Olea Corcoran

The world has many edges, and it's easy to fall off.

Peace

Sometimes, I think my superpower is knowing other people - seeing them as they see themselves, and as they don’t dare to see themselves. I have been unable to fully do the same with myself. I need to take better care of my body - get more sleep, drink more water, feed my body (in a timely manner) with things that are good. I need to take better care of others - devote more time and attention towards one problem, choose one thing in the world that will improve because of me. I need to take better care of my spirit - meditate, ponder, pray with all the energy of my soul, be spiritually present to the reality of the world around me.

I need to write. I need to learn. I need to stop trying to avoid my unknown future.

Deep breaths.

Fear

Even after two months of sitting with my word for the year (clarity), my fear already seems smaller and more manageable. I have been slowly coming to the realisation that I already have everything I need within myself, and it is dissipating my concerns that others will withhold answers, or stop me from seeking and questioning, or that I'll always have this darkness clouding my mind and emptiness inside my heart.

I already know what I need to do. It's not a question of being told or figuring it out, it's a question of willpower and action.

Of course, the worries about how other people will react to me are still somewhat there - I can't control that, or even always predict it - but they hold much less sway, now that I remember that I'm okay by myself. I know I'll never really be alone, because I contain multitudes. It's all very old fashioned (God dwells within us) or new age (we are one with the universe).

Either way, I don't need to hold on to fear. So, farewell, my friend. Thank you for working to keep me safe, but I'll be okay. I have hope, more than ever, that things will be okay :) I can do this. The world seems lighter already.

Obsessions, Tracking and Data

We're about to go to the family cabin, near Yellowstone, and I've been looking for books to bring with me.

I remembered that Stephen Soderbergh has a list of his 2014 Media Diet, chronicling all the books, movies and TV shows he read and watched throughout the year. I'd heard about it, but hadn't seen it until yesterday. When I looked, I immediately wanted to track all my own media consumption for the year, so I've revamped the old "Books" link into a "Media" section. I could check with Netflix and Goodreads, but I don't know which movies I've watched already this year, so it'll just have to start properly from now. I'm still not sure if/how to include podcasts and music.

I hope that it provides some insights, and I'm pretty sure it'll provide incentive to make good choices. I really like to watch TV and movies, and I would like to study and watch them with intention - to build my literacy in visual media, and make connections between different styles, choices and ideas.

And, speaking of obsessions, I'm fairly sure I'll watch Soderbergh's Raiders of the Lost Ark in Black & White, with no speech, and a modified soundtrack, at least once. It is a thing of beauty.

Psalm

My God does not sleep
and takes not his eye from me

He will hear my cries
and turn to me in mercy

My feet are steadied
and my path is made clear

I will shout in joy
and praise his name forever

Easter Thoughts

I know that my Redeemer lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives.

This post at the Exponent fills me with comfort, and wonder that the Saviour is my Redeemer.

He lives to silence all my fears, He lives to wipe away my tears, He lives to calm my troubled heart, He lives all blessings to impart.

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. (Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus). There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one that sat at the table with him.

Christ had not long since raised Lazarus from the dead. But first, He wept. For his own grief, and for Mary and Martha - for their grief over Lazarus, and their faith that if He had been there, their brother would not have died. But this miracle was also a foreshadowing of His own death and resurrection from the dead. Was He also weeping in anticipation of their grief for Him? 

Martha had proclaimed her testimony that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, even before the miracle of bringing back her brother from the dead. During this meal, Mary showed her testimony of the Saviour's divinity and purpose.

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair

Judas complained about the money that could have been used to feed the poor, and Jesus Christ, instead of rebuking him as a liar and a hypocrite for stealing from the money for feeding the poor, defended Mary. He honoured her witness of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King, and accepted her love and faith, and taught the disciples that against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

And He was killed, and, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake and rocks rent; and He was buried.

Early on the day after the sabbath, while it was still dark, the women approached the tomb and wondered how they would open the sepulchre - only to see that the stone was already removed. Mary Magdalene stood without at the sepulchre weeping. When two angels in the empty tomb asked her Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid him. Then, seemingly in her grief, not recognising that they are angels, she turns away from them, and saw a man standing and knew not that it was Jesus.

She asked, if he has moved the body, where it is and she will take it away. She has no room for anger, her heart is full of sorrow. And then, with a word, just by saying her name, the Saviour heals her and fills her heart with hope and love and peace. The Risen Lord is the Redeemer of us all - not just from death, but from pain and affliction of every kind.

Our fears, our tears, our troubled hearts, the Saviour knows them all - even before the atonement, he mourned with those that mourned, comforted those that stood in need of comfort, caused the lame to walk and the blind to see. He died that we might live again. And then He rose again, and not only is He whole, He can make us whole.

March: Relief Society

My post this month was accepted as the guest post at segullah.org, "a journal designed to encourage literary talent, provoke thought and promote greater understanding and faith among Latter-day Saint women".

My post can be read here.

February : Love

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
- C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves 

Love means sharing, giving some part of ourselves to another, with no control over how they react. It might be as simple as passing on a link to a new favourite song, or as complicated as writing poetry. As commonplace as making dinner every night, or as out of the ordinary as planning a ride in a hot air balloon. Because we love, the thing we share becomes more significant. And there's always the risk that our gift won't be accepted in the way we hoped, that our love won't be returned, that we'll be hurt - but when that love is returned, we each take part in the sharing, and rather than one person giving and the other receiving, we create together a new thing.

I love easily and deeply, my heart is often wrung and even broken, but so often it is filled and enlarged. The times I feel closest to Heavenly Father are the often the times that I feel closest to another person - the times I feel that I can see them the way He does, and for just a second share that divine perspective. I have, at times, tried to fill my time with hobbies and distractions to try and get over a heartbreak, to hide my heart away until it heals. But time alone doesn't heal, it only changes things, and putting up walls around my heart only made it more difficult for others (and Heaven) to get through.

Love hurts sometimes, but if there is no way for my heart to be safe, I would rather surrender to love than fight against it. Love has the power to connect us to each other, to treasured objects, to places and times. Because of love, we exist as more than just ourselves. Through love, we become part of the eternal and infinite. And while it is exasperating, awkward, distressing, troubling and difficult to share something without being sure how it will be received, the rewards are so great. Where Love is, there God is also. Where Love is, I want to be.

January: New Beginnings

I ran through the house, appraising the merits and drawbacks of each room with a glance - window size and outlook, wardrobe space, proximity to the bathroom - and rushed back to claim the best option as mine, before any of my siblings finished their tour. A brand new bedroom, bare and empty of furnishings, before the boxes start to arrive: a place full of possibilities and promise. That time was the sixth, and it was just as exciting as the first.

I love fresh starts, new beginnings - usually in the form of physical events, like moving house, starting a new school or spring cleaning. Even if it's a mental reset, as with a new year, I go through a process of purging everything. If in doubt, throw it out. It's easier to start over again.

If I regret throwing something out, I can buy a new one. If I miss friends, I can meet new people. There's something incredibly alluring about the simplicity and finality of burning your bridges, but it assumes that everything (and everyone) is replaceable.

Because of my penchant for beginning again, I'm good at making friends, but not keeping them. I'm good at finding clothes that suit the short-term, but my wardrobe is not cohesive. My skills at restoring a room to something resembling order, after a certain point, don't go far beyond "buy several large garbage bags".

This year, I have the promise of another fresh start - I'm moving to Europe for a year - and it's been hard to fight the reaction to throw away (or donate or recycle, of course) every item I can't physically take with me. I don't want this year's fresh start to be a disconnect from everything that came before it. This year, I want to build on from where I currently am, instead of starting over. This time, I want to leave my bridges intact.

I have started written correspondence - the old fashioned way, and email, and Facebook - with some dear friends from home, and they'll be involved in my life still. I'm documenting my trip as part of my ongoing interest in art journaling. I've asked mum for recipes and cooked them that night. I think that this time, my bridges are safe.

Christmas Thoughts

I was asked to prepare a talk for church this week - the week we celebrate Christmas. My topic was "wise men still seek him", and this is the result of my ponderings.

If you ask any adult their favourite part of the Christmas season, chances are high that you’ll hear about the food. But, we all know Christmas is about children. Laura Ingalls Wilder said that “we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time”. And if you ask any child about their favourite part of Christmas? It’s all about the presents.

The sharing of presents is linked to the story of the Wise Men, found in Matthew 2.

 1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

The wise men knew the Christ child would be born, and were watching for the sign, and were prepared to seek Him once they saw it.

 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet,
 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Herod’s priests and scribes could tell him of scripture that taught of Christ’s coming, but we all know his reaction to the information - he asked of the wise men: “when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”

 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

The wise men sought the Saviour to worship him, to bring him their treasures.

From Old Testament times, prophets have looked for the coming of the Saviour.

When the angels visited the Shepherds to proclaim his birth, “the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go … And they came with haste”.

Simeon prayed to have his life extended long enough to see the Redeemer he was waiting for, and Anna, the prophetess, after seeing the Christ child “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

Throughout his mortal life, many more would seek him. Multitudes of thousands, to hear his words. A woman who touched the hem of his robes, to be healed.

Just over 30 years from the sign of his birth, in America, “the people began to look with great earnestness” and “he did truly manifest himself unto them”.

In the early 1820s, Joseph Smith wanted to know which church he should join, and sought Jesus Christ.

After Christ speaks with the woman at the well, and bids her to bring others, they say “Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” As we seek for the him, we come to know him, and we can come to be like him.

One of my new favourite Christmas Carols, which I heard for the first time at our stake sacred music night asks:

Do you have room for the Savior? And do you seek Him anew?
Have you a place for the One who lived and died for you?
Are you as humble as a shepherd boy, or as wise as men of old?
Would you have come that night? Would you have sought the light?
Do you have room?

The Saviour asks, encourages, pleads with us to seek Him, to come to Him.

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”

“will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

“and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”

As we come unto the Saviour, we will find joy, peace and rest.

Christmas is a time of giving presents to those we love. To show that we know them, to bring them joy, to share our love.

What shall we give to the babe in the manger?

King Benjamin taught “that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”

He has given us so much, and when we do what he asks, he blesses us even more. What can we give?

Another carol I love expresses this idea as well.

Great kings have precious gifts 
And we have naught 
Little smiles and little tears 
Are all we brought.

Fortunately, that’s all the Saviour asks us to bring him.

“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit”

He asks us to bring him our pain, our sins, our humility.  He loves us - he wants to be a part of our joys and successes, but more than that, he wants to help us through our sorrows and failures. As we seek him, we will include him in more of our life, and become more like him.

Of course, there is one more gift we can offer him. The clue is in Matthew 25:40 “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”

Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol says “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”

This Christmas season, and throughout the year, let our hearts be filled with love towards others of Heavenly Father’s children. Christ wants us all to come unto him. Through the atonement, crucifixion and resurrection, we all belong to Christ. Let us show our love for Him, by keeping our covenants to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, by finding ways to help and show love to all those in our acquaintance. Let us show our love for him by looking after those he loves.

This Christmas season, and throughout the year, “Oh come, let us adore him”.