A Compass for the Season

Driving home through the light fog and traffic from the park this morning, my four-year old son said to me, “Mom, I was down by the trees and I thought to pray, it was so quiet.”

This was not a reference to Joseph Smith. I asked him if he knew who Joseph was, he didn’t. This was just my tiny boy navigating this world with something greater than knowledge or reason as his compass. [Read more…]

It May Take a While

Over the summer I read Charlotte’s Web to my four-year old son, Remy. After we finished, we rented the movie and watched together. Near the end I got a call and had to leave the room for a moment. I didn’t know it was the part where Charlotte would die, even though I knew it would happen, it still seem sudden, surprising. From the back room I heard my son sobbing and I quickly hung up the call and ran down the hallway. For the rest of my life, I imagine I will regret that I wasn’t sitting right beside him when the wave of sadness came. I am indebted to his strong spirit for allowing me to be privy to one of the most real displays of human emotion I have ever witnessed. His sadness was not attached to anything at all except human empathy, from one creature to another. [Read more…]

Staying, Again.

Every so often, in this life, we are privy to miracles that are as ordinary as the little sparrows that build a nest every spring in a wide pipe that connects my kitchen wall to the outside. For a few blessed weeks every year, I hear them chirping, as I cook the pasta and chop the vegetables right along side them. Every so often my children put their ear to the wall and I see, not surprise, but re-affirmation that the world really is full of magic. It’s strange that we never see the nest because the pipe is covered in such a way, and we can never pinpoint the exact day the birds become strong enough to wriggle through the little hole and fly away, but we know it happens because by June the bird voices are gone.   We know then that the miracle is the flight, the willingness to venture beyond the pipe and into a different space.

In my own life, in the midst of sorrow and chaos surrounding the haven I’ve so long called my spiritual home, I was not only privy to quiet, almost imperceptible miracles that rippled across the landscape of my own heart, but I am, like those tiny birds, testing my wings cautiously, and then, with growing confidence, jumping into a new paradigm which is playing out differently than I had planned on Thursday.

[Read more…]

Some Words For Today

It feels strangely familiar to come to this place yet again. A blank page. A hope that some words might write me back to a place where communion of mind and spirit is possible.

My first week as a missionary in the missionary training center, the teacher asked us to make a timeline from Adam as a prophet to our current prophet. I sat there in my long skirt, pencil poised and looked around the room at my missionary classmates scribbling away, only to realize that I had no idea what to write. I grew up in Provo, Utah, I went to seminary through high school, my parents had been baptized when I was young, but still, when it came to words like apostacy, I didn’t quite know the facts or timelines. I’d somehow missed the details. [Read more…]

Reverent to Reverence

Being reverent is a phrase we grew up knowing, but mostly as the tattle-tale outcast, not as a close friend. Being reverent, for me, meant a behavior, a set of folded arms, a quiet mouth, a bum in a pew. As I’ve grown older, and now have my own kids to teach, that definition isn’t quite cutting it. Of course I believe in teaching my children respect, and of course I don’t let them run wild during meetings, there is value in learning to sit calmly, but nothing else  I am teaching them in their lives lends itself to equating their value in the eyes of God with being silent.

[Read more…]

We need a Mother.

This piece is in response to this essay that the church put out today.

I need a mother.  I don’t need the notion of a mother, or even the appreciation for a mother.  I need a mother that comes with me in the middle of the night to take care of a child.  I need a mother who nurtures my intellect and challenges me to do more. I need a mother who believes in social justice and rages with me when I don’t know where else to go.   I need a mother who validates my wildness and urges my ideas to take root.  I need a mother in heaven, not merely an appreciation at the idea of one. [Read more…]

My Tree of Life

The other day I watched Thea bustle down the sidewalk in front of me, pulling her soft blue blanket as if it were a delicate animal on a leash.  It was unremarkable.  I was unremarkable, she was too.  But a thought so distinctly flashed through my mind that the idea seared on my heart.  The thought was simple, obvious and forgotten.  It said, “This is it.  This is what you’ve wanted.  You are in the middle of it.” [Read more…]

At the Feet of Christ

We’re glad to feature another guest post by Ashley Mae Hoiland. See her first post here.

When I was in high school, I was compelled by internal forces to spend a good amount of time celebrating birthdays of people I hardly knew. I spent many nights baking cookies, painting small cards with notes and putting together assortments of birthday packages from treasures I found in my room. Like my mom, I remember dates and people very well, and I was astute in garnering birthday knowledge from kids across the social spectrum.

The only problem was that I would often get too shy to actually deliver the gifts in person, so I also spent a lot of time devising plans to leave the goods on desks before class, strung up to lockers and given through another friend. I was dogged in my efforts, despite the uncomfortable position it often put me in. A lot of these kids I didn’t know well: many of them were the social hang-ups, the kids who did not climb the rungs of high school sociality with ease. For some reason I still cannot fully explain, I felt responsible for helping them to know that someone was celebrating their birthday.

I laugh when I tell these stories now, but partly, I am entirely intent on returning to this place of intuition—this place where I did not question the absurdity of what the spirit compelled me to do, and because I didn’t question, my life was replete was quiet moments of connection and joy that would have otherwise not have happened. [Read more…]

As a Little Child

Ashley Mae Hoiland received a BFA in studio arts and an MFA in poetry, both from Brigham Young University. She served a mission in Uruguay. She now lives in Palo Alto, California with her husband, Carl, and two children, Remy and Thea. She has written and illustrated several children’s books and once headed a project that printed poetry on billboards. More of her writing can be found at www.birdsofashmae.com. We are glad to welcome Ashmae as a guest of BCC.

There I am, a little sprite of a girl, lion-haired and scrape-kneed, taking bouncy skipping steps along the dirt path. Quiet morning sun peers through the leaves like the light through stained glass at the front of a cathedral. As a thirty-year-old, I stand at the top of my childhood hill and look down. I can see my 8-year-old self stopping to bend near the ground and hold some leaves between her fingers. I hear the scuffle and scrape of dust and rocks beneath worn tennis shoes. My tiny self is alone and canopied by the canyon oaks and crooked spruces.

I almost remember perfectly the visceral magic of endless possibility I felt in this space. My parents were both new to the church and the missionaries still drove up the long canyon road and the steep driveway to our house every Monday evening—we knew so little. Our naïveté left us unencumbered and free, because the few facts we really grasped on to were handed to us by the joy we felt as we were sealed in the temple just months before, or when the ward wrapped their arms around my parents and celebrated their goodness. [Read more…]