Shattered Silence

Shattered Silence

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Song Dissection—"Second Hand Heart" (Pt. 4)

See my introductory post, “Song Dissection – Second Hand Heart (Pt. 1)” for background on this essay project. If you are a new reader, I invite you to listen to the song and watch the official music video below. The lyrics are listed for you to read as well; after which, I will continue to dissect the song and share my thoughts on the lessons that it taught me, which is one reason I love this song so much. Be sure and check back for subsequent updates in this 10-part series.

* * * * *


Second Hand Heart
Performed by Ben Haenow
(Featuring Kelly Clarkson)

The light of the morning finds you sleeping in my bed
And it’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said
I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet
Yeah, the broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget

Wait for me now
Will you wait for me now?

CHORUS:

I might think too much, drink too much, stay out too late
I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart
All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand
That this imperfect love can start over again
It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?

(FIRST STANZA REPEATS)

(CHORUS REPEATS)

FIRST BRIDGE:

If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart

SECOND BRIDGE:

And I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day

Oh, you know you got my secondhand heart

(SECOND BRIDGE REPEATS)

* * * * *

“Wait for me now…will you wait for me now?”

An Old Testament proverb reads, “Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured” (Proverbs 27:18). The ancient Israelites looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, who would rescue them from bondage and save Israel, His chosen people, in the Lord’s kingdom. From Moses, to King David, to Isaiah, waiting on the Lord was a common theme of daily religious worship, and a reflection of our need for the Lord and our reliance upon God for sustenance and salvation.

Waiting on the Lord's timing can often
try our patience and our faith.
Animal sacrifices and burnt offerings were prepared in the Israelites’ portable Tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai, and in the Temple of Solomon and Herod’s Temple, both at Jerusalem, as a foreshadowing and preparation for the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ—the Lamb without blemish—which was later achieved by the shedding of His own blood as the Only Begotten Son of the Father. These ordinances kept God’s followers clean, pure, and worthy before the Lord, and restored the favor and protection of the Great Jehovah upon the children of the covenant.

Isaiah’s prophetic promise was that “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, … shall mount up with wings as eagles, … [and] shall run, and not be weary … [and] shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). He added that the children of God have not and cannot perceive with their earthly senses “what [the Lord] hath prepared for [those] that waiteth for Him” (Isaiah 64:4)—an abundant promise from He Who holds all things in heaven and on earth in His power.

"When the Angels Come"
by Clark Kelley Price
Copyright © 2012 by the Artist
When we wait on the Lord by trusting in His power and goodness; when we talk to Him often in prayer and crave His blessings and mercy; when we are patient with His timing and will for our lives; when we repent often, seek His forgiveness, and move forward with hope and reassurance in His atonementwe are waiting on the Lord. We are acting as His servants, His disciples, His stewards in spreading the message of His love and divinity to the world. But the Lord reassures us, saying “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” because He has promised to shoulder the yokes of life with us if we will but come unto him (Matthew 11:28-30).

I like to think that the Savior would be the best partner to have if I were carrying a yoke and pulling a heavy load behind me. I don’t imagine Him going too fast for my comfort level, but not so slowly that I would fall behind on the path or not gain from the experience. Though His abilities and skills are far above my own—indeed, perfect in every way—I don’t feel that He would ever use His power or strength to push me too hard. Shouldering a burden with Jesus at your side seems like the best way to go about performing your necessary labors.

Our pace in life is not really as
important as our direction.
And when the road becomes too rough and the load bears down too heavily, I like to think that Jesus waits for us until we are ready to put our feet back on solid ground. However, from my experiences with adversity, I feel as if the journey doesn’t stop as Jesus waits for us, but that He keeps the cart moving forward, shouldering the entire burden Himself, so that when we are ready to try again, we don’t have to pick up in the same spot where we succumbed wearily to our trial; instead, as we press forward under Christ’s strength, we do not fall behind, and we are that much closer to our destination than if we had tried to carry the burden ourselves, and had fallen by the wayside under the significant load.

The Lord Jesus and His Father know our capabilities, needs, wants, desires, talents, weaknesses, and frailties—and that is why They wait for us, and work with us. One step at a time is just fine for Them, as long as we are progressing in Their direction. But as aforementioned by Elder Neal A. Maxwell in Part Two of this essay, we are not expected to compete with or match our Father and Savior—yet. “Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels,” the Lord told his Saints in modern days, “wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected” (D&C 67:13). While waiting upon the Lord for answers or direction might try our patience and commitment at times, it’s good to remember those periods (certainly in my life, at least), when the Lord waited for us to learn by our own experience the good from the evil (Moses 5:10-11).

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Song Dissection—"Second Hand Heart" (Pt. 3)

See my introductory post, “Song Dissection – Second Hand Heart (Pt. 1)” for background on this essay project. If you are a new reader, I invite you to listen to the song and watch the official music video below. The lyrics are listed for you to read as well; after which, I will continue to dissect the song and share my thoughts on the lessons that it taught me, which is one reason I love this song so much. Be sure and check back for subsequent updates in this 10-part series.

* * * * *


Second Hand Heart
Performed by Ben Haenow
(Featuring Kelly Clarkson)

The light of the morning finds you sleeping in my bed
And it’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said
I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet
Yeah, the broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget

Wait for me now
Will you wait for me now?

CHORUS:

I might think too much, drink too much, stay out too late
I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart
All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand
That this imperfect love can start over again
It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?

(FIRST STANZA REPEATS)

(CHORUS REPEATS)

FIRST BRIDGE:

If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart

SECOND BRIDGE:

And I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know you got my secondhand heart

(SECOND BRIDGE REPEATS)

* * * * *

“The broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget.”

The New Testament apostle Paul was well-acquainted with life on a corrupt and broken road. The scriptures tell us that as a devout Jew and an educated Pharisee living in Jerusalem several years after the ministry of Jesus, Paul (formerly Saul) “made havoc of the church” that Christ had established, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 8:3; Acts 9:1). He was present at the trial of the apostle Stephen, even “consenting unto his death” which was later carried out by stoning (Acts 8:1).

These 2,200 year-old ruins of the city of
Palmyra lie just northeast of Damascus.
After the martyrdom of Stephen, Saul continued his persecution of the Disciples of Christ by “entering into every house” in Jerusalem, “haling men and women [and] commit[ing] them to prison” (Acts 8:3). Saul sought and received permission from the Jewish chief priest to travel a great distance northward to the city Damascus simply to continue the persecution of Christians there, promising “that if he found any of this way [Christian], whether they were men or women, he [would] bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2).

Saul was taking the figurative broken road of corruption and sin, and was well on his way toward the condemnation of the Lord. But it was on a literal road—the one that took him to Damascus—that Saul’s life (and his name) changed forever. A bright light stopped Saul is his tracks as he neared the city, and the voice of Jesus Christ spoke unto him saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:3-4). This heavenly manifestation was the beginning of the remarkable and influential apostleship and leadership of Paul, “a chosen vessel unto [the Lord]” who was called by the risen Savior “to bear [His] name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

"The Conversion of St. Paul"
(1767) by Nicolas B. Lepicie. 
It could be suggested that, before his conversion, Paul had found a knack for persecuting and condemning Christians. It was acceptable and honorable to him, even pertinent to his Pharisaic training and upbringing as a devout Jew. Even Ananias, a Christian disciple in Damascus who baptized Paul after his conversion, said that he had heard from many others “how much evil [Saul] hath done to [the] saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13). You could say he was “at home” in his corrupt mission—comfortable on the broken road of life, completely complacent in his talent for destruction and death.

The amazing thing, however, is how Paul eventually found an even more fitting niche in proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the ancient Mediterranean world and beyond. The tables had turned completely, too, as Paul then became the target of persecution, imprisonment, and death threats as an outspoken crusader for the cause of Christ. As one of the most active and successful missionaries in all of Christianity, Paul would tell his miraculous story of conversion to countless people—Jew, Gentile, and fellow Christians—over the course of his travels and ministry. He testified powerfully of the Son of God Who came to earth to redeem mankind from sin. Political and religious leaders of high status and great power heard it declared from the mouth of Paul that the Promised Messiah had come, that the Savior of the world had lived among them, and that He lived still in glory and holiness.

Paul must have been remorseful at times for the lives he had so negatively affected in his earlier life—for those lives he had had a part in taking. In his epistle to the Galatians he confessed, “Beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it” (Galatians 1:13). But his confidence in his forgiveness and redemption through the blood of Christ was undoubting and unwavering. Although he had taken a dramatic detour from the broken road he was once on (and though he would likely never forget those rough experiences), yet he realized that life was still full of paths that were occasionally rocky, steep, narrow, and difficult—especially as a champion for the sake of Christ.

Paul's "thorn in the flesh" kept
him humble and penitent.
“There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me,” Paul explained in his second epistle to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:7). Though he asked the Lord three separate times to take the trial away from him, the Lord knew the eternal benefits of Paul’s challenge. “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” said the Lord to Paul, who responded with gladness in submitting humbly to his infirmities so that he could learn to rely more fully on the Savior and His grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In this way, Paul teaches us all about broken roads. We learn from him that if we don’t like the path we are on, Christ gives us the encouragement and power to change our direction. Sometimes Jesus comes to us on the broken road, as He did to Paul, because He cares deeply for us and wants to help us reach our full potential; other times, as our feet become sore and our bodies grow weak from treading the faulty ground, we turn to our perfect Source of support and succor to help us correct our course, or if necessary, to repair the fractured path, mend our souls, and continue our journey forward.

Euphorbia milii, or Crown
of Thorns, shows us that
beauty can blossom from
adversity.
We also learn from Paul that experiencing a few bumps, inclines, and rough patches along the way is God’s intention for making the journey worthwhile and for our ultimate good. As we learn to dodge the obstacles, or pick ourselves up if we occasionally stumble over them, we become more reliant on the Savior for our strength, courage, and determination. And if we choose to learn from those hurdles rather than fear them or curse them, we can discover a deeper appreciation for life’s challenges and trials and see the purpose they play in God’s Plan of Happiness (2 Nephi 2:11).

As Paul testified, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). The Lord adds His approval of those who sincerely repent and turn from sin by promising that our sins are forgotten and He remembers them no more (D&C 58:42-43).

Friday, January 12, 2018

Song Dissection—"Second Hand Heart" (Pt. 2)

See my previous post, “Song Dissection – Second Hand Heart (Pt. 1)” for background on this essay project. If you are a new reader, I invite you to listen to the song and watch the official music video below. The lyrics are listed for you to read as well; after which, I will continue to dissect the song and share my thoughts on the lessons that it taught me, which is one reason I love this song so much. Be sure and check back for subsequent updates in this 10-part series.

* * * * *


Second Hand Heart
Performed by Ben Haenow
(Featuring Kelly Clarkson)

The light of the morning finds you sleeping in my bed
And it’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said
I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet
Yeah, the broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget

Wait for me now
Will you wait for me now?

CHORUS:

I might think too much, drink too much, stay out too late
I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart
All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand
That this imperfect love can start over again
It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?

(FIRST STANZA REPEATS)

(CHORUS REPEATS)

FIRST BRIDGE:

If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart

SECOND BRIDGE:

And I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know you got my secondhand heart

(SECOND BRIDGE REPEATS)

* * * * *


“I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet.”

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ commanded us all, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Heavenly Father sent Jesus Christ to earth, in part, to be our Exemplar—our standard of perfection to Whom we look as a model of mortal living and service to God. And we know that Jesus accomplished His Father’s purposes, fulfilling God’s Plan of Salvation by establishing His Church, completing the atonement by the shedding of His innocent blood in Gethsemane and on Calvary, and then breaking the bonds of death through the miraculous resurrection.

What a daunting act to follow! It is no wonder that many, including myself, often feel like they fall short of God’s love and mercy, as well as feeling disconnected or undeserving of the grace of the Redeemer as they travail through day-to-day life on their way to heaven. Thankfully, modern prophets and apostles have offered us clarity and comfort in the seemingly-impossible commandment to be perfect as our Savior and Father are. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926 – 2004), a modern-day apostle of Jesus Christ, gave this reassuring thought:

          “Our perfect Father does not expect us to be perfect children yet. He had only one such Child. Meanwhile, therefore, sometimes with smudges on our cheeks, dirt on our hands, and shoes untied, stammeringly but smilingly we present God with a dandelion—as if it were an orchid or a rose! If for now the dandelion is the best we have to offer, He receives it, knowing what we may later place on the altar. It is good to remember how young we are spiritually.”
          ~ Elder Neal A. Maxwell, That Ye May Believe (1992), 100.

What a beautiful and comforting expression from a servant of the Lord! Absolute perfection to match that of our Divine Creator is probably not possible in this life for most of us (perhaps none of us). Sometimes we may turn our eyes heavenward and lament that we are not quite living at our full, divine potential as children of God. But we are assured that if we “come unto Christ, and be[come] perfected in Him, and deny [our]selves of all ungodliness … and love God with all [our] might, mind and strength, then is His grace sufficient for [us], that by His grace [we] may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32).

Along with this scripture, it is important also to note that our “best,” is a constantly fluctuating condition. To do our best does not always have the same minimum effort or maximum attainment. Your personal best will change daily based on life stresses, emotional and physical wellness, circumstances, and so much more. Therefore, human comparison becomes the poison to our ability to feel like we are doing our best, because there will always be someone who seems to be doing better than we are (at least from our perspective) Though, I once heard a phrase that I’ve always loved, which goes, “Never compare your Behind-the-Scenes to someone else’s Highlight Reel.”

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Song Dissection—"Second Hand Heart" (Pt. 1)

Music has long had a strong
influence on me.
In Latter-day Saint (Mormon) culture, it is common to speak of our faith as the “one true” Church of Jesus Christ on the earth; I, however, believe Mormons do not (and should not!) claim monopoly on all truth under God, nor does one need to be Mormon to receive guidance and inspiration through the Light of Christ, which is a gift that is given to all who are born on earth (Moroni 7:15-19). While not true for all Mormons, I have found this to be a common cultural misconception for many, especially when comparing and contrasting our religious practices and beliefs with other religions. By knowing that God is the Author of all truth and the conveyor of all goodness—as directed to His children through the Holy Ghost—I can (and do) find inspiration from on high in numerous sources, some of them very unexpected.

As I’ve discussed before in blog posts (see “To Learn the Healer’s Art”—October 2016) one particular way that is often easiest for me to hear God’s voice and receive personal revelation is by listening to music and lyric. And I don’t necessarily mean only the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, sacred hymns of worship, or Christian rock bands. I can find truth coming from the songs and artists I love the most, even my favorite pop or rock songs that are stored in my iPod or that play on local radio stations.

I’ve even noticed how songs I’ve listened to hundreds of times before can take on whole new meanings based on the events, emotions, and experiences through which I am presently passing. In fact, this is one reason why Latter-day Saints are encouraged to read the scriptures over and over again, even if they’ve read them a dozen times before—because God can and will speak to us through the scriptures in new and meaningful ways as our life circumstances ebb, flow, and change over time.

I’ve had ideas in the past for blog posts which I called “Song Dissections,” a term coined by a college professor I once had, used for a particular assignment for his class. A song dissection is essentially a breakdown of the lyrics of a song that I love and have, as the ancient American prophet Nephi admonished, “likened” to myself, so that I can discuss the truths that speak to me from each line (1 Nephi 19:23-24). At least one of these song dissections was started years ago and has never been finished—mostly because I related so well and so deeply to the song that I’ve had trouble picking it apart word by word and adequately expressing how it makes me feel.

Combined with meaningful
lyric, music often moves me.
This post you are reading has been in the works for over 2 years now; but in 2015, a new song emerged on the music scene, and I probably would’ve never heard it if it were not shared on social media. One day last year, as I began listening to it and taking it all in, the Spirit quietly moved me and testified to me that I could learn eternal truths from those lyrics if I would liken them to myself and my relationship with my Heavenly Father and Savior.

The song is called “Second Hand Heart,” and is performed by British singer Ben Haenow, who won the eleventh series of the UK talent search TV show, The X Factor in 2014. The song is an upbeat duet with American Idol season one winner Kelly Clarkson (my favorite vocal artist). Second Hand Heart is the lead single to Haenow’s debut self-titled album, which was released in fall 2015.

I’ve really enjoyed preparing the dissection for this song, and if you know my writing well enough, you won’t be surprised that the final draft ended up rather longer—much longer than any post I’ve written so far. In order to share my expounded insights into Second Hand Heart, I have decided to split this essay into several smaller posts which will all be published separately. While I hope you will enjoy the entire project, I have found wonderful, simple themes and inspirational messages in almost every section that I will post, each based on one or two individual lines of lyric.

I invite you to listen to the song and watch the official music video below. The lyrics are listed for you to read as well; after which, I will dissect the song and share my thoughts on the lessons that it taught me, which is one reason I love this song so much. Be sure and check back for subsequent updates in this 10-part series. 

* * * * * 



Second Hand Heart – 
Performed by Ben Haenow 
(Featuring Kelly Clarkson)

The light of the morning finds you sleeping in my bed
And it’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said
I know who you want me to be but I’m just not there yet
Yeah, the broken road’s always been home and it’s so hard to forget

Wait for me now
Will you wait for me now?

CHORUS:

I might think too much, drink too much, stay out too late
I know I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
I can’t steal you the stars, but I can give you this secondhand heart
All your friends think I’m hopeless, they don’t understand
That this imperfect love can start over again
It’s been broken apart, but will you still take my secondhand heart?

(FIRST STANZA REPEATS)

(CHORUS REPEATS)

FIRST BRIDGE:

If you let me show you, I could love you the same
And I can’t steal you the stars but I can try every day
Oh, you know they’ll never tear us apart

SECOND BRIDGE:

And I’m just a fool, but I swear I can change
And I can’t steal you the stars, but I can try every day
Oh, you know you got my secondhand heart

(SECOND BRIDGE REPEATS)

* * * * *

“It’s not like the stories; it’s never like what they said.” 

I read the Church Ensign every month, cover to cover. I truly enjoy the articles and content, and honestly, reading the magazine is an easier way for me to include scripture study in my life than reading from the standard works of canonized scripture. There are many stories in the Ensign, or even that we hear in Sunday meetings from other members, about miraculous occurrences, tender moments, sweet experiences, and phenomenal confirmations of testimony that happen to other members.

 The Ensign is a monthly
periodical for Mormons.
I have often felt, as I read those articles, that my own life seemed to be lacking such tremendously-faith-building manifestations of divine teaching. I wondered why the heavens didn’t part above me, as often as they seemed to for other members around the globe, as a witness and acknowledgement of my faith, my diligence, and my acceptance before God.

I have come to discover, though, that I do have those experiences, and more often than I might think. Rather than thinking that the heavens were silent, I have learned to silence myself in order to feel and sense the subtle nudging of the Spirit, prodding me to believe that I am doing well, and that God accepts my efforts. I have also had to learn to look with my spiritual eyes in order to see the hand of God in my life as it guides and directs me every day (Moses 1:11).

Thus, I’ve discovered, as the song reminded me, that worshipping Deity is not always going to be like the stories you hear—whether spoken of positively or negatively; everyone has a different experience with God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, spirituality, and religion. Some are good and some are bad, unfortunately. However, God has spoken of the ways that are best and most appropriate for showing our love and appreciation to Him and His Son—that is, the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel Jesus Christ—and He leads His prophets and apostles to keep us all in tune with those commandments and teachings that will ensure our eternal life and salvation.

I think this is important to remember, especially when our friends, family, neighbors, and fellow humans choose to worship God differently than we do, or not at all; God’s greatest gift to man was the bestowal of agency and the right to exercise it as we so choose (D&C 101:78). Some will choose harder paths than we do (whether strictly religious, or strictly not), while others will seem to have alighted upon the smoothest road through no fault (or effort) of their own; nevertheless, the destination for all of us will be the same—we are all going home to our God, whether sooner, or later.

We need not all take the same path to
fulfillment.
Some may have different experiences along the trail, but if we are honestly seeking goodness and light in our lives, I personally don’t feel that there is a wrong way to do so, as long as you’re on the incline to higher and better purposes. My path to greater enlightenment is companionate with my ascription to the gospel of Jesus Christ, through the vehicle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; your path should make you happy, as does mine, different though they might be. In his famous literary masterpiece The Lord of the Rings, author J.R.R. Tolkien includes a short poem alluding to an integral part of the trilogy’s plot; one line of the poem is a simple, yet wise declaration that I feel is applicable here: “Not all those who wander are lost.”

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Characteristics of Christmas

The meaning of Christmas lies beyond
the lights and tinsel.
I hadn’t planned to post anything until the New Year; but tonight I was going through folders and folders of writing that I’ve collected on my computer hard drive over the years—something I do when I’m bored but want to feel productive (I like tweaking words and punctuation and checking for errors that have escaped my meticulous eye). I found a poem that I wrote for Christmas nearly twenty years ago, called “Characteristics of Christmas.”

My love of writing began early in my life, and I can remember writing my first story in Third Grade. I did enjoy the entertainment of my Sega Genesis video game system and watching Nickelodeon for hours on end; but sitting at our kitchen table with nothing but lined paper, a pencil, and an idea was an even richer form of both leisure and fun for me.

I can remember writing several stories during a school year—some for homework, and some just for fun. I was always so proud of them, and loved to share them with doting teachers. In Fourth Grade my teacher taught us how to write poetry using some prompt words that he encouraged us all to interpret individually. I think I still have it somewhere, in my plastic tote of memorabilia. In Fifth Grade I wrote a poem for class about Halloween, the first rhyming poem I’d ever done. My teacher was so impressed by it that she submitted it to a district-wide Halloween poetry contest, and I won first place.

Christmas is more than trimmed trees
and treat-filled stockings.
I had no idea I’d even been in the contest until a classmate and her mother showed up at our door around 9:00PM one night to congratulate me, as they’d just come from the award ceremony where my name was announced and my poem read aloud at a microphone by an adult performer. I still have the award certificate with a gold ribbon attached to it; I think I won ten or twenty dollars, too, and I’m sure I spent it on a burger and fries, which was a rare delicacy growing up in the 90’s with a mother who cooked all our meals.

After that Halloween poem success, I made a habit of writing about different holidays; I still have poems for Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, and the Christmas one. I know I started some for April Fool’s Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving, but I never finished them. Much like the case is today, I cannot usually write without some kind of inspiration, or at the least a ‘mood’ for writing. I’m not surprised that I couldn’t come up with anything for those holidays; I still have pieces that I’ve been working on for years, and maybe one day I’ll finish and maybe post them here.

Just for fun, I thought I’d share the Christmas poem I wrote in December 1998, when I was twelve years-old. It’s interesting to recognize that the characteristics of Christmas, to me, were the familiar images of trees, lights, snow, and traditional Santa Clause folklore. I describe those things in rhyme in eight verses, using the last two to convey a heartfelt message from a boy who did not yet know the reason for the season. Ten verses total, of course; even in my youth my obsessive compulsive need for counting things in fives was noticeable (and surely that hasn’t changed).

The true characteristics of Christmas are
the gifts from the Savior of the World.
Though I did not quite know exactly who the babe was who lay in the manger in my mother’s ceramic nativity set, I still understood that there was something special about Christmas; something you could feel at that time of year that seemed, for some reason, difficult to sense the rest of the year. I also determined, though young as I was, that Christmas was not a passive event, but a deeper ritual symbolizing a spirit of goodwill and gladness, one toward another. And while the nostalgia of sleepless Christmas Eves, opening presents before sunrise, and my mother’s breakfast on Christmas morning are what live on from my childhood holidays, nowadays I have a better understanding of why we celebrate this glorious time of year in the first place.

The words of LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley (1910 – 2008) always ring truer when I ponder this wondrous season:

          “Christmas means giving. The Father gave His Son, and the Son gave His life. Without giving there is no true Christmas, and without sacrifice there is no true worship. There is more to Christmas than neckties, earrings, toys, and all the tinseled stuff of which we make so much. 
          ~ President Gordon B. Hinckley, "'What Shall I Do Then With Jesus Which is Called Christ?'" Ensign, Dec. 1983.

Indeed, the true characteristics of Christmas are and ought to be the characteristics of the Savior Jesus Christ and the feelings that emanate from His perfect life: Love, Peace, Forgiveness, Service, Joy, Hope, Charity, Faith, and the belief in Miracles.

May your Christmas be blessed by His presence in your life.


Characteristics of Christmas

~

Snow is falling
Down so sound,
Laying a blanket
Of white on the ground.

The tree releases
The sweet scent of pine;
Presents sit under,
One yours, one mine.

The Christmas lights filter
Through the darkness of night;
Santa Clause walks the roof,
Stepping so light.

His reindeer await
So patient and calm
For Santa to pull the reins,
Then they are gone.

The sleigh that he rides in
Sparkles of jewels;
Cushioned in velvet,
Fashioned with tools.

The elves at the Workshop,
At the North Pole,
Get ready for next year—
With a long way to go!

The plate of warm cookies
We left out for him,
Have filled up his belly
For his long night’s trip.

We find the next morning
Our stockings are filled; 
The presents have doubled, 
The wrapping is skilled.

The spirit of Christmas
We hold in our hearts;
When we let it out,
The holiday starts.

So make Christmas a feeling,
Not just something you do;
Merry Christmas from me, 
Merry Christmas to you!

~

- Wade A. Walker -
December 1998 



"Wise men [and women] still seek Him."

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