Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tuesday With Malcolm

On FaceBook, I've been participating in the 30 Days of Thanks. It's kind of fun for me to think of something I'm grateful for each day and then share it with my friends. I should probably do it more often.

Last night, I got a much-needed night out. Dan and I took a drive down the canyon to Salt Lake City, where we met up with Chris and Kim. Just as I was backing the car into the parking stall, I looked over and noticed some friends of ours also parking their car. We all had tickets to go listen to Malcolm Gladwell speak at Abravanel Hall. So the six of us went out for some delicious authentic Italian pizza. If I could remember the name of the place, I would tell you. But it was so good that I will definitely be going back and I'll remember the name of the place then. My pizza had kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, and prosciutto on it. THAT I remember.

After dinner, we all walked over to Abravanel. Fortunately for us, we were able to cut through the convention center and stay warm! We went to pick up our tickets at Will Call, and while we waited in line, Ann Romney and her son got in line next to us. She looked right at me and smiled. How cool is that?

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite non-fiction authors. I think he's on that list for a lot of people. It was so intriguing to listen to him speak. He told the story of larger-than-life (though only 4'11") Alva Vanderbilt, a wealthy New York socialite who ended up being a major figure in the women's suffrage movement. He used words like opulent and festooned and dictatorial and goldenrod. Don't you just love words? Gladwell is the best at weaving a true story into something of grandeur. 

At the end, he talked a little about his new book, and mentioned that the last two chapters are about faith. "The miracle for me," he said, "was that in writing this book, I found my faith again." He went on: "I was raised in a Christian home, and I strayed from it. And in writing this book, I realized I was missing out on something." There was a palpable silence in the hall. He mentioned the story of a woman who was able to forgive a man who raped and murdered her daughter. "I think faith allows people to do extraordinary things they would otherwise not be capable of."

And so today, I am thankful for faith. Yes, it allows me, an ordinary person, to do things I would not otherwise be capable of. It allows me to look and see and feel and stretch and reach beyond myself. It guides many of my decisions; especially the important ones in life. It comforts me when I'm feeling lost and confused. It offers me reassurance that there is something bigger, more knowledgeable, more powerful than I can begin to imagine, guiding me along, ensuring that the right people and blessings cross my path just when I need it. And something I've learned: faith is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

Malcolm Gladwell said that at Alva Vanderbilt's funeral, her casket was carried by 20 female pall bearers. Three songs were sung, the last of which was written by Alva, herself. I don't remember the exact words, but being a feminist, they spoke of how no man, not St. Peter himself, would have a say as to whether or not she got into Heaven. Instead, the angels would herald her arrival by shouting, "Here comes a Daughter of The King."

Faith tells me I am a daughter of The King. And THAT is extraodinary.

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