Saturday, December 11, 2010

Can You Imagine?

This time of year is a good time for love and marriage.  Pasty and I were married in December.

The Goates Kids
Back in the day, we imagined having a family.  She always said she wanted a large family.  Her wishes came true.  Having a large family, however, takes a lot more living than merely wishing it into existence.

We were remembering this week, having both recently suffered a mild 24-hour variety of the annual flu bug, that it was a long time ago when either of us suffered that fleeting but uncomfortable malady.  In fact, it was a memorable evening when the flu bug visited our humble abode by striking down one child at a time.  I was the only one who escaped that night, but paid the price a few days later.  Every hour on the hour that night I was up with each in turn, cleaning up the remains, washing sheets, changing beds, mopping bathroom floors and toilets.  It's funny now, looking back all these years, not as funny that night.

We were all together at Thanksgiving, well most of us anyway.  We counted 47 for dinner.  The accompanying picture is the grandchildren who came (some of them).  We were missing three families that day, but saw one family the next day.  Only two families remained at home, one in Montana, the other Chicago.  That condition is soon to be partly remedied, as the Goates family currently living in Chicago is coming home the end of January to live once again among us.  Yippee!

The future is bright.  As I look upon these little grandchildren (we are tending one today), I am always keenly aware of their purity and innocence.  I cannot imagine a man so heinous that he would intentionally harm or injure one of these little daughters of God.  In the expectation, joy and promise in their eyes, we can see the future.  In their countenances we look upon the face of God.

Carl Sandburg once famously observed, "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."

I was amused at a comment Bill Cosby made years ago, when he said, "
Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit."

Ten fingers, Ten toes
She's laughter and teardrops
So small and brand new
And amazingly angelic
She's sent to bless you
She's one special Baby
The best of life's treasure
And will grant and bless you
Many hours of great pleasure.
Author Unknown

Like most of our local community in and around Salt Lake City, we have observed Elizabeth Smart's silent ordeal unfold in a very public and intrusive way since she was first abducted eight years ago in 2002.  Can you imagine that she survived alive after nine months of unimaginable daily abuse, terror and rapacious behavior at the hands of her captor?  This is miracle enough.  That she matured gracefully, surmounted her teenage years and decided to serve as a missionary is unbelievable.

Elizabeth Smart
Brian Mitchell
The contrast between her and her perpetrator is stark!  They shared each other's lives for nine torturous months -- one forcing his will, the other surrendering hers to survive day to day.  Her direct testimony against him is credited with the eventual jury verdict of Mitchell's guilt.
The details need not be repeated here. They can be found everywhere:  Here's the story of the trial's conclusion.  Here's the story of the jurors' news conference.

It's a human interest story that every parent of every little girl hopes will never be repeated.  The world in which we live is filled with terror, evil of every kind and doom and gloom on every newscast.  It's the stuff of which the nightly news is made.  As long as the evil and the horror is news, we can be assured there is still goodness with which it can be contrasted, and that is a good thing.  When we are no longer abhorred and repulsed by it we are past feeling.  That is a frightening prospect.  News, by definition, should be extraordinary -- out of the ordinary.  The mundacity of life is a sign normalcy is still achievable, even in the midst of unspeakable evil.

Can you imagine an outcome that despite all the adversity and hardship, all the improbable possibilities, all the naysayers and all the prophets of doom and gloom notwithstanding, could be fabulous and achievable anyway?

Can you imagine that overcoming whatever evil (no matter what its label) has grabbed you by the tail and is shaking you about like a rag doll, can be eventually overthrown and that you can one day be victorious?

Can you imagine that no matter how abusive or angry or indifferent or unloving your parents may have been to you that you can chart a completely different course in your life and no longer be held captive by the past through love and forgiveness unfeigned?

Can you imagine the worst thing on earth happening to one of your pure and innocent little girls and still being able to find love and forgiveness for the perpetrator even before the slow demands of justice are fully satisfied?

Can you imagine as a victim of horrific crime modeling your responses and taking strength from the example of one like Elizabeth Smart, confronting her abuser face to face, standing up for the truth, recounting all that was taken from you, and rising above it all to serve others selflessly despite all the damage inflicted?

Can you imagine that no matter how negative the news may be today a brighter tomorrow looms up ahead just over the next horizon, no further away than the next sunrise?

Can you imagine seeing the fulfillment of all your sacrifice and service in the faces of your little grandchildren someday?

Can you imagine?

Then someday, like Elizabeth Smart, you may receive His image in your countenance.  (Alma 5:19).

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