We had a lot going on this weekend, and while we ran from here to there, I was taken with thought. Many of the activities we participated in and attended, provoked some serious reflection and even stirred some raw emotion inside of me.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday we attended a funeral. Our neighbor in the house right behind ours passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. I was so saddened to hear of his passing. He was such a sweet man, and was always kind to us and to our children. We sat toward the back of the chapel for the service, but from where I was sitting, I had a direct view of one of his sons sitting on the front row with his wife. I watched as the two of them held each other tightly and sobbed. I couldn't help but feel their heartache, as I know and understand all too well the pain and anguish of losing a parent. Feelings of my own mom's passing, as well as the memories of the day we lowered her body into the cold hard ground, came flooding back...and the tears came fast and hard. I cried for my friends sitting there on the front row (because I know how difficult the upcoming days, weeks, months, and even years, will be for them) and I also cried for me...because, although it's been over 12 years since my mom's passing, it sometimes still hurts as if we lost her just yesterday.
For some reason my heavy heart from Saturday carried over into Sunday...and I just couldn't shake it. Then I realized that it was my mom's birthday, and that if she were still here today, we'd be ringing in her 55th year of life. It made me sad to think about all the birthday's she's missed...not just her birthdays, but my birthdays, (and my kids' birthdays, and my siblings' and my dad's)...and not just birthdays either, but weddings, and sealings, and the birth of her 7 grandchildren. It just doesn't seem right or even fair to have all of those experiences and not be able to share them with your mother.
Last night, though, we attended a fireside in the backyard of one of our bishopric members. At the beginning of the year a challenge was issued to all the members of our ward to read the Book of Mormon in 90 days (approx. 6 pages per day), which would put us completing it in it's entirety, just in time for general conference. I love challenges, and I love the Book of Mormon, (and I especially love a good Book of Mormon challenge) so the decision to participate was an easy one for me. Before we began our reading, we were encouraged to take note of how many times the Savior was mentioned on each page. With my blue highlighter pencil in hand, I began my reading; and soon found that I was pausing every 15-30 seconds to mark another mention of His name. The Lord of Hosts, Jesus, The Almighty, Holy One of Israel, Christ, Lamb of God, Creator, Lord, Only Begotten Son, Redeemer, Messiah, Lord Omnipotent, Holy One, Son of Righteousness...and so on. As I got going, I was blown away. There were pages where He was mentioned 15-20 times, and some even more. I have read the Book of Mormon countless times throughout my life, and each time I pull something different and special from my experience; but this time was particularly special because as I was searching for my Savior in my reading, as I was focusing my thoughts and feelings toward Him...my relationship with Him was strengthened, my love for Him increased, and my understanding of His infinite sacrifice and atonement was enhanced. I came to know and understand something I really thought I already knew...that the Savior is the central figure of the Book of Mormon. The book truly is another Testament of Him. It was fascinating to read of all the ancient prophets - long before His time on earth -who prophesied of His birth and atonement. And then of all those that lived after His crucifixion and death - who also prophesied of Him as being our Savior and Redeemer. I particularly loved, this time around, reading about His personal visit to the Nephites on the American continent, my heart was touched as He taught them the Beatitudes, and of course, when He blessed their beloved little children. And when He prayed for them, and how His words were so sacred that they couldn't be repeated or even recorded. I often wonder if He prays for me the way He prayed for them. And then I have to remind myself that I know He does.
It was so peaceful the night of our fireside, sitting outside under the beauty of the stars and the light of the moon. It was just a small group of saints, but the Spirit was powerful as we each shared some of our individual thoughts and feelings...our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and of the Savior. I was so grateful for the experience, because finally the heavy heart that I had carried with me through the weekend, felt light. And it was made light because of Him. He bore our griefs so that we wouldn't have to suffer alone. Because of Him, we can have hope. He abolished death, and overcame the grave. And because of Him, we will live again. And if we do our part, we will live again - with those whom we loved the most in mortality. Because of Him, my grief stricken, heart-broken friends sobbing on the front row at their father's funeral, will find peace and comfort, they will be reunited with him again one day. Because of Him, I will see my mom again, and not only will I be able to embrace her and rejoice...but we will be together throughout the eternities. It's all made possible because of Him - our Savior, Jesus Christ. He paved the way, and made it all possible. I am so blessed to have had this special experience with the Book of Mormon, and another special moment when the Spirit put everything into perspective for me, and taught me that all of this, everything, the whole purpose of our existence, the air we breath, the relationships we have, the experiences for learning and growth, birth and death, resurrection, and the opportunity for exaltation and eternal life...is all made possible because of Him.