Sunday, June 14, 2015

High Tide / Low tide

Auckland Low Tide from AirwaysandTravels blog

Tide shifts happen twice a day here (semi-diurnal) and around Auckland can create a difference up to 3.5 meters (over 11 feet) in water level.  Land that I walk on at some points during the day is  completely under water at another time. Places where boats sail with ease at high tide are left high and dry when the tide ebbs back out.

Just when those high tides and low tides will come shifts a little bit each day, with the phases of the moon.  According to  MoonConnection.com

"As the Earth spins on its own axis, ocean water is kept at equal levels around the planet by the Earth's gravity pulling inward and centrifugal force pushing outward. 

However, the Moon's gravitational forces are strong enough to disrupt this balance by accelerating the water towards the Moon. This causes the water to 'bulge.' As the Moon orbits our planet and as the Earth rotates, the bulge also moves. The areas of the Earth where the bulging occurs experience high tide, and the other areas are subject to a low tide. "

Fisherman and folks who like hiking along the shoreline are wise to check the tide tables to know when their favorite spots will be safe for standing and when they will be under water.

(Auckland Tide Table)

Life also has its ups and downs, but not with any predictable sort of pattern.   Some days we have spirit souring, mountain top experiences.  Other days are a struggle.  I can't google "rotten day schedule" in order to better prepare for those storms of tough times that hit us all from time to time.  One of the opportunities of life is to develop sufficient resilience to adjust through the varied seasons of blessing and challenge.


Lists like that are all fine and good, but when facing serious life challenges, physical or emotional pain, relationship struggle, financial reverses or any other life-slap of adversity, it can be hugely difficult to keep a bright outlook.

"Avoiding or escaping discomfort becomes almost a guiding purpose of life, as if getting around such pitfalls were the essence of a happy life. The gospel teaches, however, that the presence of painful experience is an important element in man’s capacity ultimately to experience joy—and not just because it feels so good when the pain stops! "

Over the past three months I have dealt with the physical pain of an injured shoulder. I took a bad fall the last week we were in Samoa and have been hurting ever since.  I had X-ray and ultra-sound which ruled out any possible breaks or tears.  But after all this time I'm still having fairly significant pain, often waking me up at night which leads to a vicious cycle of not getting enough rest, making it even harder to fully heal.   I've seen a physiotherapist and a chiropractor.  I've done exercises and used heat packs.  I've had priesthood blessings and I've tried a number of different things to try to get relief.  Still, the pain in my arm continues. I've got an appointment coming up with a shoulder specialist with hope he may have some answers as to why I don't seem to be getting better.

In the mean time, however, I've had ample opportunity to ponder pain that we have in our life and how we respond to it.

In an April 2011 Conference talk entitled "The Atonement Covers All Pain", Kent F. Richards relayed this quote attributed to Orson F. Whitney:
"“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. … It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.”

He further went on to quote Elder Robert D. Hales who after recovering from a major heart attack said: "Pain brings you to a humility that allows you to ponder. It is an experience I am grateful to have endured. …"

I cannot honestly say at this point that I have learned to be GRATEFUL for pain, especially not during the time I am enduring it.   However, I CAN look back at past painful experiences and feel sincere gratitude for the personal growth I achieved through those times in my life, once I've come out the other side. I am hopeful that this recent episode will eventually follow that same pattern.  It's just getting through the here and now with the right attitude that can be a bit of a battle.

Some people try to minimize their own or other's pain by saying "oh, it could be so much worse" or pointing out a larger tragedy someone else has to carry.  I  know that by comparison, this current episode with my arm is small potatoes to what many others have had to face.  Still, as Ellen Bass wisely wrote in the book "Courage to Heal",   "Comparison's of people's pain simply isn't useful".   We each must deal with whatever cards we get dealt whatever best way we can.

At times the combination of pain and lack and rest can make me cranky.  Crankiness is seldom helpful.  In fact, that whole spectrum of crankiness, frustration, over-whelm, self pity or discouragement are a trap from the adversary to distract me from all that is good.

So I'm working really hard at using this pain as a reminder of the teachings of the Savior, who experienced every pain imaginable and continued in love.   

I learned a significant lesson about pain and adversity from one of the other missionary couples who were serving here when we first arrived.  Elder and Sister Brown were exemplary missionaries who gave great service.  However, they had to leave their mission early when Elder Brown was diagnosed with cancer.  He continues to undergo painful and difficult treatments in an effort to save his life.

Most would have been devastated by news such as this.   I'm sure they had some very low moments in coming to terms with the circumstances that came their way.  However, rather than moan or ask "why us?", the Brown's standard reply was this:  "Not all blessing come wrapped up in pretty packages."

So when I ache, when I feel discouraged by not having any answers or solutions, when I am tired from not getting uninterrupted sleep - rather than whine I am trying to really ponder.  I'm turning to my scriptures and to talks by various apostles from over the years about adversity, endurance, and the atonement.  I am also thinking of the Nephites who were in bondage as described in the Book of Mormon.  When they cried out to the Lord to be released from bondage, God chose not to have them set free.  But instead, he made their burdens light:

“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs” (Mosiah 24:14).

Whether it be this recent issue of physical pain in my shoulder and arm or the larger issue of times when we all must endure the pains inevitable from living in this fallen mortal world, I want to remember the words of the Savior who said:

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

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