Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rumi - The Question

One dervish to another, What was your vision of God's presence?
I haven't seen anything.
But for the sake of conversation, I'll tell you a story.

God's presence is there in front of me, a fire on the left,
a lovely stream on the right.
One group walks toward the fire, into the fire, another
toward the sweet flowing water.
No one knows which are blessed and which not.
Whoever walks into the fire appears suddenly in the stream.
A head goes under on the water surface, that head
pokes out of the fire.
Most people guard against going into the fire,
and so end up in it.
Those who love the water of pleasure and make it their devotion
are cheated with this reversal.
The trickery goes further.
The voice of the fire tells the truth, saying I am not fire.
I am fountainhead. Come into me and don't mind the sparks.

If you are a friend of God, fire is your water.
You should wish to have a hundred thousand sets of mothwings,
so you could burn them away, one set a night.
The moth sees light and goes into fire.
You should see fire and go toward light.
Fire is what of God is world-consuming.
Water, world-protecting.
Somehow each gives the appearance of the other.
To these eyes you have now what looks like water burns.
What looks like fire is a great relief to be inside.

You've seen a magician make a bowl of rice
seem a dish full of tiny, live worms.
Before an assembly with one breath he made the floor swarm
with scorpions that weren't there.
How much more amazing God's tricks.
Generation after generation lies down, defeated, they think,
but they're like a woman underneath a man, circling him.
One molecule-mote-second thinking of God's reversal of comfort and pain
is better than any attending ritual.
That splinter of intelligence is substance.
The fire and water themselves:
Accidental, done with mirrors.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tender Mercies

But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 1:20).

I've been at my new job for over 2½ months now. It's been a very difficult experience for me, being placed in a demanding position yet not knowing enough yet to meet even small requests. I've been trying to learn as fast as I can, because I don't like feeling incompetent. Sitting in my office all day each day, staring intently at my computer monitor has taken its toll on me in more ways than one. This week it has been on my right eye, which is hurting from all the strain. It's happened to me before. My solution was to buy a pirate-like eye patch at the pharmacy and wear it for a few days to give that eye a rest.

But in our recent move, my eye patch has gone missing. I looked for it at the house last night, and arrived at work this morning hoping I had brought it there with other things from my last job, but I couldn't find it. I knew I would have a really hard time working effectively today without an eye patch, so I left to go to the pharmacy to buy another one. As I did, I thought confidently, "Heavenly Father will help me get an eye patch."

When I arrived at the only pharmacy in town, it wasn't open yet. If I had thought about it before I left, I would have known that. I left my car running at the curb and went to the door of the pharmacy to check their hours. They open at 9am, as I had thought. I didn't want to have to come back later, and I didn't know anywhere else in town that would carry eye patches.

As I stood there, a lady came to the door of the pharmacy, opened it, and asked if I needed anything. I said I did, but that I knew they didn't open until 9:00. She asked if I needed anything from the pharmacy (they have cards and gifts there too). I asked if they sold eye patches. She said they did, and let me in and showed me where they were. I promptly purchased one, thanked her, and drove back to work.

I knew immediately that it was a miracle, a "tender mercy" from the Lord. In retrospect, I believe that my confident thought that Heavenly Father would help me find another eye patch was not merely a passing thought in my mind, but rather an inspired thought from the Holy Ghost. (We don't always know the source of our thoughts, but it is up to us to judge what we believe to be good and what we will act on.) I was filled with gratitude that Heavenly Father was mindful of my problem, and that He helped me find a solution.

Heavenly Father is aware of our needs and will help us as we call upon Him for assistance. I believe that no concern of ours is too small or insignificant. The Lord is in the details of our lives (Thomas S. Monson, Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Consider The Blessings," October 2012).

Why does God not help me solve all my problems this way? some may ask. But I know the answer, because I have children of my own. I want them to learn and to grow, and to experience the joy of their capabilities and capacities developing and unfolding. Not all learning and growing experiences are pleasant (though neither are they all painful). If I answered their every question and supplied my children's every want I would be doing them a great disservice. It is the same with God and us. He is literally our Spirit Father, and we are literally His children. By this definition, we are capable of becoming like He is. The ramifications of this are, at present, scarcely fathomable to our mortal, finite minds. But I know that He watches over each one of us with an individual care and attention that far exceeds what a mortal parent could do even if that parent were to hover over their child constantly, which no mortal parent can. He is always accessible, never distant, and cannot forget us.

Again we ask: why does God not help me solve all my problems this way? Actually, I think that He is willing to. Here is another account of a similar miracle. Ether 2:22-3:6 contains a scriptural account of the Lord helping someone solve a problem. He wants to help and indeed, in His Omnipotence, it would be easy for him to remove all struggle and obstacles from our lives. Rather, we have access to His Grace through our faith, our repentance, our best doable efforts, and our patient trust in both Him and His Timetable. He will help us as we strive to do what's right and seek His will above our own.