…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Circles and Lines

Thoughts on Going in Circles or Moving in a Straight Line

By Eric Chaffey


globe_west_2048In many cases a circle is a good shape. The earth that Our Lord created is a circle.There’s a hymn that says “Improvement and Progression have one eternal round. ” (Hymns 1985 #284) And if you think about it, a circle has no beginning nor ending. Usually. 

Frequently, my mother and I have this  need to escape from Sacramento. Keep in mind, I love being near my family and being employed. There are two very nice rivers that are bicycle friendly (one more so than the other). Yet to be quite honest there are aspects of Sacramento that are less than ideal. I think it’s probably the most high stress place I have ever lived.  So to the ocean we went. We didn’t really plan, we pretty much jumped in the car and said, “Let’s go to Half Moon Bay.” The ocean is usually refreshing and gives a needed lift. Partly because of the small towns along it and the pace of life slows down and consequently so does my breathing and anxiety.

Instead of escaping from the big city, we ended up going through several big cities with their traffic and poor air quality. Leaving Sacramento we went south, through Stockton, Oakland, and the southern most parts of San Francisco by the airport. The big city traffic thinned out a little as we got closer, but not very much. We also discovered that not all Pacific locales are created equal. We tried a couple of beaches in Half Moon Bay and a little further north. They were all right next to the main highway and there was a constant stream of traffic noise as well as ocean waves. We continued northward and not only ran out of beach options, but ended up on a freeway which when it ended took us right into the heart of San Francisco. In a bit of desperation once we got into Marin county we found a park that was relatively quiet and looked across the bay to Oakland. We finished the day driving northeast back to home having driven in a circle and totally exhausted. Had we gone in a relatively straight forward line to the west, we would have ended up at a beautiful place in Marin County we love called Point Reyes. Wild and rustic, and definitely off the beaten path.

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As I thought about this today, my mind went to another straight line. In the Book of Mormon, Lehi is shown a vision of a rod of iron leading along a path toward the Tree of Life. Life doesn’t always follow a straight line, but in the case of a coastal get away and making progress in ones life,  Moving forward in a relatively straight line is much better than going in circles and getting stuck in the same spot with the same hangups, fears, and anxieties.

Some months ago, I wrote about my discouragement in the ward I was attending. I felt very alone and very isolated, and being in one of the worlds oldest professions (No, not that one) seemingly made people very uncomfortable. There were a number of ways I could have gone with that. I could have stopped going to church and remained feeling hurt. But things have changed for me and I truly believe that it’s in part because rather than going in circles or staying stuck I decided to move forward. Tonight as I was in the temple, I was having kind of a hard time emotionally. One of the people who I had initially thought rather cold and aloof was very kind and caring. He hugged me and wished me well. I felt his love and kindness, and while I long gotten over feeling hurt I felt a new gratitude and appreciation for him. It truly was a sacred and cherished part of the being in the temple tonight.

In deciding to move forward in faith, I have been blessed. It’s certainly not always been easy or without thorns or rough edges. But there have been blessings and some that I hadn’t expected. The ward and stake that I’m attending has been very good to me. An older couple who work in the Temple sort of adopted me and invited me to join them every Sunday on their pew. The leaders have gotten to know me as I’ve gotten to know them and a great love has flourished.

A big part of going forward with faith and hope, has been more listening to the whisperings of the Spirit. I’m sure there will still be rough days ahead. But as I’m moving forward not only in my spiritual life, but also my work life, my physical health, and my emotional well being. The struggles with same sex attraction are still there, but in choosing to learn from the experience rather than being miserable, I’ve seen a lot of blessings.

So the journey goes on, with earnest prayer and hopeful song. Another part of that journey has to do with music. My work life and my spiritual life are very much intertwined as is my love of church music. I’ve recently written an organ fantasy on a couple of LDS hymn tunes. When I write, I try to let the text be my guide to paint the picture. Sometimes it ends up going in different places than I thought. While I was writing this, it seemed like there were parts of it that have an orchestral texture. I haven’t had a chance to record this on the organ yet, however with my keyboard and computer I was able to record it with some of the orchestral sounds. I hope you enjoy. http://f.cl.ly/items/1k461o0P043N3e0u1a3G/Ernest%20Prayer%20and%20Hopeful%20Song.mp3

4 people like this post.

4 Responses to “Circles and Lines”

  1. Rex Goode said:

    Eric, as always, thanks so much for your insights and contributions to this blog. Your love of the gospel and love of music is so inspiring. I think we can always count on the saints in the long run. They may take awhile to warm up to us, but if we are genuine and authentic, they will come around.

    Your link to your music didn’t work for me. I will investigate.

  2. Rex Goode said:

    Eric, how big is the mp3 file? The way to put it in your post is to edit your post and click in the part of the post where you want it to appear. Then, use the Add Media button above the editor to search for and upload your file. Looking forward to hearing it.

  3. Eric said:

    Thanks Rex, the mp3 file is evidently quite a bit bigger than the allotted 1MB. It’s 5.1MB so I’m afraid it’s a rather huge file. I figured out though what I did wrong in inserting the link. So I think it should work now.

  4. Rex Goode said:

    It did work. It was beautiful My family and I chose “Hold to the Rod” as our family theme song years ago in a Family Home Evening. Thanks for posting it.

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