Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Invictus & Nelson Mandela

Tonight my wife got the movie Invictus and we watched it together.  I heard about this movie when it came out in 2009 and thought it sounded good and that I would like it but it just hasn't risen to the top of things I wanted to do until tonight.  Wow!  It was great.

After the movie the comment to my wife was something like this: "We hear all about people who do terrible things both today in the news and from history but we don't hear much about people who do great things like this".  I had always known that Nelson Mandela was a man who had done great things but this movie really made me more starkly aware of a little of the difficulties he went through.  The movie is well worth seeing. 
Morgan Freeman and Nelson Mandela

Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon do a good job acting in the movie--especially Morgan Freeman.  I have always enjoyed his acting (except in the movie Driving Miss Daisy). 

The title of the movie comes from a poem written by William Ernest Henley.  Henley was a large man with a red beard.  One leg was amputated as a result of "Tuberculosis of the bone".  His other foot was also diseased.  He spent a lot of time in the hospital and struggled to complete school much less work.  After recovering from his disease he married and had a daughter who was very sickly. 

Because of his strength and resiliency, Henley was the pattern that Robert Louis Stevenson used to create his character Long John Silver in Treasure Island.  Coincidentally his daughter Margaret Henley was the inspiration for Wendy in Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.  Margaret died at age 5.  With Henley's familiarity with trouble and limitations it is no surprise that Invictus is his most known and such a powerful work. It seems to mirror his life long efforts to not be cowed by difficulty and circumstance.

The movie is a real treasure and the poem could give one much to contemplate as well. 

See below for a YouTube movie trailer. 

I will say that the soundtrack from the movie is enjoyable as well. 

Seeing this movie makes me wonder, right now, where are the men that are doing these great things that are influencing others for good.  Nelson Mandela did it on a national scale, but can't we all do it in a local scale and impact our neighbors and communities for good?  Who knows, some few of us may have the opportunity to impact a country or maybe the world for good. 

The scary part of the deal is that often men of this stripe must go through "the refiners fire" or in other words be tried and tested by reversals and struggle to build the strength that is needed to impact others for good.  Many of us would run the other way if we knew in advance that was the payment for the strength of character needed to be a power for good in the world. 

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Loy Krathong--repentance and forgiveness

Photo: Lanterns floating into the night sky in Thailand
Loy Krathong in Chaing Mai Thailand
Seeing this National Geographic picture today reminded me of when I lived in Thailand many years ago.  I never saw what the above picture shows, however.  Loy Krathong is a national holiday celebrated in some unique ways to our western sensibilities.  Rather than seeing the "floating lanterns" rising into the sky as in the picture above--I saw it celebrated in Bangkok with floating lanterns on the river.  My understanding of it's symbolic meaning was that it was a time each year that Thais would look at their lives and determine what changes needed to be made to be better.  A cross between new years and baptism in our culture.  It wasn't just a determination to do things differently but was a religious seeking of forgiveness with the hope and promise of being better in the future.  I was invited to Loy Krathong celebrations which would include a riverside launching of small floating lanterns with little things on them including money or other items representing the sins or changes that people wanted to make for the new year. 
I heard that sometimes young boys would swim out down river to collect the things on the floating lanterns for themselves.  I don't know if this was true but seemed likely with mischievous children. 

Being there at the launch of the little floats was magical as they had candles on them and you could watch them go down the river.  It seemed appropriate to me to think about our sins floating away as we remained here forever different because we had sent them away-forsaken so that we could become a better person.  I suspect in the Thai culture that there are those that this holiday has a very serious and deep religious meaning for.  While there are others that it was just fun and did not lend itself to any changes in their lives.  Just like our celebrations for Christmas or Easter. 
I find it interesting and something that we as Americans have in common with Thai people that we both desire to be better peoples.  Though we may have different national religions we both desire to improve both individually and nationally.  In America we have lots of opportunities to change from a wrong or harmful path to a more positive one.  Whether it be new years resolutions or the making of sacred covenants in temples or other houses of worship or possibly visiting a therapist to try to break old self-defeating patterns of behavior.  Let us be inspired by other cultures attempts to do the same thing, though they may have different symbolic gestures. 

The floating lanterns in the top picture must be a variation of what I had seen when I was in Thailand.  Instead of sending the lighted floats down the river they send them into the air like a kite.  I noted that the picture I had seen was from Chaing Mai Thailand and so I asked my wife who had lived there for a while if she ever saw that but she had not.  So possibly that is a new variation of the old tradition.  The idea of sending away our sins so that we can be a better person is appealing whether it is done down the river or through the air.  We then are free to be the people we really want to be not weighed down by the past mistakes.  Free to change as well as free to choose!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Entering the Holy of Holies yesterday and today

Lisa and I went to Adult Education class at our church last night and were taught in an institute like class [Technically Institute is for college age people and since Lisa and I are above that age, as is everyone in the class we were in Adult Education class--boring name but enjoyably taught by Sister Marks].  We learned about Moses and Aaron and their role as High Priest's in the temple.  We learned some comparisons between the tabernacle of that time with the temples of our day. 
Washington DC temple

San Diego California temple

Accra Ghana temple
Cochabamba Bolivia temple
Back then they had The Holy of Holies and the Holy place and the outer court.  If I understood correctly the outer court was for everyone who wanted to go to the temple.  The Holy place was just for the Priesthood assigned to work in the temple and The Holy of Holies was for one specific High Priest one time a year to enter and do his duties.  A tremendous limitation when you think about it.  One time a year and only one person who had the authority and duty to complete the temple work.  By our standards today it seems extremely exclusive.  
Today we have thousands of High Priests and nowadays others can go into the temple as well, including Elders and of course women who do not require any Priesthood to enter and participate fully in the ordinances.  All adults who may enter the temple can enter the equivalent of the Holy of Holies or the Celestial Room now.  What a change from ancient times.
Now of course the question is what are we doing with this HUGE privilege that we have?  I wonder if some people don't appreciate the temple because it isn't exclusive like it was in ancient times.  Potentially every one can enter the temple--everyone who prepares themselves for that privilege.  Are you prepared?  Are you attending?  Are you gaining the spiritual power and strength that is there when you do attend?  And possibly most important: Is your attendance changing your life and blessing the lives of others when you leave the temple?
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