|Many thanks to Janice Heilner for taking these pictures! Here I am|
seated with my wonderful mom, who introduced me.
The Provo event included a few new friends (was so fun to Juana Terry, the Woodburies and my Toler in-laws!), but mostly it included friends and family who have known me since childhood. Many had lived through the experiences I talk about in my book--ruining my knee in a freak push-scooter accident at nine, for instance, or the deaths of two of my siblings many of them knew and loved. My experiences were theirs, and it gave added depth to our conversations.
What made the evening quite profound was that while most of the people in the room had known each other for decades, and many of them had suffered from our family tragedies, experiences with receiving (or not) were shared that none in the room had ever heard before. For some, there was a poignant shift in their conceptualisation of themselves as "givers" to "receivers."
We talked about the effect receiving has on relationships in blessing both lives, and whether those with true charity are just as good at giving as receiving (what do you think?). We spoke of sacred experiences wherein one took the opportunity through severe mental health challenges to receive of the love of the Savior in a new and sanctifying way.
One of the sublimest doctrinal contributions made that evening was that God is hungry for our love, and needs to receive it. I had never thought about God ever needing anything, but of course a parent needs to feel love from their children.
In all, it was a wonderful, Spirit-filled evening, and made me wonder if one reason why the evening was so special is that we experienced the true "gospel"--abject need for the Savior's atonement and for the sacred roles we each play in effecting his sacrifice. Despite how difficult it was to open myself up in my book, if more people are able to have similar experiences and conversations, it will all have been worth it.
|Preparing the fruit for that evening's refreshments.|
|Juana Terry, Sandra Whitaker, and Alf Pratte. |
Many thanks to Sandra for opening her home and heart that evening for this event.