Friday, December 30, 2011

Church Talk - Full Text

My talk went well. The chapel was full and the music was amazing, so that helped. I recorded the talk, but the sound quality was not great, so I am just going to publish it as I spoke it below.  I wrote it once and it was not so good, but then I decided to write it again so that a 5-year-old could understand it, and it was much better. I had a dream the night before that I forgot to print it out, so I spent most of my dream trying to remember my talk, so when it came time to actually give my talk I had most of it memorized. I hope you enjoy it. Happy New Year!

Mary and Elizabeth
Good morning and Merry Christmas. My name is Felice. And I’m new to the ____ ward. I would like to honor everyone for being here today on this beautiful Christmas Day. And I would like to invite everyone age 4 and up, (because this talk is for all ages,) to put down whatever you may have in your hands, unless it’s a baby,  place both feet on the floor if you can, and take the deepest breath that you’ve taken all week. And whatever it took you to get here today, just let that go, and just listen as I read you a poem:

4. Mary’s Visit with Elizabeth

It all went well from the very start,
Although sometimes when climbing she was aware
Of the amazing thing far inside her body.
Then she would stop, and breathe, on the top of a high
Hill in Judea. It wasn’t the land around her,
It was her own abundance that surrounded her.
As she walked she felt: No woman will ever
Have any more largeness than I have now.

And she recognized a longing to place her hand
On her cousin’s big belly, farther along toward birth.
The two women bent toward each other;
Each touched the other’s dress and touched the hair.

Each one, full of her own holy treasure,
Found a safe place at the side of her kin.
Ah, the savior in Mary was only a blossom
But the joy of it roused the little Baptist
In the womb to hop and leap about.

That was from Rilke.

And now, I have an important message for everyone here. And it is that you are all smart and good and you have within you the ability to achieve beyond your wildest imaginings. And because it’s December, and the New Year is just around the corner, perhaps you have already been thinking about some of those dreams or resolutions for change and that you’d like in the New Year.

Well, what I am here to tell you, is that what you project onto the future, is actually here now. In this moment. The dream or change that you desire, has already entered your heart and is no longer even there any more. It’s now in your blood stream.

I shared this part of Rilke’s poem from The Life of the Virgin Mary, because I love the image of baby Jesus as a little blossom in the womb. And how Mary is just beginning to feel the wonder and awe of her pregnancy and the changes to her body.

We know, but we sometimes forget, that Mary did not become Christ’s mother at the moment of his birth. He had to grow inside her, underneath her heart for 10 months, just like all babies get here.

And that is how almost everything works. Almost everything grows inside of us, and then is born. In fact. Rilke, the same poet who I just read, is famous for saying “Everything is Gestation and then birthing.” Gestation, for the kids who are listening is just a fancy word for pregnancy. And when he’s saying that, he’s not talking necessarily about human babies. But we grow and birth other kinds of babies all the time--like, a beautiful art project, or a book, or a change in behavior. All these things grow in our hearts for a while before we may actually make the art piece or decide to get baptized or to get married or become a superhero.

My daughter, Phoebe, told me 9 months ago, when she was 4, that when she grew up, she wanted to be a prophet. And so I asked her if she knew what was involved with prophet work. And she said no. So I told her, that according to the Bible Dictionary prophets (not to be confused with THE prophet), prophets teach righteousness, and they testify of Christ, so any of God’s people can be prophets or prophetesses. And she thought about that, and she realized that she was already doing that, and I agree, she is a great prophetess.

Phoebe also wants to be a mom when she grows up. And even though she doesn’t have a real baby. She is such a good momma to her kids.

So whatever your intentions are for the new year. I’d love to invite you to embrace the idea of how you already are, or do or have what you want and hope for.

We know that Jesus Christ, as a wee little baby, did not know everything about of his divine mission at first--the scriptures say “from grace to grace.” But that didn’t change the fact that even as an infant he was the Savior of the world.

Another example is Adam and Eve? Both Adam and God, when they were talking about  Eve, called her the mother of all living, before she ever had a baby.

And thousands of years before Jesus was ever born and did his Atonement for our sins and sadnesses,-- everyone on earth including Adam and Eve, could use to the benefits and power of the Atonement, as if it already happened.

When I think about the young Virgin Mary, I’m sure that that the angel’s visit to her was the beginning of her relationship with Jesus. She had to have already known that he would come, and loved him.

Just like even though my daughter is 5 years old. My relationship with her has been much longer than that. And, I was an author long before I ever published a book. And I was a healer, long before I ever knew I would become one.  

I think it’s wonderful, that even though we know Jesus was really born in the spring time, that we celebrate His birth in December, just a week before the birth of a new calendar year when so many people decide to be better. And it’s because of Christ and his life, that we can do that.

Birth stories are magical and inspirational (especially the ones in my book). And I think it’s no mistake that one of the most powerful and most told stories in the Christian Cannon, is a birth story. And that baptism, that first ordinance that gets us in the door to Christ is likened unto birth.

If I could have one wish for everyone this Christmas day it would be that we could all take that pure, wonder and awe and miracles-are-possible spirit of Christmas with us into the New Year, and remember that everything is gestation and then birthing. And whatever your goals, even if you can’t tell the birth story of that goal yet, remember each step of the journey has value. And by appreciating each day and each step, you honor the pregnancy as well as the birth. And if you ever feel stretched or heavy along the way, perhaps you’ll stop on a hillside to breathe and recognize that you are carrying holy cargo, and perhaps it is not heaviness, but abundance that surrounds you.

And if I could have a second wish it would be that we can all recognize in each other, the good fruit we are each gestating. And have joy for each other and for what we are becoming, like the little John the Baptist, who hopped and lept about for joy in Elisabeth’s womb.

And I say all of this in the name of our savior Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Volunteering for a Church Talk

I just moved to a new ward a few weeks ago and I am loving the energy there. I don't have a calling yet and last week I was wondering what they might call me to do. As I was lying in bed thinking about it I had this feeling that I would be speaking in church on Christmas Sunday. Well, I thought, I guess that makes sense, I have been writing a book on birth for more than 3 years so I guess I can talk about Jesus' birth.

But they hadn't asked me yet, so I decided not to worry about it till they did. I had another speech to write for the AHA conference. But I kept having the feeling that I needed to volunteer to speak--that I should call up Sean, who is a friend of mine, and in the Bishopric, and tell him that I want to speak on Christmas day.

But you just don't do that. I kept thinking. Besides, what do I have to say?

I ignored the weird urge to volunteer for a talk I wasn't asked to give and went about my business. After my Saturday AHA speech was over I went to our ward Christmas Party that night. As an aside, it was one of the best ward Christmas parties ever. We invited the Mt. Olive Baptist Church to join us (our ward has been tutoring kids at their church for a year). Do I even need to say it was a hoot nanny? Perhaps you can imagine what happens when Mormons and Baptists get together to celebrate Baby Jesus. No? Imagine a road show with some gospel music thrown in and plenty of "Amens!" and a north pole visitor.

At the party, I saw Sean and said, "Hey, who is speaking on Christmas day?" He told me that one person from our ward and one person from the other ward (with whom we are combining with for Christmas), would be speaking. Whew, I thought. They have it covered. I guess I shouldn't have been so presumptuous to think they wanted me to speak.

But the next day during sacrament meeting Sean got up and said, "Everyone knows that I am a very important person and I'm really busy and sometimes I am forgetful. So could you please raise your hand if I asked you to speak next week?" 

No one raised their hand, but guess what? My hand went up. He looked at me as if searching his memory. Nope. Blank. He narrowed his eyes and said. "We'll talk later."

I told him that he must have been sending me telepathic messages. Or God was, while Sean was being forgetful. 

So that is the story of how I volunteered to speak on Christmas day. As of this writing I am still not exactly sure what I will say, but I also think that I have been working on it unconsciously for a few weeks now. Gestating it. And I think it's about to be born tonight.

Apparently I need to be the one to say it, and I'm sure God will let me know what it is. I'm sure I will learn from it. And since Phoebe will be there, I hope she learns something too. I can sometimes get really deep, but I am going to try to write it so that even a 5 year old can understand. Because ultimately, the gospel is really simple. Just like birth is simple. You just have to trust in the Great Love and keep moving forward. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful the that hour just before sunset when everything is golden. For beautiful beaches so close to me, and for great uncles who like to play with Phoebe.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thankful Thursday. On Friday

I am thankful for my blog reader, Tori, who invited me to do Thankful Thursdays a long time ago and who didn't take it personally when I didn't. You see, I don't always like to be committed to blogging on a certain day or on a certain topic. But gratitude is not something that is far from my mind at any time, so I am going to try to incorporate it into my blogging schedule. It might not always be on Thursday or every week. But here goes:

Last week I took my daughter to the temple (in my heart) and prayed about what to do to be the best mom to her, to mitigate all the negative messages out there, etc. I am grateful for the answer I received. The answer was make art of the temple and hang it in your home. So I spent a day making this collage out of an old Book of Mormon, foreign money, magazine pages, a travel guide of Italian cathedrals, and blue paint. I am going to hang it inside a big naked frame with the wall behind it as a the matt.

My rendition of my beloved Los Angeles Temple

Phoebe thought it was the coolest thing ever when she came home and saw me finishing it. This is what she delivered under my bedroom door the next day.

I heart the way God works in simple ways. I think I was expecting to be guided to some parenting book or something, but instead, He said, make art.

Sigh. Heart.