By Debra Woods
May 1, 2016
I have been ruminating for a few months now over the possibility of moving to Sedona, Arizona. I immediately knew I wanted to when I first visited Sedona in January of this year. But I did a lot of additional research after returning to my apartment in Salt Lake City, Utah. The more research I did, the more convinced I became that I DID want to go live in Sedona. Yet, I felt insecure about it - like, was it God's will for me to go? Just because I want something, doesn't make it right. And my dilemma was, what if I asked God, and he told me "no"?
That has been my dilemma my whole life. The more I want something, the less I want to ask for permission. I don't want to be told no.
At 57, is that an indication that I am as childishly willful as I was at age 9? I distinctly remember a time when I felt just this way at about age 9 or 10. It was at 4H summer camp. I wanted something, and I was afraid if I asked and got a no answer, then I'd be in open rebellion if I did it anyway. And I still feel that way, all these years later.
So, my special friend told me to fast and pray about my decision regarding moving to Sedona. Ugh! I knew she was right. I waited a day before I tried it - and I don't usually fast in the middle of the week, and forgot and ate. Well, today was Fast Sunday. No more excuses.
I started my fast on Saturday and almost immediately, I started listening to an interview I'd signed up for with the "Food Revolution Summit." I had missed the live broadcast and listened to the recording of it. I found it inspiring, confirming, and motivating. I listened to the next interview. Again, I found it validating and moving. I wanted to know more about the people that had organized the summit, John and Ocean Robbins. I looked them up on the internet. I found their stories deeply moving - they touched something profoundly personal and spiritual inside me.
I'd been thinking about my purpose - my specific reason for being who, what, when and where I am on planet earth - in the history of the earth. Why me, why now? I thought I knew sort of already. Someone said that to discover your own personal purpose, your own why, your own truth, you could look back to when you were a kid and what was it you loved to do but found no one else really seemed interested in that - so you felt like you were different, maybe even alienated by others because of what you loved.
I have this distinct memory of being 7 years old, in second grade, and being the only one in my class who wanted to be a movie star when I grew up. I discovered this fact when we had to read out loud in front of the class, one at a time, our essay - What I Want to Be When I Grow Up. I was shocked when no one else wanted to be an actor or actress. So, I thought, Ok - is this my purpose? I'd gotten my degree in theater and had done a lot of productions, wearing nearly every hat you can in the world of theater at some point or other, and though I love it, I have never felt it was what I should give up everything else in my life to pursue. I got as far as I cared to go just shy of a full-time professional acting career, and really sort of had no desire to back track and dabble in it or do community theater - been there, done that, bored with it now.
Another thing I loved as a kid was genealogy. I discovered this box of old family photos and I organized them on my bedroom wall like a family tree. I loved the various artifacts I found and displayed them in my room - it was almost like a museum. Not many kids did that! Imagine my delight when I joined the LDS church at age 16 and soon discovered genealogy was a big deal and doctrinally important?! I signed up for a genealogy course my first semester at BYU! I inherited both the memorabilia and research of my grandfather, Arthur Page Woods, Sr. who was a devoted genealogy hobbyist. And I think I also inherited his love for family history. I know that is part of my why.
But as I was reading about the Food Revolution Summit folks background, I realized a whole other part of myself - that has always been there, that is so much a part of me that I have failed to appreciate it for what it is - for actually how unique it is. I love this planet. I didn't know that was unique. Not at first. But over my lifetime, I have noticed that an awful lot of people seem to really take her for granted. And sometimes, it makes me so mad - I just can't fathom how anyone could be so stupid and blind. My parents taught me it was wrong to litter. And they loved nature. So I've just assumed I got my ecological values from them. And I am sure that is part of it. But I think it goes way beyond that. Reading about John and Ocean Robbins last night, I felt a sense of coming home - like - yes Yes YES - this is how I feel! It is a deeply spiritual connection with Mother Earth.
And then I understood what it was about Sedona, Arizona that called to me. Man has not overpowered her in that place - she is honored there. Yes, people flock there, but they have not spoiled her - the ones who are drawn off the beaten path to Sedona, have an innate appreciation for her and fall in love with her spectacular beauty she displays in such rich abundance there and want to either live there or return often.
Nothing makes me feel closer to God than nature - unsullied by man. We are drawn there, but not to exploit her natural resources - just to witness and experience her magnificence. The night sky has always thrilled me. I am pulled out of my myopic self-centered universe when I see the Milky Way. And when I consider the vastness of God's visible creation (even a tiny part of it) I am so humbled to think he actually knows ME. Sedona has been designated as one of the top seven places (either in America or the world) for viewing the night sky!
I then began to see something that has been a major shift for me since I started this Whole Food Plant Based - Word of Wisdom inspired diet. God has given us all we need - if we would just stop thinking we could improve on that, we would once again run and not be weary and walk and not faint.
And this is where I come to the hidden treasures of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Until I was living the Word of Wisdom closely, I simply DID NOT WANT TO SEE OR HEAR the truth about how the standard American diet - S.A.D. - was killing me. I didn't want to take responsibility for my own physical well-being. I didn't want to exert any effort to overcome my own powerful addictions. I didn't want to take control of my own chronic illness, and stop expecting doctors to come up with a pill that would allow me to keep violating my self without suffering the consequences.
The thing is, though I've avoided it quite well for 57 years, when I finally bit the bullet and cleared my kitchen of all the toxins I had filled my shopping cart with each week, and restocked it with real food, it wasn't even that hard. I didn't have headaches even. I did feel a little tired as I detoxed from sugar and dairy and processed food, for about two months, but now, I don't have that problem anymore.
Now I crave truth. Now I can't get enough of the research that just goes to show the Word of Wisdom was absolutely inspired - now I can see how amazingly God has provided for our every need no matter where on earth we live. There is not one strict list of foods to eat, and no one cure for disease - all over the planet, he has provided a plethora of resources and conditions to optimize our health - to allow us to thrive!
What kept the knowledge, wisdom and understanding hidden was me tightly closing my eyes and sticking my fingers in my ears so I wouldn't see and hear the truth and make me put down the pastry and the fried chicken and cheese that I loved to eat and didn't want to give up! Once I had given them up, I was no longer afraid to hear the truth. I no longer felt the need to avoid it.
"Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints"
And, if I, of all weak people alive, have found a way to open my eyes and unstop my ears and embrace the truth and the wisdom and the blessings of a wholesome lifestyle, I believe it is possible for anyone. I had to get so discouraged I wanted to die before I was ready, and thankfully, with some inspired messages from several sources in my life all at once at that point, I didn't end up on the other side of the veil before I took the plunge!
Finally I felt ready to pray about my decision to move to Sedona. I expressed my decision and asked if it was the right thing for me to do. The answer I got was to read my Patriarchal Blessing. This month there is a Come Follow Me lesson in Young Women about Patriarchal Blessings, which reminded me of a cool thing I have done with my blessing. I formatted it like our LDS scriptures, in two columns with verses and even footnotes. Each sentence is a verse. So I got out that version of my blessing. I also did another cool thing with my blessing, and I recorded myself reading it out loud. So I read along as I listened to the recording. It was very moving. I saw things I hadn't seen before. I saw myself more the way my Father in Heaven sees me. And I felt his love so clearly. I knew he wants me to be happy and healthy - and to do all I can to achieve that. I know from my blessing that he wants me to enjoy the beauties of the earth, and promises me that the earth will yield all I need to take care of myself (so stop worrying). I just felt a resounding "Go and be happy!"
So I wrote most of this before I ended my fast and ate dinner. Before I forgot the insights I had gained today.
There are around 50 hiking trails in Sedona. Some of the most difficult hikes lead to the most amazing treasures. As I live the Word of Wisdom, I will increase in strength and stamina, shed the weight that harms my joints and everything else, so I can make those hikes and find those treasures that have been hidden from me for most of my life. The blessings are very REAL!