Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Divine Alchemy

Twisting, turning, churning inward. Am I forming the shell that will one day be hollow? Or becoming more full of myself, centered in my own thoughts with "no room" for the Presence I want to fill me?

"Turn outward" echoes in my mind as it bounces against the strains of thought that clutter the space I call my brain. "Listen to a music not your own."

It helps that today is my teaching day.  Friends come and play their music for me - paying me to do just that. Oh, how I'd do it for free. It's this very thing that pulls me out, leaving some space for God to fill; a crack here, a sliver there for some light to grow and shine through.

My last student is a dear friend. Further in the journey of life then me in more ways than just age.  Bubbly, happy, excited to share the latest gem she found while cleaning out her closet.  What are the jewels she cherishes?  Words. A speech savored long ago and put away, now found again. "Oh! I'm sure you'd love it, too! I'll send it to you. You have to read it!"  I go to my room. I read the link she sends. This is the music I should share on this blog.  I'm sure I'm too out of tune to convey anything of beauty. 

...At about the same time that San Justo was built and consecrated, the psuedoscience known as alchemy became popular throughout Europe. It searched for its own restorations: to transform base metals into gold, to discover a universal cure for disease, and to prolong life indefinitely. Its practitioners attempted to heal, to make what is common precious, and to find eternal life. Today we see their error—not in their objective, but in their impatience; in their attempt to coerce the bestowal of gifts that are real but uniquely divine; in their unwillingness to wait patiently on the Lord for the endowment of his grace. These processes are part of the intimate restoration, a process that exalts what is low; that binds the wounds of disappointment and discouragement; and that extends unbreakable, eternal promises. I bear testimony of these intimate restorations.
I have been thinking about the varied transformations of memory. King Benjamin concludes his sermon by asking us to "remember, and perish not" (Mosiah 4:30). In contrast to his reminder, we have Lot's wife, who paused and longingly turned back to her past. Her transformation into a pillar of salt is emblematic of the paralysis that overcomes us when we live too much in memories. Often we resist letting go of the sin or the sadness or the offenses that are an inevitable consequence of life outside Eden. Sometimes we idealize our past in such a way that the present cannot compete with it: we make icons of the "good old days," of the former sweetheart, or of a favorite ward and shut out contemporaries who might otherwise bless us. Conversely, when we properly submit our memories to the transformations of grace, we begin to experience intimate restorations....
...This public event becomes a model for an intimate restoration. How common this most singular scene! How often have we fought with darkness? How many have felt their heart rend, like Bountiful's rocks, because of losing something or someone? What power less than that of Jesus Christ can transform the lead of mourning into a gold morning? The scriptures bear testimony of his ability to change us and our experiences. Could the magical transmutation of lead to gold be half as wondrous as these restorations described by Isaiah, "to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord" (Isaiah 61:3). Could any universal cure of disease be as healing as that transformation that takes place when our scarlet sins become white as snow?
.....God intends for us to be creators. Our experience with godlike creation begins with our eternal marriage. Just as the creation of our earth home required seven stages, so our marriages must pass through periods of work, transformation, and restoration before they are finished. Yet we expect our relationships on day one to exhibit the security and surety that only come on restful day seven. We forget that the only way we can successfully pass through the stages of creation is by employing the principles of the Atonement.
... Equipped with this knowledge, each of us has two choices. We can follow Satan's pattern and use it to bury our spouse's self-esteem—adding layers of disapproval like the plaster that covered San Justo's frescoes. Or we can follow Christ's model, loving perfectly through our shared imperfections, using our unconditional acceptance to cleanse away the accumulations of life. By forgiving each other, we lift each other from our sins, thereby receiving and imitating the intimate restoration of the Atonement. When we hold hands "gracefully," we sense, sacredly, engravings on our own palms, reminding us that the Atonement is the binding power of our marriage.

~ "The Intimate Restoration" by John R. Rosenberg