With a nod to my Exponent sisters who first introduced me to Mary Oliver, I present this poem. It came to me and whispered its fierce message when I needed it most, as I feel it must for many who stumble across it as they ask the universe for answers. Synchronous and simple, it does what good poetry should.

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

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Poll: The Hard Questions

In life there are moments for each of us where we have to ask ourselves what we want, sometimes just so that we can deny ourselves of that very thing we are longing for or seeking. But why do we believe there is some cosmic value in denying ourselves something that may be inherently good? When does denying ourselves something, become denying our very selves and all that we are? What is the purpose of our most innate desires? Is the ambition that drives us to pursue the seemingly unattainable given to us from outside ourselves, or created out of our need to answer the unanswerable?

I think we can never know what answers we are seeking for ourselves if we don’t learn how to ask the hard questions. Not the right ones, exactly, but the ones that scare us into blindness because we know they will either stretch us with their revelation, or show us that we aren’t yet meant to have an answer. But neither fear of asking, nor fear of an answer (or lack of) should ever be a motivating factor. So I offer a challenge of two hard questions. Ones that may make you angry for a variety of reasons, or perhaps sad, or just excited. Or nothing at all. They may seem tame to you, or incomplete (they certainly aren’t comprehensive, don’t fry me up). But I think for most of us here, at least at some point in our journey, they were, are or will be hard to ask ourselves. But I hope we won’t be afraid of them, for truth doesn’t fear questioning and won’t condemn the path of one who seeks it.

What about you? What hard questions have you had to ask yourself?

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Poll: Residential preference

A month ago I moved with my family to a new home, city and state. From Boise to Seattle, we have experienced more than just the changes and challenges of a major move as a family of 6, but a shift from one type of societal environment to another. And for the most part, after a month of adjusting, I have to say I am really learning to enjoy and appreciate the differences in this stage of my life. In fact, I like it here so much, within a bus ride of some of the best Sushi downtown and walking distance of beaches and parks along the Puget Sound, that I’m already second guessing our plan to eventually move out to the more rural areas surrounding Seattle where space would allow a large garden (perhaps an orchard), chickens and maybe even a cow or goat of our own. I still want those things, but the allure of a pulsing and vibrant city is beginning to weaken my resolve. And with a view of the Olympic mountain range from my bedroom window coupled with world class food and museums at my fingertips, could you blame me?

What about you? What type of residence is your cup of tea? Have you moved around much and tried out a variety of locations or been happy in something similar to what you grew up with? What do you like about where you live? Does the larger environment around your home have a strong effect on you? Why or why not? For me, I’m not yet sure why, but I’m much happier back* on the coast in a more urban (and green) locale.

*My own residential history has included the East Bay of San Francisco, Provo (only one land-locked year), downtown Boston and rural New Hampshire prior to the suburbs of Boise. We’re hoping to stay in the Seattle area long term until one of our children goes back East for college (we get to choose that, right?).

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Poll: Online Feminism

Today’s poll comes from a combination of suggestions from readers Fran and Rachel.

It can be a bit scary to put into words – especially searchable words that anyone can read – how we feel about issues like inequality in the Church. But I’m grateful that so many brave women and men choose to open themselves to new ideas and perspectives and share their concerns with others. Respectful, heart-widening, eye-opening dialogue on issues that affect us all in different and profound ways, is one of the most amazing products of blogs like this one and others.

Do you feel that your participation here is compatible with your status as a fully believing member (if you are one)? Do you believe that you can be open to new truth and faithful to old beliefs at the same time? How do you reconcile the discussions here with your level of engagement with the Church? Do you consider yourself active and believing, skeptical and in transition, or non-believing and distant from the Church?

And, if possible, tell us a bit about why you feel the way you do and whether or not the Church plays an active role in your attitude.

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What’s a vagina?

Red Canna

by Georgia O'Keefe

How do you feel when you hear the word “vagina”? Does it make you squirm? Does it bring to mind a region of the female body that is to be guarded and unexamined unless necessary? Are you comfortable with your vagina, or at least talking about it? Were you taught to call it something else?

What if I were to tell you, that the word vagina in latin means “a sheath or scabbard”, as in “a sheath for a sword”. How do you feel now? Better? worse? indifferent?

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