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Music & the Spoken Word: The bitter and the sweet

Rather than seeing life as sunny or rainy days, what if life were seen as a continuous cycle of seasons where the joy, trials, bitter and sweet depend on each other, Lloyd Newell shares

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Sunday, March 5, 2023.

We all know that some days can be full of peace and happiness, while other days seem to be unrelentingly hard. As one 6-year-old so wisely said, “You can have a no-problem day, but you can’t have a no-problem life” (see Max Kenyon, in “Cougar Query: ‘You Will Find What You’re Looking for, So Look for the Good,” BYU News, Sept. 27, 2022, news.byu.edu).

What can we learn from this simple observation? Maybe one takeaway is that it doesn’t do much good to count up our good days and bad days. Life wasn’t meant to be a worry-free ride, and if our happiness depends on the absence of problems, most days will be disappointing.

What if, rather than dividing our lives into sunny days and rainy days, we saw life as one continuous cycle of seasons — where the rain is just as needed as the sunshine. Of course some moments are especially joyous, like the birth of a child, but this joy comes only after the stress — even the pain — of labor and delivery. When that child grows and eventually leaves home, we might feel a bit of heartbreak, but only because of the sweet memories we made over the years — memories we wouldn’t trade for anything. Thus the joy and the sadness, the bitter and the sweet depend on one another. Endings give way to beginnings just as beginnings give way to endings.

As much as we might want to skip over the tragedies and hold onto the triumphs, we can’t have one without the other. So we come to appreciate the stark beauty of a snow-white winter, while also rejoicing when the snow melts and gives way to a glorious spring. After a long, hot summer, we welcome the brisk colors of fall, even as we recognize that those colors mean another winter is on its way. And the cycle continues.

Sure, we’re thankful for the occasional, no-problem day. But we also know that good days are temporary and bad days, in time, become better. This larger perspective helps us carry on and hope on. No, none of us will have a no-problem life, but if we can learn to savor both the bitter and the sweet, we can still create a good life.

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, KSL.com, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoir and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.

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