Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Grain of Salt

Disclaimer: I wrote this for my English class and edited it a bit for blogging purposes. Also, the transitions are choppy and/or nonexistent.

The Provo Tabernacle burned down last month- but only on the inside. Since the outer facade was made of brick, both it and the turrets of the building were preserved. On the morning it burned down, friends of mine posted pictures, taken at some ungodly hour, on facebook and blogs. The tabernacle was in flames in the tell-tale pinkish grey of early morning. It looked and seemed surreal at first. There were people at the time who said that the destruction of the Tabernacle was a blow to their testimonies. Others noted the preservation of a painting of Christ and thought that was a sign from Heavenly Father. It’s easy to make metaphors out of life events, and to take the connections one makes in a few seconds seriously.

“I’d have taken it as a sign from the man upstairs,” said Scott, “if it didn’t have swears in it.” He saw a train scarred with graffiti last week and the first legible line he noticed was, “F--- fake hos,” followed by the name of his most recent ex-girlfriend. Would God cuss at us to get a message across? What if it worked? Would he burn down a beloved, albeit old, building?

Or would he send us revelation via fortune cookie? “Change is in your future.” “You will soon happen upon a great deal of money.” Book on Tape Worm went out for Chinese last weekend and we got four fortune cookies each, opening all of them together. Our eyes widened and squinted as we read and pretended to believe each pseudo-sage message. We saved them in our wallets. Maybe we'll refer back to them someday, connecting their prophecies to then-past events.

I smashed my finger in the door in late September, and then Skyler asked me out. For the brief time we dated, my middle right finger was purple and swollen. When we broke up, my fingernail fell off. I pretended it was a sign. I also pretended that the jack-o-lantern I threw away in November was his head. I pretended that when the glass jar and candle I hung outside fell down and shattered, it was a metaphor for letting him go.

I’ve lost the bracelet he gave me. That might actually mean something.

My dad came to visit me back in December and he and I drove down University Avenue, just past Center Street, and parked next to the City Hall. He snapped some pictures of the Tabernacle, flanked with firetrucks. We walked to the top of the parking garage next door to get a better view, talking about philosophy because that’s how my dad is. I realized later that even the Tabernacle could be a metaphor- but for clearing out old things and building new ones. I used that metaphor to build me. I thought, “Sometimes we have to be burned down inside in order to be remodeled into something better. Everything will be okay in the end.” The Tabernacle is being remodeled, from the looks of my last drive-by.

Most people’s astrological signs changed a week or two ago, right? Consulting the newest star charts, I discovered that I was no longer a Gemini, but a Taurus. I felt vague disappointment, even a loss of identity. Then the astrologers told us this change only applied to those born after 1999 or some arbitrary date. We breathed a sigh of relief- as if our futures would be any different if we kept the same star signs.

How much clout can a sign hold? What makes something a sign to which people? Even though I hope God sometimes sends signs to people, I think it’s important to use discernment in naming a heavenly message. If I create a sign that saves or ruins me, grant God the credit for letting me make the connection, or give me the blame for taking it too far.

I like pretending that I live in a book and that some author (like Emma Thompson in Stranger than Fiction, although hopefully less morbid) is making allusions and writing beautiful imagery into my life, but I think I know better than to take her too seriously. I am the only narrator I know of, and my awareness of the metaphors around me may even be irrelevant. I believe that regardless of the author, I am the text. I’ll take my metaphors with a grain of salt.


  1. Totally love this. I feel like some signs are put in our paths for a greater meaning and then some should be brushed off. Is it something you are praying about? Because if so, one might take that sign a little more serious. Read my signs in my blog. Should I take them serious?

    p.s. hope to see you this weekend! :)

  2. Here's what I think on the subject of spiritual signs, after having explored it a little (some doctrine, but primarily the Gospel of Emily Brown):

    The only concrete sign that Heavenly Father has promised us when we are seeking answers is the presence of the Spirit. Recognizing the Spirit is also very definite: "your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right." (D&C 9:8) It's important to note that Satan can counterfeit all the emotions and signs that the gospel brings EXCEPT for peace. He can even counterfeit visions and angels. I think if there is peace, and if the Spirit is present, then the impression is truth.

    As for other "signs," I don't think they carry much gravity. I believe that rather than signs, people see metaphors within their daily experiences- like literary interpretation, but of a living work. To me, these aren't direct revelation from Heavenly Father, UNLESS they are accompanied by peace and the Spirit. D&C 63:7 reads, "He that seeketh signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation." I personally think that this means that if you are looking for a sign, you'll find it. But Satan can imitate signs, and so that sign may not necessarily be right.

    I don't take my life's metaphors as signs, so that's not what I'm praying about, but these past few weeks I've been working on letting the Spirit direct me more. Regarding the interesting coincidences you've noticed in your life recently, you get to decide what they mean. We are counseled to make decisions and then ask Heavenly Father about them. If you pray about your decision and feel peace and the Spirit telling you that it is correct, tally forth! If not, I'd rethink.

    I hope you're having a great day. I'm sure we'll see each other this weekend. :)