Thursday, February 21, 2013

Opposition in all things

I've been trying to help Ellie understand algebra; that an equation is like a balance scale.  It struck me as I described to her how what we do to one side of the equation we must do to the other, the real-life side of math.  Math is suppose to represent the real world, but until recently, I never really thought of how it can or does.

 There is a scripture that says, "For it must needs be that there is opposition in all things." (2 Nephi 2:11).  Today, the truth of that statement shimmered.  It caught my attention and came to life as I thought of current life experiences; like I had a macro view of my life as one big algebra equation.

In a math equation, to find what is true about an unknown, we isolate that unknown variable through the use of what could be called opposition, right?  If something is being added to the unknown number, we subtract on both sides. If something is being multiplied to it, we divide on both sides. That opposition clarifies or makes known truth.

As I experience life, I'm made aware of the truths that are unknown to me that make things feel unsettled or unsolved.  Sometimes I find I just plug in a random number.  That can feel productive in a way, but it doesn't usually make the math work out right.  The times I really come to know something in a way that feels right is when opposition is used to teach me in a more precise manner just what "x" is.  Then that refreshing feeling comes as I plug in the truth that is now known to me; as I apply it in my life and the "numbers add up."  That truth yields increased understanding of what the equation as a whole might equal. 

I had a moment of finding the value of one of those many unknowns last Fall.  A dear friend and mentor passed along a transcript to me of a speech given by a woman named Valerie Hudson Cassler. (You can find an essay version of it here).  While reading it, I had a life-altering experience.  The effects of which will be felt for years to come I have no doubt.

A couple months after that while browsing Cassler's online journal, I came across an article that expands on these ideas in regards to the symbolic nature of birth, conception, pregnancy etc. (I would think all women would find the section entitled, "What about the Childless" especially helpful).

Today, reading it again with this idea in mind I couldn't help see the beauty of the opposition being described in this particular passage:
Death is inextricably fused with birth. Just as our passage into mortality can be considered a holy sacrament, our passage out of mortality is likewise sacred and necessary for progression. (...) Ultimately the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ makes both our mothers’ and our fathers’ work possible and complete by overcoming both death and sin. Although our mothers’ creations will die, through Christ the bonds of death were swallowed up. When Jesus Christ rose from the tomb, He first visited a woman, Mary. [86] In essence, he reported to Woman that her work of creation would now ultimately live. [87] The inseparability of birth and death is noted in the baptismal ordinance. In the same act of submersing the entire body in water and rising out again we symbolize both death and re-birth. (...)
Birth and death are two sides of the same reality. Jesus Christ taught this principle by analogy: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." [93] If they had not partaken of the fruit, Eve and Adam would still be alone in the Garden of Eden. Because they partook of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they accepted the reality that they would fall to the earth and die. But death did not come alone; tied to it was birth. Adam and Eve could now bear children. [94] Just as this introduction of death brought with it the possibility of birth, the death of Christ brought with it the possibility of re-birth. A modern-day prophet stated, “The death of Jesus Christ would not have taken place had it not been necessary." [95] In the weekly sacrament that commemorates His death, we break bread and drink water in symbolism of His broken flesh and spilt blood. In doing so we acknowledge the necessary and sacred nature of His death, but we also look forward with hope to the day that we will see Him again. In this we come full circle; birth gives rise to death, which gives rise to birth. 
              ~"The Sacrament of Birth" by Analiesa Leonhardt

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