Thursday, June 13, 2013

Let the Lower Lights be Burning

This last week, my whole family and I were able to spend a week at a beach house in (the place I would definitely live if I had the choice) Carpinteria. Days here were mostly spent body surfing, riding bikes, and catching up on my current reading--a thrilling piece about fonts and their history--but I also had the opportunity to do quite a bit of thinking.
My mission is fast approaching. Like, seriously fast. Today marks just two weeks left until I leave for Preston. Honestly it's kind of freaking me out. In two weeks, I'll be surrounded by a bunch of people with British accents, meaning I'll be the novelty. Well, maybe. I'll be eating different food, looking at mountain-less scenery, and having to spell words differently (colour should not have a "u" in it). Long story short, I'm in for a huge change. I mean, if I've learned anything from living, change is good. Change tests us. Change helps us grow. But really, despite my immense growth there, that's not why I'm there.
I took a walk down the beach earlier tonight while my family was watching a movie up by the house. It's a beautiful night--a bit overcast, but very warm. As I walked, I took up my favorite pastime, singing. While my usual go-to's are jazz standards, thoughts about my mission soon rendered "The Way You Look Tonight" invalid (as girls aren't really as much of a focus now). The first song that came to mind after that was "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" as that was my favorite song that we had recorded in Men's Chorus, but looking out at the black water made another song seem a bit more apt for the situation: Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy.
The first time I had really heard the song was toward the end of my first semester up at BYU. One of the other guys from the ward invited me to be part of a quartet singing the song at our Ward Prayer. We came up with a pretty cool arrangement for it, and I thought we sounded pretty dang good.
Though I couldn't really remember all of the lyrics for it, I could at least get through the first two verses on my way toward the campgrounds, and as I thought more about it, I was amazed at how appropriate the metaphor was in the song. Not knowing the backstory, certain images from my experience floated up in my mind. I imagined a number of people out swimming in the dark, churning water. Without the houses, the streetlights, the projector that we used to watch our movie, it would be quite dark up here on shore. Though there's some kind of push from the waves, it gets less and less the further you go out. I can imagine some of these swimmers making it to the shore on their own, but only the few who were almost there already. The rest of them, though they might have that small push toward shore don't really have much of a chance. With all the rip tides out there, it's hard to trust even that push, as it could be something pulling you further out. All in all, many of those people out there swimming could very easily drown.
But if those who reached the shore were to turn on the lamps in their houses and light up the streetlights, it makes it so much easier for those out there in the water to be able to tell where they need to be swimming. Sure, they can distrust it still, but it should be much clearer with both the current and the lights where they need to go.
As the song points out, we have to keep those lights on. Swimming in uncertainty can be pretty difficult, and if we can help out showing them where the shore is, it'll help make life so much better for everyone.
I'm excited to do that for the next two years, but doing it all our lives is, in my eyes, essential if we want to be our happiest.

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