid-60's, and the other in her mid-70's.  One woman said that she was just now getting divorced because she had felt "trapped" in her marriage for years because she didn't feel self-sufficient or prepared financially to "do it on her own."  The other said that she had not felt "trapped," that she appreciated the good things, but that there were things she wanted to change.  She said she'd spent 15 years thinking about this (yes, you heard that right, 15 YEARS), and she just felt this was now the right time to strike out on her own.  It hit me that if she had spent the last 15 years working on her marriage instead of planning for her divorce, she might be happier.

Since we were on that side of town, and since Veterans' Day is in two days, we decided to stop by the cemetery and put flowers on Matt's grave (my stepson), and to the other cemetery to put flowers on Danny's friend Cy's grave.  Cy passed away this last year.  He was a prisoner of war in World War II, and it seemed appropriate to decorate his grave as well.  I drove to Save Mart so Danny could pick up some flowers.  I waited in the car while he ran into the store, and I couldn't stop thinking about the stark contrast of our sealing session in the temple to the conversation in the ladies' room which I overheard.  It was a little surreal.

Our experience in Mt. Vernon Cemetery put all those thoughts to rest.  My husband is the most kind and loving man I've ever met.  I don't think he's ever gone through a day in his life without serving someone.  After we decorated Matt's grave, Danny looked up and realized there was something else we needed to do.  He didn't have to say anything to me because we've been married long enough that I know what he's thinking.  Not far from Matt's grave are three graves without stones.  They just have small markers.  There was a bunch of flowers lying on one of those markers.  Most gravestones have built-in vases for flowers, but the little markers don't have them.  Apparently, whoever left the flowers on the marker didn't know that the office has plastic vases available on stakes that can be pushed into the ground.  Danny's trained landscaper eyes quickly searched the area for a place where someone mowing the lawn would throw a plastic vase to get it out of the way.  It wasn't more than five seconds before he spotted one, picked it up, and headed to the water fountain for water.  I picked up the bunch of flowers, cut off the stems somewhat, and we placed the flowers in the plastic vase and placed it next to the little marker.  We then drove on down the street a couple of miles to East Lawn Cemetery to decorate Cy's grave.

We drove home listening to a Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD.  Words weren't necessary between us.  It had been a good day.  We were left to our own thoughts.  We were left to contemplate and ponder the sacred experiences of the day.

I'm so grateful for the knowledge that families are eternal.  I can't even imagine at this point in our lives thinking about divorce instead of growing old together and looking forward to what comes after this life on earth.  As discouraging as some days get, and as frustrated as we get sometimes as parents, we have hope.  I'm so thankful for hope.  I'm grateful that Heavenly Father let me overhear that conversation today.  It was a great reminder that I have it pretty good.  I'm so blessed!

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