Wednesday, April 22, 2009

happy earth day

today on radio west they were celebrating earth day via poetry and reading all sorts of lovely, interesting poems, and it made me think of mary oliver, my favorite poet. she deals with nature all the time, and the way it connects us to our own humanity and the divine. so happy earth day dear friends, here is a little mary poem for you.

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


by way of introduction, i am christina thomas......once "tina thomas tickleheimer, now sometimes "lydia the tattooed lady," more often "the Q," always "the bid."

i am a book conservator and bookbinder, a craft which the famous bookbinder Edgar Mansfield describes as "the most unforgiving craft there is on the face of this bloody earth!"

he is right!

but thanks to those unforgiving demands, i have gained some vital insight into hard work, perspective, patience, and learning processes.

after two refreshing, whirlwindy years in boston, i live in utah once again and work as the book repair assistant in the byu library. i am grateful for and content in my job, but not always happy. in an ideal world i would also be a dancer, film historian, baker, and horticulturist. and everything in between, including parent.

i'm excited to be invited as a contributor and listener here and excited to get to know the rest of you folks. i count the 13th article as a close friend and beautiful, billowing statement of belief.

speaking of things virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy.......and of things silly, this past weekend i saw the bollywood movie Om Shanti Om for the first time. on the surface, this movie was sheer delight, a spectacularly silly spectacle, and thoroughly entertaining all the way through its 164 minutes.

nearly every 10 minutes or so the film erupts into song and dance. during one especially exteeeeeeennnnnded dance, my mind drifted a bit and i began thinking about the influence of western popular culture in these movies. sometimes we or others decry our western infiltration and the way it “corrupts” indigenous culture and changes it, rendering it “less authentic”.

but then i considered all the ways many of our cultures throughout the world are interacting with and influencing each other and melding, in large part because of increased mobility and communication technologies. we are all borrowing and lending and trading bits of culture. certainly it’s unfortunate when people demean themselves or their culture in the name of some of other culture being superior. but is the way we are blending such a bad thing?

and then, since the dance number was still going strong, i continued thinking.

naturally my thoughts turned to......gathering. as in the gathering of israel. the gathering of saints into the kingdom of god. we have, over the ages, dispersed and scattered ourselves, developed into unique and fantastically rich and diverse cultures.....

...kind of like pangea and its gradual dispersal
into the land masses we know and love.

i thought of how we are gradually re-gathering ourselves and each other back to the genuine community of God's kingdom, where we will be not a homogeneous, unified culture, but one made up of all the varieties of goodness, artistry, experiences, knowledge, and light of all these individual cultures. so instead of looking on disparagingly at the blending of american and indian culture, i saw this merging--this developing "friendship" between peoples and cultures--and i liked it. tremendously. i love this idea! and i loved Om Shanti Om for inspiring the thought. it sounds a bit schmaltzy to say, but i’m excited about our uniting world. of what we are becoming. it feels epic and unimaginable. deserving of fabulous and grandiose song and dance.

and is it too far fetched to suggest that the physical earth's processes and movements mirror those of its inhabitants? over millions of years, the once united land masses divided and diversified themselves, evolved and expanded. eventually the land masses will spread so far they might just reconvene. just like the children of israel. maybe? it is already beginning, and in the name of this gathering i celebrate the cross-pollination of cultures and the good that others bring and the good that we add. i celebrate the scattering for the incomprehensible richness, depth, and beauty its experience will add to a regathered kingdom of God's children.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

replacing evil with good

“As one that greatly desires the salvation of men, let me remind you all to strive with godly zeal for virtue, holiness, and the commandments of the Lord. Be good, be wise, be just, be liberal; and above all, be charitable, always abounding in all good works. And may health, peace and the love of God our Father, and the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord be and abide with you all, is the sincere prayer of your devoted brother and friend in the everlasting Gospel.”

“Be meek and lowly, upright and pure; render good for evil. … Be humble and patient in all circumstances of life; we shall then triumph more gloriously.”

“We feel to exhort our brethren with boldness, to be humble and prayerful, to walk indeed as children of the light and of the day, that they may have grace to withstand every temptation, and to overcome every evil in the worthy name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -J. Smith

we read this quote today in r.s. from the joseph smith manual, and i felt it was such a wonderful rally cry for us to continue forward. i was especially struck by the line "render good for evil", which is reminiscent of the Savior's command to turn the other cheek, but goes further in connoting a trading in- taking the evil that may come our way and deliberately changing it, or replacing it for something good. i'm curious about what this process looks like in our own lives, how exactly do we accomplish this? i realize that one thing that is crucial in doing this is having the spiritual reserve/strength to 'resist evil' and to instead turn it to good. when we are weak this process is near impossible (at least in my experience). another thought is that something cannot be transformed from dark to light without a purifying process. it is my opinion that that purification can only take place through the Savior. perhaps if we are actively keeping our covenants to act as He would and carry His name we can be capable of accessing the atonement as a source of power in this process of transformation. anyhow. sunday afternoon ramblings.


as most of you know, i've been meaning to start this blog for a long time, it came as a thought this winter and has persisted despite my procrastinating tendencies. the basic idea came after an unexpected, but MUCH needed conversation with an old friend who i'd not spoken with for a long time. we discussed many things, with the central thread tying our many topics together was our shared faith and desire to live, do, and be righteous. i have had such conversations with each of you, individually and in groups, and i felt a strong desire to create a space, albeit in cyberspace, where we could discuss, share and uplift one another. i have no real guidelines as to what or how this unfolds, my only desire is that the things we share and examine follow the creed set forward in the 13th article of faith- things which are virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy. at first i struggled with this idea, not wanting it to become a 'seriously so blessed' saccharine string of cliches and with overtones of footprints in the sand. but i realize that we need to create real space in our lives for sharing those things (films, books, ideas, pictures, stories, etc.) that do bring light and that do inspire righteous living. i guess part of this is a selfish need to feel i have a community in this, despite the physical space between us. i know each of you, and many of you know eachother, and its my hope we can all become, deeper, more true friends. so, post away my dears! and let us be as isaiah instructs, 'trees of righteousness' in this worldy forest in which we dwell. xoxo zlb