Saturday, January 29, 2011

His Boots Now Stand Empty

In early December I went with Lois and Don to our Uncle Boyd's funeral, the last of the three brothers to pass away. The highlights for me were Afterglow singing, the stake president's speech (he among the younger children in my growing up neighborhood), and the fly-by at the cemetery. The stake president ended the funeral with a poem written by his wife. I tried my best to get a copy and finally -happy day- it arrived. You'll readily see why I wanted it.

His boots now stand empty – there by the back door.

His feet will not fill them to go do the chores.

Just one pair of many – worn out and long gone,

Yet his footsteps still echo in our hearts like a song.

His boots weren’t always gleaming – with a spit-polished shine.

The truth is, most often, they were covered with grime.

They climbed on the tractor, they hopped in the truck,

They shared space with shovels digging trenches in muck.

By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat thy bread,

Seemed eternally woven into every boot tread.

His boots traced his pattern – hoeing row after row,

He rose before sunrise, to feel morning’s fresh glow.

Yes, his boots oft sat idle but his feet did not rest.

Boots simply wouldn’t do, when he dressed in his best.

They were frequently traded for dress shoes with laces,

As he went forth to serve, standing firm in holy places.

A good man, a great man, a giant of a guy,

In boots he loved working – a twinkle in his eye.

Many pairs of boots served him throughout his great life,

As his dedicated labors served the Lord, his children, his wife.

Besides boots, his feet were shod with the gospel of peace,

That knowledge sustains us, in the days of our grief.

He thrust in his sickle with all of his might,

Now he’s secured his salvation with all of its light.

Yes, his boots now stand empty, there by the back door,

But his footsteps will linger in our hearts evermore.

In memory of Boyd L. Fugal by Jill Taylor Ringger,

Stake President Mark Ringger’s wife.

Slightly modified by Gail F. Adamson

to “fit” all the Fugal and Sons boot-wearers. 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It never ceases to amaze me how interconnected spiritual awareness and utter despair can be. No, I'm not saying I'm manic-depressive, I'm saying take a look at James Chapter 1. The NIV version:

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.18

Now I only quote the NIV to get your attention. And these are my illustrative experiences of late.

We moved from one church building to another half a block away. I suppose they though it would be nice for us to pass more of our neighbors as we sally forth, since those on one church's side of the road now cross over, and vise versa. Especially on a day like today when I fell trying to skirt the extra half-block's black ice. The old organ was an Allen digital. The new organ is an Allen Protege. Not that it isn't digital as well, but I was warned it needed to be figured out. First I had to find a manual as the envelope in the bench was empty and none of the clerk's offices were forthcoming. According to the manual you have acquired the most advanced electronic organ ever built, one that harnesses a sophisticated custom computer system to create and control beautiful organ sound. Then I discovered none of our more accomplished organists would be available to play it the first morning we'd meet there. So then I found a willing novice, which turned out was no small feat, and after I read the manual (and invited her to read it which she never got around to), we paid the chapel a visit. And another visit. And another visit. One nice thing about the new building is there are no locks on the chapel doors, so if a car is there, you're in like Flynn. Well I suppose that was not quite the idiom to pick... (just waking you up from your slumber). Suffice it to say the regular organist in 10 minutes figured out more than we did in hours. Today, his second Sunday, he blew us all away with his snazzy style. So all that frustration culminated in a world made better than the old. And I am prepared to be of actual assistance in that regard when we have the inevitable sub, having scaled that mountain as best as can a former violinist.

(An Allen Protege)

Same deal with choir of late. Came down to the point we'd have only one practice for HC Sunday and the director hadn't picked a hymn, though repeatedly requested. So I studied it out and picked one for her. She wanted to transition a verse to another hymn in that meter and wanted me to align the key (the morning of!). I don't have a printer so I walked her through it on the phone. Somehow she showed up with it in the original key, so can that idea. I'd worked hard doing all the other cut/paste things she wanted done to it, to make it as friendly for the single practice as possible. So the choir is disgruntled and she's passing the buck ("Gail picked it"), and also complaining about the lack of transitional notes re another meter choice she'd made. She'd told me to get the pianist to figure that one out and I had taken the enlarged version I'd made (he has vision problems) to him five days before (his eyes are old like mine), duly noting her request and he hadn't done one thing about it and announced to one and all he didn't know how to do that. Sigh. So I'm feeling pretty discouraged and unhappy about all the kill-the-messenger daggers I'm collecting (several of which I've not mentioned). The day arrives, we sing, it goes much better than anyone could have expected, the HCman gets up and announces that we made him cry and how did we know that he picked that very hymn to base his speech upon. Yes!

I think part of the successful end to these stories has to do with more than persevering and trials of faith and not being deceived. I truly think Heavenly Father blesses us when we give him the chance to see that we personally have upped the ante (I know, I know!) as far as obedience goes. I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to lead the music at Grace's baptism. So preparing for that and witnessing it, I am sure, influenced the outcome of how things went in my life the next day. I always bask in the joy of hearing my sisters and their husbands' testimonies. (Janeil and Eldon gave the baptism and holy ghost lessons.)
Another ante of influence relates to the fact that I do really well at reading the scriptures daily, then my excessive work schedule rolls around for several months each fall and not only does scripture reading fall by the wayside, so does wanting to pick it back up! I also need desperately to get more exercise but my knees are shot and I procrastinate what needs be done otherwise to accomplish it.

I actually don't mind getting old, or being old, but I do mind feeling it. Having my birthday acknowledged (office decorations) reminds me of all of that.

Finally an idea came to me - to do some floor exercising with little knee impact and listen to the Book of Mormon on tape while I'm doing it. I'm actually loving it! The idea came as a tender mercy. As well as finding out today that my next three special numbers and my music outline for all but one selection for the rest of January and February have been approved! Yes! (If you knew the struggle surrounding that process in our particular ward, you'd add a lot more exclamation points!)

And so I count that as joy as well, and feel His awareness of me as a result of all these events. There is nothing better in life that being able to feel God's awareness. And knowing that He's there for us, both in the thick (heartbreaking) and thin (mundane) of things. And so if having to deal with the heartbreaking/mundane trial part gets me there, I'm more than willing.

Lastly, I need to add one more facet in all of this already too long blog, which in many ways Defines The Joy. I'm just as good as anyone else, if not better, at failure. When you make a choice to change something and Heaven Father's included in the process and confirms it by the awareness I speak of above, you can count on it a whole lot more than when He's absent from the goal. I well remember several for-the-better choices I finally made in my life and the struggle evaporated courtesy of including Him in the process.

So to make a very long story short: Count the Joy!