Of Light, When We Cannot See It

I wrote this for my congregation’s January newsletter.

They say that it’s darkest just before the dawn. Perhaps that’s physically true, but they usually don’t mean a sky without sunlight. They’re saying that rescue, recovery, revelation, or some other relief we seek comes only after – shortly after – we are stretched to our personal limits.

That was Joseph Smith’s experience in the grove, for example. Just as he felt himself on the verge of destruction, the pillar of light appeared (JS-H 1:16). We trust in our own happy outcomes too; in the end our darkness will be just that thing that happened for a while before the lights came back on.

That’s true, but it can be difficult to believe, when all we see and feel is darkness.

“Poor As I Am” (A Modern Tale of Christmas Eves)

David Rodeback, Poor As I Am

“Poor As I Am”
(A Modern Tale of Christmas Eves)

by David Rodeback

Copyright 2016
All rights reserved.

 

Two grad students, wrestling with real life on limited budgets, spend Christmas Eves together. Each year (and sometimes in between), something momentous happens. Along the way, they learn about themselves and each other and Christmas.

One reader writes:

“A lot of writers invent a fake world, maybe because the real world isn’t worthy of them. This writer focuses on the real world and allows the reader to lose herself in the beauty and breathtaking quality of real life. Because real life is beautiful, even if it has rough edges.”

“A gentle, unassuming, powerful story.”

“In an endearing, utterly captivating way, I was brought into the lives of two people who felt too real to be fictional.”

“Every Good Thing”

Author’s Note

Peter said that the Savior “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). What if he had said something slightly different: “he went about doing no evil”?

That’s true too, and it’s important for us to avoid sin, with God’s help — and when we fail at that, to remove it from our lives, also with God’s help. But it’s not enough simply to do no evil. We’re to do all the good that we can.

Energies: At Rest (A Photo Tribute to Marching Bands, Part IV)

The fourth and final part of this photographic celebration of high school marching bands isn’t potential or kinetic or unusual.

It’s the end of the show.

The awards ceremonies.

Whole bands sitting in the stands, cheering the winners’ exhibition performance in a display of sportsmanship we probably ought not take for granted.

It’s the entire extended band family bidding farewell to two Millers after thirty amazing years.

Starting tomorrow, for several consecutive weeks, it will all happen again. Some of the same youth and lots of new ones will perform new shows for the first time in competition — and, too soon, for the last time.

Another year of work and discipline. Another season of beauty and grace.

It’s one of the world’s goods.

At Rest

American Fork High School Marching Band

Energies: Unusual (A Photo Tribute to Marching Bands, Part III)

A cello

Part III of my happy photo essay features more images from last fall’s state and regional high school marching band competitions in St. George, Utah. In Part I the energy was potential; things were about to happen. In Part II it was kinetic. Things were moving, happening.

Here the energy is . . . unusual. You’ll see things you might see every day somewhere else — but not in a marching band field show. Are you ready?

Unusual

USS Arizona Memorial
USS Arizona Memorial

 

Energies: Kinetic (A Photo Tribute to Marching Bands, Part II)

Here is Part II of my amateur photo essay, with more images from last fall’s state and regional high school marching band competitions in St. George, Utah.

In Part I the energy was potential; things were about to happen. Here, it’s kinetic. They’re happening.

As before, I know only some of the bands and a few of the individuals’ names, so I name none of them. You’re welcome to help me identify them, of course. The American Fork High School Band gets a disproportionate share of my attention here, but I am unapologetic.

Speaking of American Fork, how about the altitude on that jump? (You’ll know it when you see it.)

There’s a public service announcement at the end of this part. Thanks for reading it.

Part III is coming soon.

Kinetic

high school marching band

Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Two novels I’ve read in the past year stand head and shoulders above the rest.

The first is Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, published in 1967. The only surprise here, if you know my literary tastes, is that it took me nearly half a century to pick up and read this classic exploration of religious life. There are certain gaps in my literary experience, I readily admit — but this is no longer one of them.

(Another conspicuous gap is J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951). I know it is had for both good and evil, and was banned within my lifetime in a certain Washington school district for being part of a communist plot. All the same, a young writer I met at lunch a few weeks ago talked me into reading it sooner rather than later. I’m too old, among other things, to be drawn to it for its rebellion and teenage angst, but it has other charms. After reading just the first two pages, I’m inclined to appreciate — and to study — the first-person narrative voice. But I digress.)

The second highlight of this year’s novel-reading is Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, first released not five months ago. Cleave’s first three novels, which I haven’t read, were well received and have contemporary settings. This fourth offering is historical fiction, set in England and Malta during the early years of World War II — mostly before the United States joined the conflagration in December 1941.

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, Chris Cleave

This book is delightful but substantial reading. Though often light-hearted, at times it is grimly realistic and personal about the physical, emotional, and moral horrors of war. It has some thoughts on race and class, but (thankfully) isn’t heavy-handed about them. This virtue displeased the subset of reviewers who declare even a brilliant novel disappointing, if it does not bludgeon the reader with proper and comprehensive modern views of any social issues it happens to touch.

Energies: Potential (A Photo Tribute to Marching Bands, Part I)

Introduction — and My Marching Band Withdrawal

After four years with a mellophone player in the American Fork High School Marching Band, our household is marching band-free. For me there are some withdrawal pangs.

In those four years I went to show after show; visited band camp a few times; made a feature-length documentary about the band and a shorter video tribute to a retiring director, John Miller; dabbled at social media; wrote press releases, blog posts, and newspaper features; edited others’ newspaper columns about the marching band experience; and attended one competition after another.

I worked with parents and other boosters, directors, and staff from print and broadcast media outlets. I even sent the trumpet I played through my first year of college to Grand Nationals and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to be played, of course, by someone much younger.

Along the way I met more fine people than I can count — and not just band students. Virtually everyone I met seemed to know what I tried to remember throughout: We weren’t the story. The story was — is — the kids, their music, their show.

I am not a photographer, as you will quickly see, but I snapped some photos along the way. Here are a few from state and regional competitions in St. George, Utah, last fall. I offer them to help us get in the mood for marching band, if we’re not already, and perhaps also to relieve my withdrawal symptoms.