Ah! Turn Me Not Away

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Stephanie Lauritzen, an OW action participant, being turned away from Priesthood Session. Photo taken by Josh Johnsen.

On Sunday morning I flipped through picture after picture of women being turned away from the doors of our worship places. The Mormon Tabernacle choir sung in the background. Tears streamed down my face; many of those women are my friends. All are my sisters.

Ah! Turn me not away, Receive me tho unworthy. Hear Thou my cry, Behold, Lord, my distress.

I have performed this song countless times but the cry remains with me always. Hear Thou my cry.

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Young Women Lesson: How Can I Develop Christlike Love?

As I was reading through October’s lessons, I was very excited about the focus on Christ and love. The lessons on the Come Follow Me website are very good. In this lesson, I tried to get away from the cerebral aspects of “we need to love everyone” and go into the “how” to love everyone.

Washing of Feet

Lesson Prep/Intro

The week before the lesson, I think it would be good to ask the students to spend time thinking of their favorite story of Jesus. You could ask some of the older girls who studied New Testament last year in seminary to share a story they learned about that was important to them to share with the younger girls, or you could ask everyone to spend some time reading in the Gospels this week in their personal study. Then when you start class, you could ask each to share the story they picked and write it on the board in a list.

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Seeing Through The Veil

“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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Priestess

A shrine priestess and her little sister

When I was a kid I took cello lessons. These lessons were offered in the local RLDS (now Community of Christ) chapel. I remember seeing pictures on the wall of women participating in blessings and feeling uncomfortable. There was also a smug sense of superiority– I knew better than to think that women could offer blessings.

Sometimes I wish I could have a nice long conversation with 12 year old me. I would tell her all sorts of things. One of the things I would tell her is that feeling superior to others is very rarely a good thing. Another thing I would tell her is to watch Inuyasha. No really.

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Symbols of Heavenly Mother

Symbols of Heavenly Mother

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked in a comment to elaborate on my remark that labyrinths are a symbol of Heavenly Mother and share other symbols of Her. I think it is important to remember that symbols means as much as you want them to mean. For example, the sacramental bread and water can be simply bread and water, but it can mean more than that depending on the person’s mindset. I would even say a person could even have a wonderful personal relationship with Christ without using the bread and water symbolism at all. The importance of symbolism to a person probably depends on their own spiritual languages.

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