Author: Luisa Perkins
•5:54 AM
(Tombstone image borrowed from the yet-living John Scalzi)

The wondrously fine Bea and the ever-scrumptious Adriana both tagged me a while ago for the Six-Word Epitaph/Autobiography/Memoir Meme that's been floating around Planet Blog for a some time, and I've been trying and failing to define myself cleverly but succinctly ever since.

Here are some great examples of successful memery crafted by bloggers with bigger brains than I have: Bea of Bub and Pie (scroll down a bit); Veronica Mitchell of Toddled Dredge; and Adriana of What I Made for Dinner.

(If any of you other readers have done this meme, and I missed it somehow, leave me a link in your comment. I'd love to see what you've done with this.)

Anything I concocted sounded a lot like Adriana's or Veronica's, but not as good. Finally, I decided to borrow inimitable words from my favorite poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Here's what I would have carved on my tombstone (right after all the clear and accurate vital information courteously provided for genealogists of the future):

Kingfishers catch fire; dragonflies draw flame.

Someone wandering around the cemetery and happening upon these words might wonder about their context. Here's the whole poem:

AS kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 5
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces; 10
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

What I do is me: for that I came.

I love to write, read, visit with my dear friends, and play with my kids. I enjoy cooking, gardening, knitting, and family history work. I swoon over fabulous restaurants, great art and music, and my husband. I could define myself by any of these daily actions, and much of the time, I probably do. But ultimately, I hope that my life will be defined by my faith and how it comes into play in my every decision.

Here are two links to more words not my own that powerfully express how I feel about my faith: the audio file and transcript of the last public words of Bruce R. McConkie, an LDS church leader who died in 1985.

Elder McConkie died just two weeks after giving this gorgeous and moving address; I do not doubt that the statements of the final few paragraphs proved true. (Warning: if you are not up for something Deeply Christian, don't bother.)
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On 15/4/08 , painted maypole said...

beautiful post and poem, thanks for sharing

On 15/4/08 , Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Lovely post. I loved your epitaph choice, too. The bad milk thing totally cracked me up - I've always felt bad milk was the root of all evil.

On 15/4/08 , Kimberly said...

Poignant and moving. Thank you.

On 15/4/08 , Jenna Consolo said...

I love that last address by McConkie too. So stirring. Your gravestone picture cracked me up. Really digesting that poem is going to take some energy. What a gift with words!

On 16/4/08 , Adriana Velez said...

"Kingfishers catch fire; dragonflies draw flame."

I love it -- well chosen!

"What I do is me: for that I came."

Great line. Thanks for playing along -- be it your words or Gerard's, it's a feast.

On 17/4/08 , Annette Lyon said...

I don't think I could ever play that game--too hard. Well done on your end.

I need to have my kids listen to McConkie's address--they're way to young to know about it.

On 17/4/08 , Brillig said...

Beautiful. Glad to have a link for the audio file. I'd never thought to look for it before. The talk is absolutely one of my favorites.

(Only you could start with bad milk and end with McConkie-- and make it work.) :-D

On 20/4/08 , dawn said...

Wonderful words and thanks for including the poem to make it more meaningful. Living for what we came for is our greatest calling.