Thursday, October 11, 2007

Reflections on my son's 1st birthday

My little boy, my only son, turns 1 today. Three hundred and sixty six days ago we didn't know him, but in one sacred moment he became as much a part of our family as my wife and I.
This experience of instant bonds and connections is unique to families. In any company, team, neighborhood or even church organization there is always a period of adjustment where you get to know others and they get to know you before you find your "niche". Not so with a family. Upon arrival there is instant acceptance and love. What an awesome phenomenon!

Love is an interesting aspect of the human experience. There isn't only so much to go around, it is created with every new relationship we form. I first learned this on my mission when I began to care so deeply about the people I was interacting with on a daily basis.

The experience became even more powerful as I began dating the woman who would eventually become my wife. I was amazed at the heart's capacity for love. When my wife and I got married I felt like a new door in my heart was opened. A room I didn't even know existed was suddenly thrown open for me to explore. I had no idea that so much love could be felt for another person. During the ensuing 13 years I have found that not only is this room always new, it is always growing. Thirteen years from now I will look back on my feelings for her today and say "I didn't know anything about love back then."

With each of my children's arrival this experience has repeated itself. The love I feel for each child is not taken away from anyone else, but a new room in my heart is built for that person and the door is thrown wide open for me to enter.

I am personally grateful for the blessing of love in our lives, especially the love that is found in families. It adds a sweetness and flavor that colors our entire existence.

So, as I celebrate my son's birthday tonight I will also celebrate the love that each of my family members brings into my life. Life is worth living because of the love that is in it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Why Banners and Ensigns?

Throughout my life I have been consistently intrigued by the power of symbols and symbolic communication. Whether it is with carefully crafted words, brilliant artwork, or the standard of a nation, symbols can quickly and succinctly communicate a multitude of messages to us. Of all the symbols that are in the world around us, few elicit the emotional responses that a flag does.

The flag communicates so much with such elegant simplicity. It represents the history of a nation, its values, its hopes for the future, and the highest ideals that move it toward its ultimate destiny in the world. The flag brings back memories of victories won, of accomplishments achieved, and of challenges overcome. It reminds us of the foundations upon which we are built, and then impels us onward to new achievements in the ongoing chapters of our nation's history.

Our flag graces the tops of our most important government buildings and monuments, and greets us each morning in classrooms around the country. When we come home from abroad, the flag waves its welcome to us from the port of entry.

The flag leads our young men in battle, reminding them of home and the loved ones they are defending. In honored glory it also accompanies our dead, reverently covering them in its folds as they make their final journey home.

In moments of celebration, the flag is a bouyant and cheerful symbol of national pride and joy as it is waved from the hands of children and from the homes of each proud citizen. In moments of mourning, nothing speaks so eloquently of national sorrow as a flag at half mast.

So again, why Banners and Ensigns?

Because symbols move me, and this name is symbolic of two very important aspects of my character - my religious faith and my feelings of patriotism.

In this blog I hope to explore some of my thoughts on these subjects. My goal is mostly to clarify and develop my own thinking on them, but I also want to solicit the feedback of my good friends and family members who can enhance my learning with their own thoughts and opinions.

A final note on the name - Banners and Ensigns:

Earlier this year I was given a Hopi name by one of my close friends in a rather moving ceremony. The name he gave me, which is intended to be a unique reflection on my personality, is: Oyi Yta Tuvoyla.

It means "Keeper of Banners".