"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
May 13, 2013
Signs of Change
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Back in the dark days of January, when I was still in the rehabilitation hospital in Maryland, Fluffy would often go for walks to reduce his stress and bring a little sunshine into his day. He would always take his cell phone with him, just so that he could be reached by the hospital, by the insurance company, or by his manager. When he came across something interesting in his walk, he would often take a picture with his phone, and then share it with me when he came to visit that day.

We live next to an area that is so crisscrossed with streambeds that it will never be developed (thank goodness!), so it is only a 10-minute walk from our house until you feel like you are in the forest. In the summer, when the leaves are on the trees, you would never even know that you were close to civilization.

One day Fluffy came across an amazing thing, and he just couldn’t believe his eyes. I would probably not have believed it either, if he had not taken a picture:

Notice the sign that is attached to the middle of the tree. It says “District of …,” at the top and then, lower down and in bigger letters, “GOVERNMENT ROADWAY.” Just to show the fear that this sign engendered to those who passed by, the sign is adorned with a number of bullet holes.

There is nothing usual about the sign itself. What is amazing is the way that the tree has grown around the sign, trying to adapt itself to live with the parasite that is attached to its trunk. I’m not sure how long the sign has been here. Even now the tree has grown over the top and bottom of the sign, to the point where it is almost touching itself.

How much longer will it be until the sign is completely obscured? Then it will be an even more unusual sight, looking like a large, rectangular blister in the center of the tree.

I have thought about this picture several times, and it always reminds me of the ways that things attach themselves to us. Sometimes they attach themselves without our even being aware of them, and sometimes we invite them into our lives. One day we may wake up and find that something that was once an invited guest is now a bother and a burden.

Think of the various ways that we amuse ourselves: television, the internet, TV, eating, video games. All of these things are good in moderation, but can be damaging if used to excess. I like the phrase that we should “practice moderation in all things, even moderation.”

We had a friend who was never very excited about being active in our church. One day she told us that when she was younger her mother, who was a long-time Relief Society President, had been so busy serving others that she didn’t have time to serve her own family. Our friend had vowed never to get that involved. We had to agree with her on some level, and realized that even good things can be bad when used to excess.

Do we have any signs attached to us that have outlived their usefulness? If so, perhaps it’s time to get rid of them and start the healing process.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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