By Anna Arnett
My husband and I were very pleased when we discovered the ward library had hearing aids calibrated to pick up only the sounds that come through the microphone in the chapel. A curving, plastic wire hangs over the ear and allows the one earpiece to be used either left or right. Wonder of wonders, we could thus hear everything we needed to, with only as much background rustling, whispering, or baby crying as our other ear would pick up. Since Charles had completely lost his hearing in one ear, he had no audio interruptions.
A dear friend quipped, “Anna Arnett thinks she’s fooling us as she sits in church looking righteously engrossed in the speaker, but I know what she’s really doing. She’s listening to her iPod.”
I wished I had one.
Then, my son Wayne, gave me an iPod filled with his favorite music. No, I don’t take it to church. One of the first things I did with it was to leave it on when I put it away. Several days later, when I finally got back to it, it was as dead as the proverbial door nail. Of course it took me a week or so, but I finally figured out how to recharge it. The other morning, I hung the receptors in my ears, clipped it to my robe and enjoyed a wonderful day of glorious music varied from instrumental to vocal, solo to chorus, Classical to Swing, Spanish to Rock, Symphony to Opera. I hear piano, guitar, organ, woodwinds, brass, strings, and anything else I’ve missed. It skips happily from one to another.
The song that drove me to my computer, however, was Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” where he lists all the wonderful experiences he had doing everything ‘my way’. My first reaction was, “Poor, foolish man. If you only knew what you’ve missed. How much richer you would be had you discovered the Lord’s way.”
But then, I thought again. Every one of Heavenly Father’s children born on this earth has had to choose his path, and then ‘do it’ his own, inimitable way. There has been only one who actually did it the Lord’s way, and that was the Lord himself, even Jesus the Christ. The best the rest of us can do is to choose to live as nearly as we can to the Lord’s way, but let’s face it—we’re incapable of emulating Him completely.
I join myriads of others in believing that the Lord’s way is the way to happiness. And since mortal life is our institution of higher learning, we must experience as many classes as we need to become perfect ourselves.
In the University of Mortality, the ultimate leader is the University president whose leadership transcends this world, yet he intimately knows each student. His two counselors work with him as one. They have complete control over the collegiate environment, and issue all degrees.
To insure agency and present sufficient challenges, a pseudo president, or dean, is permitted to staff a division. His teachers are alien spirits who have not had the opportunity to take even the prescribed, basic classes, and though they are intelligent and persuasive, their words cannot be trusted. This division offers the lowest degree, the telestial. Required courses include classes in willfulness, disobedience, anger, aggression, warfare, theft, gossip, and the art of undermining. Any of these courses may be re-taken for credit since the subject matter is forever finding new applications. Students enrolled here are admonished to take courses only within this college for easy high grades and quick graduation.
Another division is presided over by the richest, most charismatic and scholarly man who applied for the job. This dean gives lip service to the University president, but shuns the finer teachings. Basic courses here deal with moral ethics, including honorable business practices, kindness, and brotherly concern, but credits are not accept for any classes in religious practices, devotion or ordinances. Graduates from this division earn the terrestrial degree.
The dean of the largest division, but not necessarily with the highest enrollment, in the University of Mortality, has many colleges, under his jurisdiction. There is the College of Early Graduates, who matriculate before the age of accountability. These automatically are awarded the highest degree.
For the rest of us, enrollment in the College of Hard Knocks is mandatory until certain courses are completed. These lessons are individually designed to toughen us, to teach us problem solving, and hopefully, humility. There’s the College of Appreciation, the Colleges of Obedience, and Repentance, of Service, of Selflessness, with myriad instructors, offering classes to bring us all to candidacy for the highest, or celestial degree.
Make no mistake. All who enter the University of Mortality will eventually graduate with one degree or another. It is impossible to drop out, though we can change colleges and goals. Through our agency, and our diligence, we gain both the grades, and the degree we earn. While each of us is “doing it my way,” it behooves us all to pattern our ways after those of the university presidency, enroll in the best colleges, and try to ace all the classes we can manage. The real test (which is also a reward) is to stay enrolled in the best of colleges and keep studying to the end.