Sunday, May 01, 2011

1 Nephi 8

The tree of life.

I’ve read the tree of life narrative many times. The first time I read the Book of Mormon, I remember being impressed that this was something of substance, weight, not fluff. And this was in a read-through where I was like, “Well, this book is written from an interesting religious point of view. Hmm.”

A couple lessons stand out this time.

The first thing is that the fruit is experiential.

Ultimately, I believe – and hopefully you believe – because we tasted. Your dedication to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ doesn’t come because of carefully honed, convincing argument. Such argument perhaps establishes a climate for belief, but it is personal experience that leads to belief. Blake Ostler has a wonderful piece on this, entitled “Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment,” on YouTube or html.

The second thing is that this is real.

When it says that “there arose an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they which had commenced on the path did lose their way,” I think of Suguna or Madhavi.

When it says that “after that they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed…and they fell away into forbidden paths,” I think of Suni or Jay Tony family.

This should help me love them more, judge (in the bad way) them less, and rekindle my desire to help them back on the path. Does it? I don’t know.

And when I read “they did point the finger of scorn at me, and those that were partaking of the fruit also, but we heeded them not,” I think of myself, or the person I hope to be and continue becoming.

My sophomore year, I was living in a dorm, coming to church and the elders were visiting me. One time, walking down the hall to the door and letting them in, I wondered what everyone else would think. I wondered if I should keep meeting them in my dorm. And then I remembered those words, about what happened to the people who were ashamed. I remember the thought dawning on me, and smiling to see the application of the words I had read.

Oh those beautiful words: “but we heeded them not.”

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