Right after we sent our resignation letter into the LDS Church in August, I tried to keep my cool, but panic set in. I’d been around other members of the Church long enough to know what a few of them would say. And chances were slim to good that they weren’t too purty.
I found myself particularly obsessed with a fear of losing “the Spirit”–the gift of Heavenly Father’s divine Holy Spirit I’d been taught was to come into my life in abundance at baptism, and would stay with me as a guide, so long as I lived worthy by following all of the commandments of God….and stayed a member of the Church.
A few months before, friends of ours had also left the Church, and my husband was approached by another member-friend who said he’d run into the wife of this family and there was “just darkness” all about her. So, yeah. I had a good idea of what was coming.
Having such a fate befall my just-resigned-from-church-soul scared the hell outta me because I’ve never looked particularly good in black or deep hunter green. But, this isn’t about fashion sense, so stop getting me all sidetracked.
In one of my most favorite LDS teachings on the gifts which flood into one’s life because of the Spirit, I memorized and oft shared this Parley P. Pratt quote:
It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections and adapts them by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to give health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.
In the presence of such persons (who have been thus affected by It), one feels to enjoy the light of their countenance, as the genial rays of a sunbeam. Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy of Spirit.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
Well, it is as long as you are a recipient of such a gift. I wondered if that gift left immediately, or if it would just start to wane over time. Was I going to be immediately un-enlightened, or would deep wrinkles develop real quick when I turned forty? Like I’d been a lifelong smoker who’d suddenly lost eighty pounds and appeared gaunt and sullen.
When we sent our resignation letters into Church headquarters, it came after months (and I literally mean MONTHS) of the most heartwrenching, agonizing, emotionally draining period of our entire lives. And I’m the kid of a nasty divorce, y’all, so it’s not been peaches and ice cream all up in here.
But, exhaustive research and devastating realizations led both my husband and I to feel that the only way we could maintain our integrity was to stand for truth as we saw it. Which meant, in our minds, leaving a Church which we had loved more than life. And to which we had literally given our entire lives. (My husband taught full-time for the blessedly beautiful Mormon high school students in Colorado Springs. Goodness, we love those kids.) Breaking the hearts of our family members. Causing our parents to wish we we’d died as children, thus delivering ourselves to the highest degree of heaven, rather than laughing into our children’s bellybutton’s and squishing ourselves around a breakfast table of hot quiche and winter sunshine.
Oh dang you. You keep getting me off topic.
The point is. For three weeks straight after those resignation letters went in, it would take all the strength I had to walk my children out the door and kiss them safely into the schoolyard before shuffling my way back home, where I would stand in front of the mirror.
Did I have darkness? Had I, who was so seeking an abundance of God in her life, been convicted to a life without light?
I would tip my head left then right. Look into my eyes. Study the lines around my lips. Check the furrow of my brow. Look for changes. Divine any alterations.
Maybe. Maybe I was turning dark. I didn’t see it. I felt open and bright and more human than ever. I felt more capable of looking people in the eye and listening to them and learning about what made them tick and smile and sing.
But would others see dark in me? Would my friends whisper behind their glassy front doors as I drove away from their cherry-scented homes, “yep, there’s just darkness,” thus writing me off among the people of Perdition who’d live eternally in the farthest, coldest place in the Universe, hidden from the Light of God?
I asked myself this everyday for weeks, before showering or wisping on a mask of blush and Bare Escentuals over my splotchy skin. Hi there. Wrong time to reason.
Somewhere in the middle of all these weeks, I hear via radio that our infamous area Metaphysical Celebration Fair is in town.
Brilliant! I texted my husband and told him I’d be taking Saturday off. I was too embarrassed to tell him my plans.
Saturday morning arrived. I woke early, showered, stared in the mirror as per the daily ritual, tossed on a bulky sweater and comfortable shoes. Sat on my bed and breathed.
Then, I started to chicken out. Who the crazy goes for reals to a metaphysical fair, anyway?
I walked downstairs and told the Hubby that maybe I’d just stay around and hang out with the family that morning. “Well, what were the plans?” he asked.
“iwasgoingtogotothemetaphysicalfair” I coughed into a bowl of cereal.
“Really? Cool. Can I come?” he perked up.
“Nope. You’ll think it’s crazy and I was going for real.” I didn’t dare look him in the eye. I was pretty sure he was smirking.
He promised he wouldn’t think it was crazy. So, I had me a partner in crime.
We kissed the kids goodbye, hopped in his Jeep, and sped down to the City Auditorium.
Just past the sign that read “Celebration Fair, Welcome” a nice man in jeans and a Polo shirt took six bucks from each of us, handed us a map, and welcomed us to the fair. He seemed normal enough. The map wasn’t printed on marijuana leaves, and the air didn’t stink of that suffocating incense I used to buy in the sixth grade to pretend I was in the know about incense and Red Hot Chili Peppers and stuff. Things were off to a comfortable start.
“I have a plan.” I told John. “I just want to walk around and watch. I want to see if there is a Healer that kinda speaks to us.”
Most everyone there was a palm reader or tarot card reader. Boo. I’m not that sort of a girl.
There was a wise-looking man wearing a turban and dreadlocks who offered past-life readings through a Britney Spears microphone that teetered on his cheek. He had kind eyes and pearly whites. But, it wasn’t my past life I was here for, it was this one I’m stuck in the middle of right now. We walked on.
A medical intuitionist. A reiki healer. A lady that could attune herself with dead pets. A psychic masseuse dressed in pirate garb. Not even authentic pirate garb. No-go. I was starting to feel silly.
Then. In the very back of the auditorium, at the very back of the stage, we reached a petite blonde lady. She was thin and pretty, dressed is khaki pants and a buttoned shirt. Her legs were crossed sideways and she was deeply engrossed in a book. PSYCHIC BODY SCANNING, was printed on a paper, stuck to the wall above her head. John and I looked at each other and nodded. We liked her. She was unassuming and totally un-showy. John paid twenty dollars for a twenty minute session and asked her how it would all go down. .
“Well, I listen to your body and the Universe they tell me what you need to hear.” Her eyes were glittery, she held John’s hand warmly between hers, waited gently for him to agree to the session, then invited him to lay down on her massage table.
Her hands went in the air. Her eyes closed. And I wept for the next twenty minutes as she told him how good he is, and how much he still has to offer, despite the fact that she felt he was deeply troubled and there was grief on his heart. It was quite tremendous.
And then it was my turn.
I laid on the table and she gently placed warm hands on my stomach. She began rubbing her hands across my belly. Softly. Back and forth. Back and forth. “There’s been a lot of change in your life, too.” I nodded, relaxed into her compassion. She moved the air around me up and away. She rubbed my shoulders and touched my hair. Talked about children and peace and buying only that which inspires. There was silence for a minute, then she came back to my belly and stood there silently, eyes looking up at the sky as if she were looking to God. Only her eyes were closed.
“The Universe needs to to know something. You are light. Every molecule in your body just bursting with it.Every move you make blesses this world for the better. You must know this. You have to know this.”
I open my eyes and tried to find her through my tears. “You couldn’t have known. You couldn’t have possible known,” I whispered. I told her everything. Spilled my ever-lovin’ guts about how I’d been so afraid of the darkness. Feared the loss of light.
She got real still. Pressed her hand to my heart. Then giggled.
“Oh, darling. No. You are light and love with pure intent, and nothing you do will ever take that away from you.”
It’s a dang quiche, people. So why do I tell you about light when I stand here, offering up a messy-lookin’ breakfast quiche?
Because the two are inextricably connected. Sillies.
In the brokenness of our humanity, we sometimes forget. We forget that we are worthy and wonderful. We put labels on God’s love. We think that the things we do go unnoticed or aren’t enough. That the glasses of cold orange juice we pour for our little people over breakfast aren’t half so important as hours spent at PTA and church and work meetings. That bacon gravy is just a smudge on a plate. That somehow or another everyone else has got it figured out, and we are the only ones struggling like mad to fit it all in. To figure it all out. To find that blessed place of beauty and balance and belonging.
Somewhere inside our day, we forget that we are light. That every move we make in love brings more love into existence. That every bandaid placed on a papercut finger, every slice of quiche shared with a hungry husband, every email buzzed off to a friend is a connection to the Divine. And that everything. Everything. EVERYTHING we do matters. Makes a difference. Embues ourselves and our world with that breathtaking wordlessness that is spirit and soul and light.
Call it Life Essence, Enlightenment, Christ, or the Holy Spirit. It is us. And we are it. And every ounce of good we do–no matter how small, no matter how scary, no matter how contrary to every else’s rigid rules–is a gift of light come through us.
That is my long answer to your short question, Jaimee. You are light. We all are.
Let it shine. Shamelessly. Undoubtedly. Imperfectly.
Butternut & Red Potato Quiche
FOR THE QUICHE:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup onions, diced
3 cups fresh spinach
2 red potatoes, zapped in microwave until soft
1 cup butternut squash, cubed
1/4 cup water
2 ounces fat free cream cheese, cut into small pieces
5 ounces parmesan cheese, shredded
salt & pepper to taste
1 prepared deep-dish pie crust
For the (optional) CREAMY BACON GRAVY:
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup bacon bits
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then toss in the garlic and onions. Cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and toss in the spinach, potatoes, and cubed butternut squash. Mix together.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Toss is the cream cheese. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top of the eggs, sprinkle the flour over the top of the parmesan cheese, then stir it all together. Add salt and pepper to taste (about a teaspoon of salt, for nice even flavor).
Pour a small amount of the egg mixture into the bottom of the pie crust. Add a layer of the spinach & butternut squash layer, a little more egg, a little more veggie mixture, and back then forth, until the you've filled the crust and used all of your ingredients.
Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until the center of the quiche is set. Cool before serving.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk together the milk and cornstarch then pour into the melted butter. Add the Italian Seasoning and bacon bits. Pepper generously. Heat just until thickened over medium-high heat, whisking constantly to avoid burning. Spoon over Quiche if you so desire. Enjoy!