Thursday, December 3, 2009

Twelve (more) Gifts: #1 VISION

Last night we had the rare and humbling opportunity to hear from Stephanie Nielsen, of the beloved Nie-Nie Dialogues (and the infamous plane crash).

And today I cannot stop thinking about this extraordinary person.


She gave every woman in the room the most remarkable gift, my first of the season: Vision.

She talked about how beautiful and amazing we are because we have skin. Skin.
I've actually never been very comfortable in my own skin. I've even found lots of reasons to complain about it (I'll spare you my litany of defects.) The bottom line is, the word grateful never comes to mind when I think of my skin. I've always felt instead like I got the short end of the stick in the Heredity lottery. Yet suddenly Nie-Nie had me marveling at the miracle that is...my own soft, self-healing, waterproof, pliable, wearable skin.

Now ditto that whole paragraph and replace the word "skin" with Bodies. One of my favorite things she said in this gift of vision: "I am not my body." So true. Here we are defining ourselves by our bodies, when our innermost selves—our spirits—may not look anything like our physical bodies. I am not my body.

She talked about Choices. She said she chose to come to earth...and chose to come back after nearly dying. She said the choice and the offer that was given to her felt almost like a bishop's interview, and that it wasn't an easy choice. She was told there would be plenty for her to do on either side, but she thought of all the joyful things she'd miss -- her daughters' weddings, her sons going on missions, and she chose life. She chose to come back. It gave me a huge, larger-than-life appreciation for the chance to spend a series of days and years here on earth.

She talked about Angels. She talked about guardian angels she believes are assigned to her (and to each of us) -- she calls them her "team." She spoke especially of her departed grandmother helping her out of the plane, and remaining with her to this day. That resonated for me, and reminded me of similar experiences I've had...times when loved ones from the other side of the veil have come to comfort, heal, and support me through difficult times. Heaven is so much closer than we think.

She spoke of the Savior so knowingly and lovingly, with such certainty. I found it the perfect way to usher in the season celebrating his birth...to hear her testify so humbly about His role in her life, reminding us how important it is to involve Him in all of our decisions, in all of our trials, in celebrating our joys, every day of our lives. It felt truly sacred to be in the presence of one who knows Him so well.

When it was over, I looked right into her eyes and tears welled up in mine as I reached up to give her a hug, and told her candidly how beautiful she is. Her eyes are like crystal pools of light and love, carrying a depth of vision few of us will ever know, as do her words. I hope to hang onto that vision she gave us all Christmas long...and over a lifetime.

22 comments:

LisAway said...

What a neat experience and a beautiful perspective. Thanks for sharing this. This brings us to the very basics of the gifts we have and what we should remember to be thankful for.

Kimberly said...

I can't help thinking the first gift must surely be the best. Somehow you found the just right words to help us feel what you felt and see what you saw. Tears are welling up and I feel a sudden ache to know Him better.

Thank you.

MommyJ said...

Oh how lovely! I wish I could have been there.

Luann said...

I'm constantly amazed at the beauty of other people's skin. I especially love a good selection of hard hard earned scars and wrinkles. The deeper they are, the more they move me. But like you, I have a hard time being impressed with my own skin. I'm not sure why that is, but I am sure that you are absolutely right. I need to be better at counting my blessings. They are many.

Luisa Perkins said...

The simplest gifts are the most profound, yes? Lovely. I wish I could have been with you.

Barbaloot said...

That sounds like it was an inspiring gathering. Thanks for sharing...and I'll try and be grateful for my skin today that is not acting like it likes me:)

Kristina P. said...

Where was this gathering? I admire her so much.

Kazzy said...

Such a special night. Thanks for inviting me. She really made me think about a lot of things that I take for granted. She was beautiful.

And I like your skin. It has cute freckles and it is very youthful!

Happy Mom said...

Thanks for posting this. I live VERY far away from anywhere that Nie-Nie will ever come and speak. Missed the Today show appearance, have only read her blog. I so enjoyed reading another's perspective on her.

Tammy Lorna said...

What a beautiful entry! I check in on her blog every month or two, and I would have loved to be at that fireside. Thanks for sharing - I really appreciate it ;)

xo tammy

L.T. Elliot said...

Stephanie is so amazing. Her vision, her love, her perspective. I need to be better with my vision. I need to be more appreciative and thoughtful like that.
This is a gift, Charrette, one of the best ones. Thank you.

DeNae said...

Ditto everything that has been said. I mentioned once on your blog that one of my students' dads has muscular dystrophy, and it was so difficult for him to even attend his son's lessons. As much as I resent the weak will that accompanies my otherwise healthy and perfect body, I wouldn't trade my challenges for anyone else's.

InkMom said...

Ditto -- to all of it. So glad you're back! Strange how you can miss someone you've never met, isn't it?

deb said...

Thank you so so much for letting me see and feel her through your eyes and words.
She is truly an inspiration. I am humbled just knowing what it is like for her to stretch herself awake each morning and I complain about having to make lunches again.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Wow! To have been in the room when she spoke would have been amazing. Thank you for sharing her wise words, though. What a lot of great things to think about this holiday season, this magical time of year.

Eowyn said...

Your gifts are one of my favorite things about Christmas. In fact, I'm trying to delve a little deeper in to my life and come up with some of my own.

Heather of the EO said...

Oh lady, wow.

I'm so glad you got to have this experience. That Stephanie is just so amazing, and you've captured her heart here so beautifully.

(I didn't know you were back to blogging. I've missed you, and I'm so glad to read your words!)

Mrs4444 said...

She's an angel on earth, isn't she? What a gift, meeting NieNie. Wow.

Kathryn said...

Thank you for sharing your poignant feelings about what you learned. I'm glad to be introduced to your blog. It's a great place to visit.

Roban said...

How wonderful that you were able to meet her and to hear her story. It is amazing how we take so much of our lives (and bodies) for granted. How special it is of her to share her story.... I like knowing that heaven is closer than we think.

Allison said...

I found her by way of a friend's blog, and already feel I know her. As far as celebrities go, I never care to meet any of them. However, I would love to spend some time with Stephanie. And Harry Connick, Jr.

Heidi Ashworth said...

I so appreciate hearing about Nie-Nie in the words of someone I trust--thank you! I have so often felt that the organization in heaven MUST be so much like it is in the church--we must have something akin to home teachers and visiting teachers and bishops who tend to our needs from the other side. And family--absolutely yes! My dad, who was the father of four daughters when my twin sister and I were born, felt that his father (who had died two years previous) made sure that there were two of us and that we would both be girls because it would be such a great joke! And it was . .. I'm here where I am b/c of him. (So now I know who to blame, huh?) hee hee