This morning I made good on my promise to myself to organize the end-of-the-school-year treasures.
[My friend once told me about the banker box system. Every child gets a bankers box. Every school year gets a hanging file. You file the school treasures away every year in the hanging file and then she said when they graduate and leave home, you just send the bankers box with them. Easy, she said. I'm not sure how easy I want to make leaving home, but there you go.]
I finally got everyone their own bankers box and filed away the school papers that I had collected over the years. Absolute treasure. There were preschool drawings from Caleb, which were heavy with drawings of a family of six under a rainbow. Almost every one of them said, "Happy Birthday" which I guess, was the only thing he knew how to spell besides his own name. Olivia's were littered with animals and "I love you's" and hearts where the dot over the i's should have been. Savannah's were nothing but careful and conscientious, and I laughed when I read a kindergarten journal entry about how she wouldn't help Olivia clean up the room so Olivia tied her to the bed. Where was I? I have no idea, but I was grateful to be able to see it firsthand all these years later complete with crayon drawings of the injustice. Ethan's box is gratefully light. He only has two folders in it.
This morning I counted that as a tender mercy.
On Friday we skipped school and work and drove to Gila Valley to go to the temple open house. I kept my children close to my side and whispered the secrets of eternity to them as we walked from room to room. Can you see the hand of the Lord? Can you see his message in the carpets, in the mirrors, in the crystal chandeliers, in the light? Can you see the power of the ordinances in the shoulders of the oxen? Can you see the strength of his promises in the stones and in the foundation? By the time we reached the brilliantly lit celestial room, I could tell they were all feeling the spirit of the Lord. Afterwards we drove up Mount Graham and put our feet in the river. And then we ate Mexican food complete with fried ice cream for dessert, and drove home.
On Sunday I taught the Gospel Doctrine lesson about the book of Joshua. And before I got to the part where I bawled my eyes out when they buried Joseph's bones at Shechem, I talked about the miracle at the River Jordan and the stones the Israelites carried out of the river bed to stand as a remembrance.
And so this morning, the line from chapter four rang in my head over and over again, as I sifted through papers pasted with the life cycles of caterpillars and tissue paper butterflies, poems about fall, and finger-painted hand prints of my small children. What meaneth these stones?
"Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord that it is mighty."
And I want to tell Joshua that I understand. I can see what he was getting at. I have my own stones of remembrance, because I have had my own Jordans, rivers high with flood waters and no way to cross. He has dried the waters before me, until I was gone over. Over and over again.
At the temple, and in my home, it is the same. What meaneth these stones? They mean his promises are sure. They mean that the safest word in the world is "covenant." They mean these children are mine, even when they (and their bankers boxes) have left my house. They mean that the days of crayons drawings and unsure penmanship and stick figure families under rainbows, are never truly over. They are eternal. They are one eternal round. They are my past and my present and my future.
What meaneth these stones? Behold the arm of the Lord is revealed: In four bankers boxes now stacked high in a row on my closet shelf.