Lofty, beautiful, and serene, a celestial orb glistens in a luminescent sky. Far below on the frontier of a dark wilderness in a tiny fortress live some strangers from the splendid place above. Their home is an outpost, reflecting some of the glory of the celestial homeland but surrounded by darkness and constantly under attack.
Now as day dawns, a woman in the outpost arises from sleep and on her knees opens the communication lines between her home and the orb above. A conduit sheds light and strength upon her, and serenity fills her heart, peace floods her soul, and light overflows from within her. The wilderness pulls away from her bastion, overwhelmed by the light. She turns to her sacred books, seeking guidance from the holy home above.
A baby cries; she closes the books and turns away. Children’s voices intrude on her thoughts. Diapers, breakfast, lost socks to find, lunches to prepare. “I’m late, honey; hurry and gather the children for family prayer.” “Why is that boy always late? He’s keeping the whole family waiting.” “Brent had his eyes open during the prayer.” “How do you know? You peeked.” The conduit of light from above begins to fade. The wilderness moves closer to the little outpost; black tendrils slither around the doors, seeking a tiny opening, testing, probing.
Stacks of dishes, mountains of laundry, baskets of mending, jars and cans and boxes and pots of food. Machines humming, stove cooking, children playing, baby crying. Television on—loud laughter, funny situations, chastity ridiculed, adultery commonplace, screams, shots, violence, more laughter, pretty clothes, expensive houses, very witty little children, unhappy families, drinking, laughing, knives, guns, blood. Black tendrils wrap around and around the TV antenna.
The children become bored; the woman draws them around her and teaches them, reads stories, gives hugs and kisses. Later, when the children are napping, she has time for some reading. “Parents have no right to impose their ideas on children.” “Never say ‘no.’” “Never punish a child.” “If the child is not successful, it is the parents who have failed.”
She pushes away the darkness by turning to other books: “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6). “They shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:28). “Teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (Mosiah 4:15).
“Oh, Johnny, are you writing on the walls again?”
Family members come back to the outpost from their excursions into the wilderness. Some of them still have darkness clinging to them. “But everyone else gets to.” “I’m too dumb to do this math.” “Sorry I can’t do my chores—I’ve got tons of homework.” Parents work to dispel the darkness and to help their family return to the light. A friend calls: “I’m discouraged and you make me feel guilty. I don’t see why you try so hard when it’s not worth it. What do you expect, perfection?”
With evening comes more darkness. “Hurry, hurry, no time to talk.” “So much to do, not enough time.” “More money—we need more things.” The woman goes about searching out shadows and tendrils, pushing them out, locking the doors and windows against them. She makes room for light, strengthens her defenses, and stockpiles ammunition for another day of battle. “Let’s read a story from the Bible.” “Tell me what you did today that made you happy.” “What do you think you can do tomorrow that will help you and Johnny get along better?” “Time for family prayer.” “Could I listen to your prayers?” “I’ll tuck you in bed when you’re ready.” “Of course I have time to listen to you.”
In the dark of the night, the woman and her husband look out and note that the wilderness is a fraction of an inch farther away than yesterday. They kneel again and catch a tiny glimmer of the splendor they have part in creating, and they are dazzled by the glory.
Science fiction? Not exactly, for scattered about the earth are small outposts of the kingdom of God where men and women join with God in creation—not just the creation that ends with the birth of a child, but the ongoing creation of celestial homes that begins at the altar and continues throughout eternity. (Petera Kelly, The Joys of Motherhood, Liahona, March 1992)
So begins a gem of an article I found from the Liahona Magazine back in 1992. Isn’t the imagery just beautiful?
There are a few things that touched me when reading this. First, the mother begins her day with prayer she “opens the communication lines between her home and the orb above.” When she does so she is filled with light and strength, serenity and peace. Those are all qualities and virtues any mother craves to help her through her day. But notice one other interesting result of prayer – the wilderness or darkness retreats overwhelmed by the light!
Have you ever been in a dark, pitch-black room? When I was a teenager we visited Hannibal, MO and toured a cave like those Mark Twain wrote about in Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I will always remember the guide turning off the lights and the instant blackness that permeated. It felt heavy, oppressive, and, well, dark. Then he turned on a flashlight. It was just a little bit of light but, oh! what that light did to the darkness! It made it retreat and appear so much less threatening.
Prayer can do that for us! We open that communication from heaven to guide us, lighting our way, dispelling the darkness around us.
Next the mother reads the scriptures, “her sacred books, seeking guidance from the holy home above.“It has often been said when we want to speak to God we pray, when he want to hear Him speak to us we read the scriptures. The scriptures also give us direction, refilling our lamps for the day ahead.
The rest of the day is spent doing things mothers do – laundry, cooking, tending children, refereeing arguments, etc. In other words her day is filled with service. And while her mind is on these other tasks she still needs to be vigilant as “the wilderness moves closer to the little outpost; black tendrils slither around the doors, seeking a tiny opening, testing, probing.“
We are constantly choosing what we allow into our homes through books, television, and the internet. Satan is on the offensive trying to find any chink in our home’s armor, usually just looking for some small, almost imperceptible way to sneak in. He is so subtle, so cunning that if we aren’t careful He will find a way.
I love how this article expresses the way in which mothers and wives go about “searching out shadows and tendrils, pushing them out, locking the doors and windows against them.“It reminds me of Julie B. Beck’s talk at BYU Women’s Conference in 2010 where she said, “Women are like lionesses at the gate of the home. Whatever happens in that home and family happens because she cares about it and it matters to her. She guards that gate, and things matter to that family if they matter to her.” We are the guardians of our homes! As we work with our husbands to provide a safe haven for our families we will be blessed to “catch a tiny glimmer of the splendor we have a part in creating.”
We are also not alone. There are other families out there, other mothers, doing their very best to fight against the darkness by shining their own lights. Catching those glimmers in the distance gives us hope to try again the next day.
I love this article so much I am dedicating a whole week to discussing it and writing my thoughts about it here on my blog leading up to Mother’s Day. My blog posts will cover these sections of the article:
Monday – A Training Ground for Heaven
Tuesday – A House of Order: Building Houses – Building Families
Wednesday – Preparation – A Lifelong Pursuit: A House of Learning
Thursday – An Attitude of Excellence
Friday – A Sense of Humor
Saturday – Our Daily Chores: Gifts from God
I would love to have you join me in sharing your thoughts about it too! If or when you have the time please read, The Joys of Motherhood, by Petrea Kelly and then be prepared to comment and discuss and share your thoughts and experiences here in the comment section or on the Chocolate on my Cranium facebook page or even Google + throughout the week.
What hit home for you today reading the beginning section of The Joys of Motherhood?