Monday, August 31, 2015

A Study in Light and Love

"And then our Lord opened my spiritual eye and showed me my soul in the midst of my inner self. I saw my soul as large as if it were an endless world and as if is were a blessed kingdom; and by the circumstances I saw in it I understood that it is an honorable City. In the midst of that City sits our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man... And in this He showed the delight that He has in the creating of man's soul... And thus I understood truly that our soul can never have rest in things that are beneath itself [in the earth]... The highest light and the brightest shining of the City is the glorious love of our Lord as I see it." ~ Julian of Norwich (The Complete Julian, Chapter 67)

"And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you..." (D&C 50:23-25)

"As we learn in these scriptures, the fundamental purposes for the gift of agency were to love one another and to choose God. Thus we become God’s chosen and invite His tender mercies as we use our agency to choose God." ~ David A. Bednar, LDS General Conference, April 2005. 

 "So was I taught to choose Jesus for my heaven, whom I saw only in pain at that time. I desired no other heaven than Jesus, who shall be my bliss when I come there. And this has ever been a comfort to me: that I chose Jesus for my heaven, by His grace, in all this time of suffering and sorrow. And that had been a learning for me that I should evermore do so, choosing only Jesus for my heaven in well and woe." ~ Julian of Norwich (Chpt. 19)

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.... As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
... If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." ~ John 15:4-5, 9-12

"And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things,which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things. 
...He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him,and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever." ~ D&C 88:11-13, 41

Love is a conduit of light. The greater the love, the greater impartation of light, the greater capacitating power to absorb truth and grow in spiritual intelligence; the greater increase in glory. 

God's love is the sun by which we grow into our divine potential. His truth is the living water. This earth with the dunging, digging, and pruning we experience is the soil and garden we have been lovingly planted in to grow and progress. 

"And He gave me knowledge truthfully that it was He who showed me everything before... and said most sweetly: 'Be well aware that it was no raving that thou sawest today, but accept it, and believe it, and keep thyself in it, and comfort thyself with it, and trust thyself to it, and thou shalt not be overcome.'  
"These last words were said to teach true certainty that it is our Lord Jesus who showed me everything. ... And all this teaching and this true comfort is universal for all my fellow Christians as was said before--and this is God's will... 
"He said not, 'Thou shalt not be tempted; thou shalt not be troubled; thou shalt not be distressed,' but He said, 'Thou shalt not be overcome.' God wills that we take heed to these words, and that we be very strong in certain trust, in well and in woe, for as He loves and delights in us, so He wills that we love Him and delight in Him and strongly trust in Him; and all shall be well."  
 ~ Julian of Norwich (Chpt. 68)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Morsels of Goodness

My left wrist's tendinitis I've been babying for over a year finally decided to call it enough. For the first time since 11th grade, I'm in a long-term brace again. Typing and playing music is reduced for the rest of the year. How grateful I am for music students and my children who give me the opportunity to still work with music. And thank you Mac for making a dictation tool on my laptop!  

This will be short and sweet. Morsel's of goodness that are nourishing my soul. First, a poem from a poet I have begun to discover:

Christine Rossetti, Later Life: A Double Sonnet of Sonnets, #5

Lord, Thou Thyself I love and only Thou;
Yet I who am not love would fain love Thee;
But Thou alone being Love canst furnish me 
With that same love my heart is craving now.
Allow my plea! for if Thou disallow, 
No second fountain can I find but Thee;
No second hope for help is left to me, 
No second anything, but only Thou.
Oh Love accept, according my request;
Oh Love exhaust, fulfilling my desire:
Uphold me with the strength that cannot tire, 
Nerve me to labor till Thou bid me rest, 
Kindle my fire from Thine unkindled fire, 
And charm the willing heart from out my breast.

This last morsel needs a little introduction. 

I have had a great desire growing in me over the year: to learn of the searches for truth great minds had embarked on and what they had discovered. I have also felt I needed to be accountable for such searching. So I acted upon this growing feeling last month and registered for classes.  I’ll be working on a second degree, this time in philosophy; one or two classes at a time, going slow and absorbing all I can. 

Then last week, I was at the bookstore purchasing a little book for a friend who had lost her mother recently. Sitting next to that book was another that called to me and I let it tag along to the cash register. 

And it has happened again! I felt a nudge. I acted upon it, and soon after, I am led to find beautiful words that express the feelings I could only feel and stumble to explain. I read them again today and feel such nourishment from truth that I would be greedy not to share it with my "neighbors." 

We will not be able to develop his heart within us with only a surface understanding of our fellow men—or with alienation because of difference, whatever the source of that dissimilarity. In this wonderful world of knowledge it is easy to learn. Is not this part of "the gathering"? We rightly call this age the "dispensation of the fullness of times." Notice that the phrase is plural—“times,” not “time.” We want all the best from every age and corner of the globe. 

… One day my teacher gave me a compass. It was a simple instrument with a sharp point on one leg and a pencil secured at the tip of the other. She showed me that by planting the pointed leg firmly and stretching out with the other leg, I could draw a perfect circle. 
… As I grew I was taught how to draw another circle by a divine teacher, one that encompassed truth, beauty, and goodness. The spiritual compass also has two feet—one I call “the fixed foot," and the other, "the searching foot." We all have this spiritual compass. 
… It took a good measure of spiritual maturity for me to realize that the great question of mortality was not really to find the one to church among all the false ones; rather it was to discover where truth and goodness and beauty had reached their most mature form and plant my fixed foot there. That is the critical starting point: Where will we place the fixed foot of our life's compass?  
There can be no true or complete circle without a center. 
… Placing the fixed foot is only half the task, not the whole of life's journey: We would draw the circle.  
…Truth is too grand to be found in such small dimensions. It is scattered around the world, God distributing his wonders as widely as the sower throwing grain. God would have the harvest cover the whole field. Light is given not only in the scriptures or through prophetic inspiration, but in multiple ways. Our Father in Heaven is a light–giving God and dispenses it as widely as the stars. 
… I have learned that there is a tremendous amount of truth we can circumscribe if we reach out with the searching foot. Is this not as important as planting the fixed foot? We need to get them in the right order, of course. We do not wish to go dancing on both feet through the offerings of the world, picking up bits and pieces of truth here and there without ever taking the time, energy of thought, and introspection to find our fixed point. There is a certain intellectual and spiritual laziness in that approach. Discovering the right midpoint will give us the best perspective of the whole, the broad view from the peak, the best chance of encompassing all truth and avoiding error. Remember you cannot draw a perfect circle without an immovable center point.  
… I believed that my Father in Heaven is a loving God toward all his children. My idea of him was often difficult to align with this rather limited understanding of his interaction with humankind. What of the Chinese? What of those in India? He speaks often of his voice penetrating even the isles of the sea. What about those during the centuries of darkness we call the Great Apostasy? Surely God would speak to humanity through every voice he could find. I firmly believe this. God has many voices. If we cannot hear his voice in that of a prophet or apostle, perhaps we can hear it in that of the sage, or a poet, or a philosopher, or playwright, or an artist. Their voices also find their roots in God. In time, I came to desire—to hunger for, really—these other voices. I sensed I would have to reach my searching foot far afield to bring them into my circle of understanding.  
That reach has made all the difference in my life and in my love of God.  
… Almost always in the Scriptures, light is interchangeable with truth. The light of Christ is his truth—that that which he has given us. With the light of Christ as our foundation, our point of planting, we are free to explore and encouraged to augment. 
… At times, I fear that we receive the Lord’s beautiful light only to continually gaze at it reverently. Is not the purpose of light to push back the darkness? Is it not to see with greater clarity? As the Psalms testify, light was given that we might see with it and discover new and enhancing truth… what I marvel at is how much God has accomplished with ordinary people who are also part of flawed humanity. We can't have pure Saints—or profits, apostle's, or holy man for that matter. We need to quit perpetuating the myth that they exist. 
… Other than Jesus Christ, imperfection has been true for Joseph Smith, Moses, Peter, President Thomas S. Monson, or any other scriptural personality or living leader. To believe otherwise is to deny humanity.… The greatest personalities are still part and parcel of their surrounding culture. 
… I repeat: God has many voices. I believe he desires to get as much goodness, beauty, and truth as he can into the lives and hearts and minds of the people of this world…. “Know ye not that there are more nations than one?” the Lord asked (2 Nephi 29:7). Let us answer, “Yea, Lord, we know. We have reached! We have searched!…”

               ~ S. Michael Wilcox, 10 Great Souls I want to Meet in Heaven, xv-11.