Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Love, Conduit of Light pt. 2

While rereading this quote I had shared on my cousin's scripture study fb site today, some thoughts begged to be expressed. I realized as I wrote the feelings that came that it was the second part of this previous post about love being a conduit of light that I had not felt ready to write yet. First, the quote:

Faith does not exist by itself. Faith requires an object. It must be faith in something or someone. In that respect, faith is like love. Love cannot exist without an object.... Love is meaningless unless it is directed toward something or someone. We love our parents. We love our brothers and sisters. We love the Lord.
      Faith is the same. If we think we have faith, we should ask, faith in whom or faith in what? For some, faith is nothing more than faith in themselves. That is only self-confidence or self-centeredness. Others have faith in faith, which is something like relying on the power of positive thinking or betting on the proposition that we can get what we want by manipulating the powers within us... faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a conviction and trust that God knows us and loves us and will hear our prayers and answer them with what is best for us.
      In fact, God will do more than what is best for us. He will do what is best for us and for all of our Heavenly Father’s children. The conviction that the Lord knows more than we do and that he will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us and for all of his other children is a vital ingredient of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."   
~ Dallin H. Oaks, April 1994

I have experienced so strongly how important it is to examine what we dominantly have faith in (our self, our culture, another person, an idea etc. OR Christ), because what we have faith in creates a link; a conduit.  

We feel this. It is as real as gravity or any physical force (like the quote from Interstellar expresses), yet it is a spiritual force. Pondering and connecting words we use to describe that link (such as "faith," "love of God," or "covenant") helps me identify and examine the state of this link.  If our connection with Christ is weak, then it (our love or faith etc.) is a weak conductor of his Light; his healing, creating, strengthening power. 

The more I learn of my Savior, the more sincerely I want to ponder (and realize often by the Spirit's nudges) what is causing the link to weaken or erode. Taking time to remember when I have been nourished by this "spiritual umbilical cord" before, my desire increases (and I feel direction from the Spirit how) to act in ways that can repair the gap--such a conduit is alive and fluid, strengthening or weakening in every moment. 

("Forgiven" by Greg Olsen). I've always loved this painting for how it symbolizes that link between me and Christ with the clasped hands, between his purity, power and glory (white robe), and my mortal state (blood red robe); for its visual reminder that such a link is the most beautiful and nourishing thing I can experience in this life--worth every effort to seek and sustain. 

With my eyes opened, I now have a choice: I can choose things that feel they increase light--strengthen that link with the Source of Light--and with that added light, I have more power to chase away darkness (resolve the gap in the link). Or I can ignore the gap and receive less light; understand less truth; experience more darkness. Because Christ is the Source of all Light and life, I have experienced that distancing myself from him is like a plant hiding from the Sun (isn't it interesting, the plants that produce edible fruit that is most nourishing are never shade plants).

Examining, assessing, feeling out this link, acting to strengthen it, and feeling love, power, healing, and peace increase from that relationship with Christ is what I feel is expressed and envision with the word: atonement. The atonement was not an event. The at-one-ment is now. It is a process of the at-one-ment between my Savior and I in each present moment. 

So in this moment, I choose to love, to bind, to connect, to commune: To have faith in Christ.


    ... each of you needs to build a reservoir of faith so you can draw upon it when someone you love or respect betrays you, when some scientific discovery seems to cast doubt on a gospel principle... You need to draw on your reservoir of faith when you are weak or when someone else calls on you to strengthen them. You also need to draw on your reservoir of faith when some requirement of Church membership or service interferes with your personal preferences....

     Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares you for whatever life brings. This kind of faith prepares you to deal with life’s opportunities—to take advantage of those that are received and to persist through the disappointments of those that are lost.  ~Ibid.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Words That Move Me: Forget Me Not

The Agony in the Garden by Frans Schwartz

It's Easter week. Today is Thursday. It is the day of the Garden of Gethsemane. Tomorrow, the crucifixion and burial. 

I gaze at this depiction of Christ and the angel in the garden and these events over two thousand years ago feel especially close and present. They are events no longer about some distant religious figure, the Son of God. They are events that are intimately connected with my life. 
"I desired more physical light in order to have seen more clearly. But I was answered in my reason: "If God wishes to show thee more, He shall be thy light. Thou needest none but Him." For I saw Him and still sought Him, for we are now so blind and so unwise that we never seek God until He of His goodness shows Himself to us; and when we see anything of Him by grace, then are we moved by the same grace to try with great desire to see Him more perfectly. And thus I saw Him and I sought Him, and I possessed Him and I lacked Him... He wishes to be seen and He wishes to be sought, He wishes to be awaited and He wishes to be trusted."   (Julian of Norwich, The Complete Julian, p.95)
What I have seen increases my desire to see and to be "oned" with him. It pulls me in almost like gravity, but instead of an irresistible weight, Divine Love gently waits for me to turn and to seek. When I do, it does not resist me
"When we are on a spiritual plateau, it is necessary for us to understand that we cannot go beyond that plateau until we increase our level of sacrifice and our ability to move one step further." 
(F. Enzio Busche, Yearning for the Living God, p.92)
There is power in sacrifice; in acts of divine love. Plateau's are meant to be moments for us to catch our breath and then to continue on. Sacrifice is the spiritual weight lifting of life. It must continue to increase if we are to grow. But it is more than that. 

Sacrifice is the highlighter in the book of life. By giving what we could love most, we reveal the center of our love; what pulls us in; what we orbit. 

And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep... The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands... and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me... and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?" (Moses 7:29-37)
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:5) 
 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.  (Mosiah 4:12)
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39) 
I feel him increase the pull of his love; he extends his loving hand and invites me to stretch and grow; to increase my level of sacrifice and progress; to come nearer.
"The highest bliss that exists is to have God in the radiance of endless life, seeing Him truly, experiencing Him sweetly, all peacefully enjoying Him in fullness of joy. (And thus was the blessed face of our Lord shown, but only partially.) In this showing I saw that sin is most opposite to this, to such an extent that as long as we are mixed up with any part of sin, we shall never see clearly the blessed face of our Lord. And the more horrible and the more grievous our sins are, the deeper distance are we from this blessed sight for that time." 
(Julian of Norwich, The Complete Julian, p. 329).

Time is different with God, scriptures teach. "God lives in the eternal now where past and present, and future are constantly before him." (Neal A. Maxwell) 

To me, that means the at-one-ment is now. We can come into the yoke with him now. And he enters that garden with us and takes it all upon him now. 
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you restTake my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heartand ye shall find rest unto your souls." 
(Matthew 11:28-29)
What is left for us becomes a burden that is light (Matthew 11:30). We are able to bear it with such a loving companion at our side. 

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now... One must accept the security of the winged life, of ebb and flow, of intermittency. 
    Intermittency - an impossible lesson for human beings to learn. How can one learn to live through the ebb-tides of one's existence? How can one learn to take the trough of the wave? It is easier to understand here on the beach, where the breathlessly still ebb tides reveal another life below the level which mortals usually reach."
    (Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gifts from the Sea, p.100-101)

Such tides reveal the truths of eternity we otherwise cannot see. The ebbing eternal sea at such times pulls back its veil just a little and opens our eyes... 

I have taken shells of wisdom as tokens of what I have seen at such ebb tides. Many are gathered here on this page, but I warn those who pass by:

While these shells are beautiful, you will no doubt recognize they are missing something. You have saved shells revealed at ebb tides in your life. You know how in showing them to others, you cannot bring to their mind what comes to yours: how they were buried in the soft white sand, or were hidden, caked in seaweed and mud. They cannot feel how long you had to dig, the seagulls song in the air, the cliffs, the rocks, the roar of the wave, the foam, the smell of the salt, the torrid sun, or the biting wind. You cannot describe the fear you may have felt at the vastness of the sea before you, the storm that may have raged, or the calm lapping waves that may have brought an unusual peace while you gathered wisdom's shells. 

Shells are important to take with us; a remembrance. But they are only ever a piece of that one present moment. "They are only there to remind me that the sea recedes and returns eternally." We must return to the beach or their meaning fades. 

My shells are words that move me. They bring me back there, to the beach. They represent what I feel and know: His love is infinite. His love is intimate. 
 ... The prophet Abinadi further states that “when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed” (Mosiah 15:10)... For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15), “[bore] our griefs, … carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:4–5). The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us.

 The Pearl of Great Price teaches that Moses was shown all the inhabitants of the earth, which were “numberless as the sand upon the sea shore” (Moses 1:28). If Moses beheld every soul, then it seems reasonable that the Creator of the universe has the power to become intimately acquainted with each of us. He learned about your weaknesses and mine. He experienced your pains and sufferings. He experienced mine. I testify that He knows us. He understands the way in which we deal with temptations. He knows our weaknesses. But more than that, more than just knowing us, He knows how to help us if we come to Him in faith.   
(Merril J. Bateman)

This Easter week may be the time when the world remembers. But He never forgets. 
And I hear him calling in each present moment, "Forget me not."  
"Forget Me Not" by Annie Henrie