Spiritual Experiences – Part I

We humans are spiritual creatures. We are touched and moved to greatness when we reach to the divine. We reach the divine by external service, care, and love.  As Paul declared, “the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)  We are never moved more, but when the innocent are protected and saved by the selfless mortal sacrifice of others.”Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).

When I ponder loving parental Gods sending their perfect and innocent Son to satisfy the demands of justice and to quench the thirsty fires of human suffering; when I reflect on the willingness of our Savior to physically experience the legion of sorrow and pain in order to “know how to give succor,” I am emotionally and spiritually moved in a character defining way. My identity is shaped by the Christian narrative. I am more charitable, understanding, and empathetic because of my Christian belief.

The movie adaptation if the musical Les Miserables climaxes with the redemption of the protagonist. At his death, he is welcomed by the angel mother of his adopted daughter, who died a wretched death, in a small part for his carelessness. For all his weaknesses and short comings, his goodness and selflessness have mattered.  He labored sufficient. His offer accepted. He was redeemed. I have never been more moved.

My soul yearns for his redemption. The film is sacred. My experience touched the divine.

What follows are a few of these powerful moments I have encountered.

When I was nineteen, freshly on my mission, a sister in our district at the MTC in Provo, was experiencing difficulties in regard to her non-mormon family, learning the new language, and handling general anxiety. One night, after our lessons had finished, the whole district, 11 of us, or so, gathered around her and gave her a blessing. She asked that I give it. What followed was advice, comforting words, and above all a deep emotion. We felt unity, divine love, and a powerful external hope that cheered and calmed all fear. Surpassing description, heaven opened a conduit to our emotions. Although relatively mature, for my age, I said things far wiser than my abilities.

Further on my mission, we were teaching a family. The children were from a previous marriage. We wanted to meet the father and invite him to church, as well. Despite our given directions, we got confused with all of the ally ways, and side dwellings. We stood on the sidewalk across a busy street. With faith I prayed silently to know where to go. Immediately, out pops a little head from a gate. One of the 7 year old sons was staring at us with a grin on his face. There was the house, and there was the father.

Earlier, in the CCM, we visited the temple weekly. During one session while sitting in the telestial room waiting my turn to go through the veil, I felt a closeness to revelation. I asked about my family, and felt that they pray for me every night. I asked about my progress, and felt I had done well. I wanted to ask more, but simply felt a memorably unique calming presence.

I had a dream, a few years back. I dreamt it was my Grandpa Clarke’s funeral. (A year or two before he passed) At the viewing I saw his body lying in the casket. When I passed it he sprung up and began to talk to me. Dreams have the ability to ignore the unusual. He had come from the beyond to prophecy to his family one last time. Again, the same deep feeling of peace and love permeated the room and my memory of the dream. It stuck with me the following morning.

When the actual funeral arrived, I wondered if the experience might repeat itself, in some way. It did not. I felt the love, reverence, and mourning we all experience at a loss. It was beautiful and emotional, but not transcendent.

After my son was born, I discovered a new emotion: parental love. This feeling is always spiritual. One of my first impressions about my child was his perfect innocence.  More than ever before, my heart aches when I witness the unnecessary suffering of the innocent. How perfect and innocent are children. How evil and damnable are those that harm them. As adults, all humans are children to somebody, although no longer as innocent, nor hardly as perfect, my heart overflows when I hear of needless pain. Especially when caused the preventable hand of another.

The words in the scriptures have moved me, and have encouraged me to become more. I feel divinely challenged every time I hear Christ’s injunction to “do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44) I feel compelled to action reading The Book of Mormon verses that teach about the meaning of a covenant entering into the fold of God by being “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” (Mosiah 18:9) And finally, Alma the younger’s description of the broader scope of Jesus’ atonement found in his seventh chapter is the bedrock of my Christian faith.

Recently, I reviewed the Teachings of Joseph Smith. As I re-read all of the underlined parts, I felt a sense of awe for the view of eternity. He tried to capture an infinite God, and make Him accessible. The King Follett discourse taught that we, too, have the seeds to be just as eternal and infinite.

The Lord teaches that not all have “every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts.  To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.”  This is part of his plan.  It is divinely appointed that diversity in gifts is more profitable than sameness.  By being different we bless each other by offering something unique to the table.  Unlike Paul’s declaration that charity supersedes hope and faith, this revelation offers no order of preference for the gifts.  The gift to know is only mentioned as one among many.  (D&C 46:11-14).  In all of scripture, there is no salvific requirement to know.  How can belief offer things to the table of those who know?  Epistemic humility is a requirement for new revelation and insights.  Elder Uchtdorf asked, “How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?”