Tag Archives: atonement

Music Moods and Alternate Views

As I was heading to get dinner after a community orchestra concert, I found myself pondering how I listen to different music depending on my mood, or the mood I want to be in:

Hard rock, usually performed by Australian bands, for when I’m agitated or want to be, or when I care too much, so I’m building a hard wall around my heart to keep me from feeling the pain, in an “I am a rock” way (and yes, I have my books and my poetry to protect me, in case you hadn’t noticed 😉 ).

Jazz for when I’m in a happy-go-lucky mood, or wish I was, or whatever I’m feeling, it’s like water off a duck’s back, and it’s not that I don’t care, but it’s all good, “everything is awesome, everything is cool when [you’ve got that swing]”.

Classical for when I’m at peace inside, or am trying to be, or when I am willing to let my heart feel those feelings that are flowing through me instead of building a levy out of back beats, distortion, and power chords to turn them away from my heart.

As I pondered, and decided on where to get my late dinner, I found myself driving to the place of my most serious accident. I didn’t do my annual pilgrimage on the date of the accident this year, so I figured, “why not?” I usually follow the path I rode my bicycle on, but tonight I came from the other direction. A whisper in my mind said, “Tonight you are the car.” I knew it wasn’t meaning I would hit someone, so I drove the path the car took. As I passed through what must have been the point of impact, I was hit with emotions (I was listening to classical, letting myself feel emotions) I hadn’t anticipated.
Auto-pedestrian accident

Grief, for how frightening the experience was for the driver. Relief, that to the driver, it appeared everything was fine, that despite the force of impact and despite my lack of a helmet, I was not unconscious, I was not comatose, and finally, that I was not dead.

I’ve always considered the miracle it is that I lived through that from my perspective (but of course). But now I realize there was a miracle performed for the driver as well! Tears escaped from my eyelids again, and I was glad I was taking the long way to Kneaders, so perhaps my eyes could merely be moist when I arrived at the counter.Sun shining over trees in park

© 2016 H.K. Longmore

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Break Free

Trapped!
You feel stuck inside.
Turn the knob and pull.
Breathe in, break free;
Wide open spaces,
Fresh places and faces,
You can see for miles.

Step out into the unknown,
Let your inhibitions go,
Enjoy the ride.
Take a step inside;
Close the door behind.
As one door closes another appears,
Turn the knob and pull.
Turn the knob and pull.
Turn, turn, turn the knob.
And pull.

Step inside, come inside.
Here’s a nice jacket for you,
Your name on the door.
What you’re about to see?
Don’t panic, it’s all in your mind.
Lay down as you shrink small.
Strap yourself in, follow the hare down the hole.

Do you follow the white rabbit
Wearing your white jacket
In a room with white padded walls
Where no one answers your calls
Strapped in to save from a fall?

Let go, let go,
The doors you’ve opened
Lead nowhere worth being.
Breathe in, break free;
Leave behind the soft cushioned walls.
Open the door, return where you were,
Leave behind the thrilling ride—
Your lonely cage.

Best not to start, but no matter;
Return where you came from,
Return from afar.
There’s balm in a basin,
There’s tears on those faces,
The faces who knew you, though marred.

We can’t tell you how long
Until you’re free from the scars
But trust the promise, it’s not wrong.

Distrust on the rise:
You see no blemishes here—
But that’s proof of His promise sublime.

© 2016 H.K. Longmore

Red Eyelids

Bass Clef mid-F, in eighths.
Bass Clef mid-F, final quarter.
Salute completed, we stand.
To the left a head panned.

Those eyes contained
Unmistakable pain.
Pain at my performance?
Pain at my conformance?

The show must go on.

Standing, Bass Clef top line, staccato,
Then drop an octave, staccato; final note.
Applause.
But still the pain gives me pause.

It was the dry throat,
I tell myself.
It was the sloped chair or stage,
I want to believe.

But my lips, not the stage,
Missed the notes.
My finger, not the chair,
Depressed the wrong valve.

Show concluded,
We pack up and depart.
I watch for those red eyes,
But they don’t look at me.

My silence? Unintended;
Trying to fathom
What I cannot see.
Do I misunderstand?

Rough knuckles,
White back of hand,
In close proximity;
Moment in time ever on my mind.

Copyright © 2016 H.K. Longmore

The Hardest Prayers

Some may think it kind
To pray for others success.
But one may come to find
In that prayer, distress:

He wishes her success in her goals,
He prays fervently for it, but there’s a toll:
Much to his dismay,
Her goals will take her away.

Can he secretly hope she fails,
While praying she gets that letter in the mail?
No, ’tis selfish, ’tis not love.
He’ll send a unified message above.

Each time her departure is spoken of,
Part of his heart withers,
And though it goes against his druthers,
He’ll hope for that which sorrow comes of.

©2015 H.K. Longmore

Is Suffering Really Necessary?

Suffering
Author’s note: I wrote this last week, in two cities and over hundreds of miles in the air, before Robin Williams left our sphere of existence. While that event and the subsequent news and social media flurry may color how you read this, and while some of it may even apply, to think I am making any statement about that would be incorrect.

This post showed up in my FB feed the other day stating:

It is interesting to realize I was taught to believe that suffering was healthy. Suffering isn’t healthy, nor necessary. Ever.

Someone commented on that post saying that pain is necessary, but suffering is not. This idea is not restricted to that post or its comments. Over at society6.com, Josh Lafayette has an art print expressing this idea. And there’s a picture incorrectly attributing the idea to Buddha (the tl;dr version of the article: “Imagine someone in Asia posting ‘Jesus quotes’ (which are actually AA slogans) under a picture of Santa Claus, and you’ll get a feel for what’s [wrong with this picture]”).

The problem with reading the dictionary when you’re doing your spelling assignments in second grade is that you can’t let people misuse their native language with impunity. So let’s take a look at the root word “suffer“, as defined by the descriptive linguists at Merriam-Webster:
You won’t believe what happens next! Oh, sorry, this isn’t bait. I’ll leave that stuff on buzzfeed.

What Profit?

“Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wanted to give a gift to someone. Nothing particularly fancy, but getting it involved a lot of personal effort, and finding something appropriate required a lot of thought. Having selected what I felt would be a good token, I waited for the right moment to give it. I had planned to give the gift without any wrapping paper or other covering, but on the spur of the moment, just seconds before giving it, I changed my mind and decided I wanted to cover it. I used what I knew I had available: a facial tissue paper. I probably would have been better off to stick with my original plan. The moment came that I presented my gift, with a customary greeting for the occasion.

Nothing in my history of giving gifts could have prepared me for what happened next. She looked at my poorly packaged gift and after a moment of silence said, “I don’t think I want your gift.” Hurt, enough that I could have cried had I not been in a relatively public place, I said, “Okay.” I thrust my extended hand into my pocket, dropped the gift in, and withdrew my hand. Calm as a balmy summer day, a trembling puppy frightened by thunder, I walked away. It took all the focus I had to not run, not cry, not look back. I turned a corner, and put on a façade of normalcy as I interacted with those in the vicinity. Returning the gift to the place it was obtained would be impossible, so I put it where it would be available but out of sight.

When I was in junior high, an object lesson was taught using a slice of cake to represent the gospel of Jesus Christ. The cake was shown to the class, and the question was asked, “Who would like a piece of cake?” Several hands went up; one was selected. The person selected went to the front of the class to get their slice of cake. However, before they were given the cake, it was mashed up until it looked like leftovers retrieved from the garbage. The analogy made was that you might have a wonderful gift, such as the good news of the atonement of Jesus Christ, but if you present it poorly, the person you are giving it to may reject it. Thus, you need to take care that your life and your presentation of the gift match the wondrous quality of the gift, to reduce the likelihood that the gift will be rejected. Perhaps she was rejecting my gift because of how poorly it was presented.

There is another possibility. “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:33) Did the presentation of the gift matter at all, or was she really rejecting me? If I was on the other end of such an exchange, I would at least receive the gift, and if I didn’t like it or didn’t want it, I’d throw or give it away. But I have forgiven the rejection and the rejector.

And now I think of all the times God offers His mercy to us, and we reject it, either by refusing to apply the atonement to our lives, or by choosing to apply it for a time only to backslide our way to rejection of the gift. I think of how sorrowful He must be at our rejection of Him. His hand is extended in mercy, ready to deliver us from all the chains that bind us captive; it is extended all the day long, and yet we do not listen. And unlike imperfect me, who ran from rejection of the gift or of me on account of emotional pain, He feels but stands as before, His outstretched hand yet offering the gift. His gift is no apology for a gift, but the truest gift of all: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

The Cost of Comfort

“Oh, my pillow, my soft, absorbent pillow!
What words of comfort have you for me today?”
Cheer up, all is not lost.
“And what will be the cost?”

Two drops is all.
“And what can I get for five?”
You are loved, even if some mistreat you.
You can have the pair for six.

“And how much for a verbal hug?”
Now that’s a tricky one,
A difficult task for a pillow.
What’s it worth to you?

I’ve saved up a lot,
Over days, weeks, months.
I wonder how much I should offer.
Would a cup be too much?

But as I start to pay
The dam bursts,
The stream won’t be held back.
“Is this enough?”

©2014 H.K. Longmore

The Land of Red and Green X’s

In the land of green and red x’s
No dance is ever in step;
Every good deed can be overturned
By the next misstep.

In the land of red and green x’s
Disappointment is par.
Human frailty guarantees
The tally can’t reach the bar.

Red X's, Green arrows
In the land of red and green x’s
The chroma of the red implies
The focus it will have:
The red gains control of the eyes.

In the land of green and red x’s.

Take a little trip,
It’s not too far—
But you can’t get there by car—
To the land of seventy times seven.

In the land of seventy times seven,
Even when a relationship must be severed
That does not diminish the love that grew.
Though the love may change form:

Eros may become Philos;
Either may become Agape,
But surely love
Will yet endure

In the land of seventy times seven.

© 2014 H.K. Longmore

Aggression

This is an older piece, from what seems a lifetime ago, if not a different life. It describes in part the difficulty of returning to a place where all that you thought you knew about a person and their relationship with you was turned on its head. In the “Aggression” alluded to, I managed to hold my tongue, and prevent an assault from becoming assault and battery.

I returned to the place of Aggression yesterday
Though it still seems like today,
As parted have my pillow and head been, torn
Since yester-morn.

The Aggressor was not there.
If he were, to go I could not bear.
Forgiveness he would have feigned
For a time, on a day I felt alienated.

In his heart
Real forgiveness had no part.
He wanted to keep his reign
Of tyranny.

He called that day to apologize
For the way he antagonized.
Wishing to talk to no one, warned by caller ID,
I left curses unsaid and receiver on hook.

The place is haunting now,
Full of darkness and shadows
Everywhere I looked.
I tried cursing a chair
That it might break—doing no harm
To the person who’d sit in it.
Let the La-Z-Boy die in retribution
For my suffering.
No pattern or form to follow,
No magic incantation—

Only me, my mind, my movements, imagination.
Break or not, I don’t care—
I did it, that’s what matters.

Enough about that, lest
My heart get left
In the darkness in the basement, in the theft
Of my pleasant memories,
At the time of the Aggression.

©2000-2014 H.K. Longmore

Related Posts:
  • The Shame of Going Back – Henry Lawson (I love that the Google search for “henry lawson the shame of going back“, without the quotes of course, currently has my old page from my undergrad days at the U as the top result.) Lawson’s poem describes a different situation where returning can be difficult.

The Cocoon and the Butterfly

Oh, return to me, my cocoon!
In days gone by I tried to flee
Thy protecting wall;
Enticed by a beautiful butterfly,
Beautiful, smart, and cunning;
Who passed by to catch my eye.
Confident you were holding me back,
I tried to flee, but it made my skin crawl.

One day I fled, I pushed through thy barrier;
I was free to pursue the dazzling beauty.
But it took time for my wings to dry.
As I waited she passed on signals,
Intended or no, that she fancied me.
At long last, my wings dry, I tested them.
They felt strong, they felt beautiful.

I sought an answer to the paradox
That to know whether I’d like to fly
On a long journey with her at my side,
I’d need to spend more time with her;
Yet making the request could rend her desire.

I forgot lesson learned, and sought
A simple answer to a simple question.
I fluttered and flew ’til I came to her;
The air around was warm,
Warm as the day man discovered fire.
I asked if she would for a time fly with me.
But lo! I took too long, or she forgot,
Or she was filled with treachery, I thought.
I play no games, words at face value take.
My beauty was sufficient, she had already revealed,
But by her words she chose disinterest,
And I, I nearly froze.

Come back to me, my safe cocoon!
Bring back the crawling of my flesh.
Protect me once again, and I’ll grow,
I’ll grow more beautiful than before.
Let her do whatever she will;
I will emerge when metamorphosis completes,
A grander thing with prettier hues.

Can a butterfly enter a second time into his cocoon?

I spent a sleepless night, defenseless;
Vulnerable as I tried to find you, my cocoon.
I carried on with my life, sad, solemn, painted smile,
Until time and circumstance provided that simple answer:
Her response, “Why would you ask me that?”
May have meant something else to her,
But for me it is the pointing finger of rebuke:
By asking that simple question,
I lost a slice of honor, and with it beauty,
As the missing honor reveals my inner caterpillar.
Treachery it was not, but her wings fluttered
More true than mine, flailing and ripping from caterpillar me.

I look about to find she has fled,
Distancing herself by degrees;
A dream I had while still cocooned,
Before I ever saw her, stands partially fulfilled.
In the dream after she fled, I could not find her,
And I became a creature most reprehensible.
Oh take me back, my cocoon,
Heal my self-inflicted wound!
Let me not arrive at the fate foretold.

But can a butterfly enter a second time into his cocoon?
I can’t seem to find you, my cocoon; gone as the butterfly.
So I seek building blocks of water and bread, flesh and blood.

Copyright © 2014 H.K. Longmore

Power Struggle

Think not about Watts,
Not Joules over time,
Nor strength of rhyme
Cast from thought scheming plots.

Not one of delta-delta or wye-wye,
Nor yet of turbine against hydro-flow,Lightning
Nor Quixotic blades by air or lance
Made to do their circular dance.

This struggle is with powers on high;
And powers here below;
Powers of the mortal mind
And powers of human heart.

The struggle brings him to his knees;
Too proud to kneel, he cannot Heaven please.
A power granted once to another
Now his heart smothers—

Power granted was not announced,
Lest upon the opportunity the recipient pounce
And his heart—as the moment flounced,
And his mind seized up by the jounce—
Fail him.

Power over his heart was given,
Not the power to make it riven
Nor the power to with others be shriven,
But towards unity be thriven.

But the power unannounced remains
With the giver, unclaimed,
While under its weight he strains,
And to proclaim itself the power does not deign.

Awaiting resolution from inside or out,
He finds his words lose clout
And the unspoken is not kind.
Fear of losing dear ones makes him start—
He seeks someone to hear his pleas
Again, the struggle brings him to his knees.

Copyright © 2013 H.K. Longmore

Why At-One-Ment Doesn’t Involve Time Travel

Have you ever longed to go back in time and change just one choice so a life event would turn out differently, or a relationship could be preserved or never started?  I have certainly had wistful thoughts along those lines.  No, I lie.  I do still have wistful thoughts like that from time to time.  I went hiking a couple of weeks ago with some of my family.  My sister had spent three summers working at a camp in the area, and took the lead.  We headed toward that camp, then down a dirt road toward the trail head.  We passed a small stream flowing down the mountain and she remarked that the old trail went up the stream, but people kept littering in the (watershed) stream, so the trail was moved, and the old trail blocked off.  A little further down the road, and she indicated for us to turn off the road and head up the hill.  In the winter, this hill is part of a ski trail; in summer, it is covered with wildflowers.  My sister pointed them out, acting the part of trail guide.  Up the hill we continued, until we reached a spot where there was a spur of trail running to the stream.  My sister was wishing we could go up the old trail, so I told the others I was going to explore the branch, no one had to follow, and I would come back and let them know what I found.  My sister said to make sure it went up and not over, because over would lead into the camp.

The branch lead me across the stream.  A short distance further I found another spur that lead up the hill.  I took it a short distance to see where it led, then returned and informed the others of what I had found.  We headed that way.  The spur going up took me back across the stream not far from where I initially crossed.  I waited there to help my nieces and nephews find the best path across if needed.  While we were crossing, my sister had gone a bit further from the spur and found yet another path that led up.  She instructed that we needed to go up that way, so we all headed over. Continue reading