Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In Conclusion: Use Sacrifice to Show Gratitude

At the beginning of the year I join other Mormons who resolve to read the Book of Mormon in a year's time. Not all Mormons do this, nor is it required of us, I've just noticed that some of my fellow saints like to start the year with a BOM. As do I.

In the beginning of the book there is a story about a prophet named Lehi who is told by the Lord that the great city of Jerusalem is about to be destroyed (which it was). He takes his family and departs into the unknown wilderness leaving behind him a world of luxury. As I read this morning, I noticed that when Lehi and his family were tucked away in the throes of untamed wildlife he built an altar, and with an offering, he thanked the Lord for safe travels.

Reading of Lehi's gratitude made me scribble "daily" in the margins of my book. I need to build an altar and make an offering on a daily basis. I've noticed that when I get behind in recognizing the astonishing amount of blessings in my life I become ungrateful. Isn't that weird?

So all day long today I've thought about the foundation of my altar, and what I could possibly offer as a means to thank the Lord for my daily bread. I understood that the only acceptable offering is personal sacrifice (those things that give us simple broken hearts and contrite spirits). Like for Lehi it was probably a fatted cow. I have so many fatted cows around here . . . in fact here is one right here . . .

But really. What would be my sacrifice?

My answer came this afternoon as we sat in the den lamenting our snowed-in state. The boys and I were on the floor creating towers of various layouts with brand new wood blocks (thanks Lindsay!) When the architect of each tower was satisfied, the others were allowed to knock the whole structure over in a dramatic fashion. And repeat until it bores.

Here was my altar, built out of wood blocks, stacked up as high as balance would allow. And my offering? An afternoon downstairs with Ollie, Gigs and The Chief. Even letting my brilliant towers be whacked to wrecked blockages. It is a meager something, but it is something. My way of expressing gratitude for the ability to expend time as wanted. And (much) more.

I am so relieved to know that it doesn't take more than sincerity to please the Lord. I lack a lot of controlled genuine moments in my life, but when I play blocks with the boys I mean it. Heaven Oh Mighty I mean it! I stack with sweat and concentration that would permanently furrow. If towers make my altar, and time is my offering, I can certainly resolve to do it daily.

But remember this: in twenty-or so years when my house quiets down a bit I think I might go to architecture school. You should see the way I can structure! Talk about hidden talents.