Seeing Through The Veil

Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Acceptance, charity, Gospel, Pre-Existence | 21 comments

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  I Corinthians 13:12

You know how strings of musical instruments that share harmonic likeness, sometimes when struck or plucked, respond to each other with sympathetic vibration? Well, sometimes when I’m sitting in fast and testimony meeting I begin to feel something like that. Only, it’s inside me. Maybe you’ve felt it too. Maybe it’s the spirit whispering, or our own spirit recognizing the truth in someone else’s words. Sometimes it’s not in a church setting when it happens. But whatever it is, or whenever it happens, I’ve learned to pay attention. I try to listen to my heart and to the words being spoken. Most importantly, I seek to understand why I am responding to those particular words or ideas. I allow myself to wonder: Why does this resonate with me? What am I really hearing? Then I wait for answers.

Earlier this month, as the men and women in my ward began bearing their testimonies, I felt that familiar vibration.  My emotions began to soften, and somewhere in my adrenal glands preparation for fight or flight had begun.

As I listened to one of the local full time missionaries share his thoughts about how God looks upon the heart, I noticed my inner truth harp vibrating wildly. I began to see or feel an image of what we typically term the “veil of mortality.” I’ve always imagined the veil as a sort of curtain, behind which the world of spirit and our memories of heaven are concealed.

But on this particular day I saw or felt awareness of another kind of veil. I saw each human being veiled by the effects of the fall, each soul walking the earth, clothed not only in mortal flesh, but also in accoutrements of hardship, disability, and various distortions of truth inherent in earth life. When viewed this way, mortality separates us not only from the presence of God, but the veil also separates us from each other.

For some this veil takes the form of homelessness or addiction. For others it looks like crippling shyness, boisterousness or mental illness. Maybe rigid religiosity or inactivity in the church–or being a person of a different religion, race or sexual orientation is how the veil appears to us. Whatever keeps us (personally or individually) from connecting freely and lovingly with each other may be part of the veil. I have come to believe that heaven is not just a place we “go” when we are done with mortality. It is something we work to create as we live our lives. We are helping God prepare our eternal mansions with our every thought, word and action. Likewise, the veil isn’t just a curtain; it’s also a state of being.

In my understanding of celestial glory, we will return to that place we left by learning to shed our own personal veils; learning to live our truest lives and to love one another the way our Savior loves us. We must do this in order to be comfortable in His presence. We attempt this monumental task in what are perhaps the most challenging circumstances of our eternal existence–in mortality–where each of us is veiled in so many ways. Indeed, we see through a glass darkly.

Burning man 2013.rick egan

Yet, on occasion we are rewarded for our efforts. The scales fall from our eyes, the beam is cast out and whatever normally keeps us separate or at a safe distance from one another seems to disappear. In these rare and wonderful moments the veil is rent and we see each other as God sees us, clothed in light and love. We feel profound humility and respect as we experience communion and reunion with our eternal sisters or brothers; God is in our midst and, for a moment, we are home.

 

Have you shared a moment of loving clarity with a friend or stranger?

Have you had such a homecoming?

.                                                            .                                                      .                                                        Photo by Rick Egan, Burning Man 2013

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21 Comments

  1. I love this, thanks so much for sharing it! I love the idea that when we die the veil will be lifted and many of those artificial things that make it so hard to connect with other people will disappear. I had an experience running a long race recently that felt like that. I ran the last five miles with a woman I had never met before. We were way too tired to talk, I never learned her name or really anything about her. We just needed each other in order to keep going and finish, and at the last we agreed that we wouldn’t sprint or race to the finish, we’d cross together. I just felt a connection to her, even though I didn’t really know anything about her.

    • Beautiful story. How perfect.

    • “We just needed each other in order to keep going and finish.” I love reading about this moment and connection, too, Em. Thank you for posting it here.

      It (and the original post) remind me of something my Mission President taught, about the light of Christ. He thought that the light within us could sometimes recognize and connect with other’s light, on a level we may not be consciously aware of. He thought it was why we sometimes feel such ties to others, even sometimes right away.

  2. I love reading your words. Always. They never cease to be inspiring or thoughtful.

    Here, I particularly love the imagery (and phrase) of your “truth harp.” My own is reverberating strongly now. This last year I have come to feel very deeply that true love, God’s love, is true vision, God’s vision, just as you suggested. It is to see one another with Christ’s eyes.

    • Yes, Rachel! It feels like hard work to me. Every day. But well worth it. (Childbirth has such moments in abundance. I’ll be thinking of you in days to come.)

  3. “The scales fall from our eyes, the beam is cast out…..the veil is rent.” I love these images, and I agree that at times we catch a glimpse of each other’s true selves.

  4. When I read your words, I feel that harmonic ringing. I’ve realized I am more at peace when I acknowledge these reverberations. My soul makes unexpected connections that can absolutely change my outlook or how I perceive a situation. I feel this ringing quite literally in orchestras. I’m pretty sure the raw honesty of low notes is what brings me there–time and time again. It’s as if the very ligaments in my thighs echo the low tones and I find perspective and certainty.

    • Thank you, my dear, bassist friend.

  5. Melody, I felt a stirring in your soul…you described my own feelings well. You have a gift to learn, analyze, apply and give voice to what you reason. I love it!

  6. I had one of those moments with a woman who was the mother of my daughter’s friend. She was very kind, but our lives were very different. She had obviously had a rough life, it showed in her home, her face, her family. We were sort of friends, but not close at all.
    The day that they moved because they’d lost their home, I went over to say good-bye. That night, I laid in bed and thought about her. I wondered how different her life would be if she knew who she was. As I pondered this I had a ‘vision’ of her dressed in white, her hair lovely, her smile complete and bright. I just cried and cried, wishing she could see herself the way He does–without the veil.
    I love reading what you write. I love the way you share your amazing wisdom and make me say, “Oh, yes, that is true.” Thank you.

    • Thank you for sharing this, Julie.

  7. This.

  8. I have a friend who says his goal as a bishop is to see people with eternal eyes. I like that questin the same way I like this blog entry. It just feels right.

    Beautifully written.

    • Your friend sounds like a wonderful bishop.

  9. Lovely, Melody. As others mentioned, the comparison of feeling truth to harmonic music is perfect!

    While reading your words I thought of one of my favorite sections of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. In Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace- a naughty and unpleasant boy- accidently becomes a dragon- for that is what happens when one falls asleep in a dragon’s cave having dragon thoughts in one’s heart.

    He hates being a dragon. He begins to realize the problems he has caused and feels remorse.

    One night he dreams of Aslan beckoning him to follow him to a beautiful pond. Aslan tells him he must undress (or unveil) before he can enter the water. He sheds his skin multiple times (scales falling) but doesn’t fully unveil until Aslan uses his claw to rip through all the remaining layers of his dragon-skin. Aslan then shoves him into the water and though it smarts at first Eustace describes feeling the most exquisite joy.

    I appreciate your insight in understanding the veil as the mortal shroud covering each of us- not allowing us to see ourselves or others as we are. The parting of the veil then seems tantamount to having a change of heart. Receiving a change of heart is only possible through faith in Christ. Only he or our faith in him can really remove the veil from us.

    Thank you!

    • Oh my goodness, Abby, thank you for this wonderful story. . . what a perfect parallel. It never ceases to amaze me how truth is out there. We all feel it and see it, then express it in ways that make sense to us. Different languages, if you will, but the same message. I love this.

  10. Reading your blog made me think of how we dance with veils—sometimes hiding behind them, sometimes peeking around them, sometimes whirling them above our heads with bared faces. Yes, may we receive each other through this dance of veils.
    Lovely blog, Melody

    • Another beautiful image. Gentle and celebratory. Thank you for this, Phyllis. And for reading.

  11. The first thing that pops in my mind after reading this lovely post, is the time when I did NOT see someone correctly. I didn’t have the time or the patience to see this woman as anything more that different from me.

    I lived in the apartment directly above her, and I had been assigned to visit her. I had tried to set up a time to see her but she always cancelled or wasn’t home. I left her plates of goodies, and sometimes, a note. I would smile and say hello if I saw her but she never really responded, most times without even bothering to look up at me as she hurried by. I was a young mother of 3 little ones who spent lots of time running around our small apartment. I wondered if maybe she was unhappy with the constant noise above her, coming from my kids.

    After a few months I gave up trying. I told myself we were very different and most likely had nothing in common anyway. I was married, she was living with her boyfriend. I went to church all the time, I had never seen her there. She was super thin, I was carrying around extra pounds from my last pregnancy. She didn’t talk to people in our building, I talked to everyone. She and I were very different and I wondered why I had to be this assigned to visit a girl. Surely someone else could have better luck than me!

    It had been about 6 months since my first attempt to visit my down stairs neighbor and as stood in my tiny bathroom getting ready for church, I heard a familiar, frightening sound. Maybe I had heard wrong. I turned off the blow dryer and listened. This time the sounds coming up through the air vent on the floor were loud and clear. Glass was breaking & a man was yelling. I heard bangs and thuds and then I heard a woman. That young woman (the one I had given up on), was screaming for her life.

    I ran out of the bathroom and out the front door as fast as I could, yelling for Brian to call the police. I pounded on her door, rang the doorbell over and over until the police arrived. The boyfriend was taken away by one police officer while the other two officers talked to the victim. I stood in the doorway. She looked up from the sofa she was sitting on and our eyes met. She had blood on her face, marks on her neck, and yet she smiled at me and mouthed “Thank you”. Oh, the power of two simple words. I smiled back as tears ran down my face.

    I realized I had failed her. I’ll never forget the feelings of regret and shame. I could have helped her if only by listening, and letting her know I understood what it was like to be hurt. I wish I would have, but I didn’t.

    “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”

    As it turned out, she and I became good friends and I realized she and I had a great many things in common. She had felt alone, embarrassed, judged and scared. She needed someone who knew what she was feeling. She needed support. She needed a friend, someone she could trust and confide in. She needed me and I failed her. It is an awful feeling.

    When I look back at my life, I can think of many times I wish I would have said or done something differently. But I can honestly say that if given the chance, it is the things I didn’t do, I wish I could change. This woman had worn many veils and I ignored every prompting to see through them. It was something I vowed to never do again.

    Love your post Melody – as always.

  12. Yes, this!

    Melody, you have a gift. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  13. Thank you Melody! I needed to read this today. I’ve been trying to figure out how to live my “truest life”. That means reassessing a lot of beliefs I’ve grown up with. Sometimes this has led to pain, and sometimes bitterness. I am also afraid that people will not understand and love me as much as I express my newly simplified version of what I believe. Recently, I opened up to my husband about my feelings and concerns. I was terrified. It ended up being one of the most beautiful moments of connection and acceptance I have ever felt.

    I think fear veils me from reaching out and sharing and loving. It’s so good to remember we each have something that veils us- it gives me courage to reach out and initiate a connection- rather than hoping someone will initiate a connection with me.

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