Monday, January 14, 2013

Reverence and other thoughts

Part of our lovely Christmas vacation included the opportunity to attend the temple sealing of Colby's little brother and his beautiful wife.  It was wonderful to be there, and throughout all the festivities I had a piercing, permeating feeling of significance.  I was close to tears the whole weekend, filled with tender feelings I could not (and still cannot) find words to express.  I was overwhelmed by the beauty of life, mortality, eternity, and human relationships, and somehow the beauty of the snow-covered mountains as we drove to Idaho seemed to echo the perfection of the Plan that I was beginning to see and feel a little more profoundly.  The majesty and love of our God and the beauty of his great Plan of Happiness are breathtaking.  
In reading some talks by Neal A. Maxwell recently, I have come across some quotes that seem to describe just how I am feeling.  

"Some of us have been momentarily wrenched by the sound of a train whistle spilling into the night air, and we have been inexplicably subdued by the mix of feelings that this evokes. Or perhaps we have been beckoned by a lighted cottage across a snow-covered meadow at dusk. Or we have heard the warm and drawing laughter of children at a nearby playground. Or we have been tugged at by the strains of congregational singing from a nearby church. Or we have encountered a particular fragrance which has awakened memories deep within us of things which once were. In such moments, we have felt a deep yearning, as if we were temporarily outside of something to which we actually belonged and of which we so much wanted again to be a part.
There are spiritual equivalents of these moments. Such seem to occur most often when time touches eternity. In these moments we feel a longing closeness—but we are still separate. The partition which produces this paradox is something we call the veil—a partition the presence of which requires our patience. We define the veil as the border between mortality and eternity; it is also a film of forgetting which covers the memories of earlier experiences. This forgetfulness will be lifted one day, and on that day we will see forever—rather than 'through a glass, darkly' (1 Corinthians 13:12)."

"sixth trap into which we can fall quite easily, brothers and sisters, is the trap in which we sense that something special is happening in our lives but are not able to sort it out with sufficient precision and clarity that we can articulate it to someone else. That is so often true of the gospel. Its truths are too powerful for us to manage on occasion. ... That is why we are so in need of the Spirit–so that knowledge can arc like electricity from point to point, aided and impelled by the Spirit—aid without which we are simply not articulate enough to speak of all the things which we know. ...Sometimes the things we know take the form of knowledge about what is happening to us in life in which we sense purpose, in which we sense divine design, but which we cannot speak about with full articulateness. There are simply moments of mute comprehension and of mute certitude. We need to pay attention when these moments come to us, because God often gives us the assurances we need but not necessarily the capacity to transmit these assurances to anyone else."

I would like more than anything to be able to write about these feelings.  Maybe it is impossible to capture them fully, but I would love to get close, to write something that would call to memory an echo of the majesty I have experienced.  I am beginning to understand the idea of "mute certitude."  I am discovering an example in my own life of that sacred scriptural occurrence I have wondered about for so long, where words are heard that cannot be expressed by mortal beings: "And after this manner do they bear record:  The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father; And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father." (3 Nephi 17:15-16).  Mute certitude.  I am discovering that my own heart can barely conceive the great and marvelous things I am witnessing in this glorious mortal life, or the joy that fills my own soul.  

I am convinced that motherhood has deepened my spiritual capacity, and I am so grateful.  Colby and Eli and I all took a nap together yesterday afternoon in our big bed, and Eli wasn't sleeping until I snuggled him up next to me and he could bury his face in my shirt.  And I just stroked his head and sniffed his little baby smell and drank him in.  And I started feeling a little bit tender because his cheeks won't be this round and smooth for very long, and he certainly won't be burying his face in my chest in about 15 years.  And I came to a realization.  The beauty of families is two-fold.  Some things in life are beautiful because they are fleeting, and that makes them more precious.  And some certain, important things are beautiful because they are among the few things that remain.  Families are all the more beautiful because of the duality - they have both kinds of beauty.  They change so quickly - children and relationships are so dynamic - but they are also permanent:  one of the only things in this life that is.  And I thought of one of my favorite Robert Frost Poems, "Nothing Gold Can Stay." 
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest huge to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.   

The distinction being that families have a golden sheen of Eden on the galvanized steel of eternity.  

The talks in Sacrament meeting yesterday were on reverence.  I thought they were extremely interesting, and learned reverence is actually a lot deeper concept than Primary makes it sound.  A quote from today (the speaker was quoting someone but I don't know who): "Reverence is the highest human feeling, mingled with the profoundest respect and love." 
They also used the definition: "a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe."  
I love the phrase "tinged with awe."  My deep and tender and grateful feelings lately have certainly been so, and after Sacrament meeting today, I think that I can put a name to those feelings and the name is reverence. 
I am in love with this life.  

1 comment:

  1. I loved this. You write so eloquently and express things so powerfully. I feel honored to call you my friend.