Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
January 2021
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[RST] Some things we can’t do alone

On Saturday I took my triplet nieces and nephew for a bit of an adventure on a pedal-powered railway bogie along the old train line at National Park. This was fine as an idea, until it became apparent that I was going to be the main source of horsepower for the 120kg contraption plus three 8-year-olds and my somewhat-less-than-lightweight self.

I started off enthusiastically at a nice steady pace that I felt sure I would be able to maintain. It soon became evident, however, that this was going to be harder than I thought. My face started getting redder, my legs started having an attack of the sooky-la-las, and the bogie started losing momentum, slowing to a crawl and then fading almost to a halt. I thought it was the fault of my feeble fitness (well, it was, kind of) but what I hadn’t realised was that the seemingly level tracks have a definite uphill orientation as you head towards Maydena.

(At the risk of interrupting the story and distracting you from the moral of this modern-day parable — and possibly undermining the moral entirely, even though I haven’t got to it yet — I can somewhat gleefully report that the journey back is a blast!)

As my exertions started to have less and less effect, and my capacity to even make those exertions diminished as the burning in my leg muscles increased, my oxygen-starved brain wondered how on earth I was going to make it along the remaining 4.5km of the 5km outward journey.

At that point there was a gentle nudge from behind, and the bogie picked up speed again. Before long we were fairly flying along the track; the successful completion of our journey in a civilised time-frame and without the untimely demise of Aunty Helen now seemed achievable. And what had saved the day? Well, we were being followed by a motorised bogie with enough horsepower to push ours when the going got tough.


There was a brief moment of disappointment as my stubborn sense of independence had to deal with the fact that I had needed help, but the fact was that I COULDN’T do it on my own. That assistance was necessary; it was NOT my fault that I needed it (well, apart from being overly ambitious about the whole idea in the first place, but please ignore this for the sake of the parable!)

There are many times in life when we pedal furiously but make little progress, when we are not going to make it on our own despite the righteousness of the goal and our willing determination and stubbornness. The wonderful thing is that there can be gentle nudges that enhance our capacity and extend it beyond what we can manage alone. The Saviour can guide us, others can reach out to us and offer help, there are unexpected blessings that allow miracles to be wrought. The most significant of these enhancements is, of course, the atonement, which makes up for our sinful shortcomings; but there are other occasions where we are strengthened beyond our current capacity as well.

There are many times in life, too, when we take on the other role — when WE are the ones giving the nudge from behind as the source of assistance for someone else. We do this when we act as the Saviour would act, to sustain, to support, to assist, to strengthen, to bolster, and to complement the efforts that others are making. We can be mindful of the needs of those around us, and then reach out in love to be the agents that help others through their challenges and along their journeys.

And both roles bring blessings. There would be no journey without our willingness to embark in faith, but we will be blessed with the support of the Lord and the “nudgers” who strengthen us along the way. And when we take our turns as “nudgers”, we are blessed for our service with personal and spiritual growth, and an increase in charity.

May you all be blessed on your journeys, and may you be guided to nudge well.

Note: The Relief Society Thoughts posts are reprints of little mini-sermon/parable/homily-thingies that I’ve been writing for the women in my Relief Society group at Church. I write them when inspiration strikes and email them out as well as posting them to our facebook page. I thought I’d add them to my blog as well. You can find others by clicking on the “Relief Society Thoughts” category label, in the grey box at the end of this post, and the most recent of the thoughts should have a list of all the posts by title at the end. Previous posts are:

New Year’s resolutions and fireworks (Dec 2014)
Faith, Hope and Charity at Christmas
(Dec 2014)
Charity and hebe
(Oct 2014)
Getting our priorities straight: Mary, Martha and us
(Sep 2014)
The stinging nettles in my garden
(Aug 2014)
The black Sunday shoes
(Jul 2014)
An unspectacular sunset
(Jul 2014)
On not doing ALL the things
(Jun 2014)
Gulp! I didn’t see that coming (Mar 2014, which sort of explains the job of “Relief Society President”)

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