We had our second Light in the Wilderness discussion last week. It was great, but sadly I didn't take many notes because the discussion itself was so enthralling. And I think many of us left with more questions than answers, with maybe a few ah-ha moments as well.
We are discussing chapter 2 of Light in the Wilderness by M. Catherine Thomas. For those who desire to follow along (and add comments!) the schedule can be found at the "Read Along with Us" tab. We made a revision and will only be studying one chapter a month so as to really dig deeper into the principles and ideas that are shared in this book.
Whatever Is, Is Right
We started the discussion last week with this question: "How much do we insist on an ideal reality that cannot be realized in this world? (p.18)." Often times we kick against the realities of our lives, hoping and wishing we could change things (or other people) to meet our perception of what is right. Through our mortal experiences, often times referred to as trials, we try to figure out how we can change what is happening. As said in our discussion group, we try to have ore control than we actually do. And I think that desire for control actually makes whatever we're going through harder.
Alexander Pope has said, "Whatever is, is right." So, we need to discover, then, what IS? What is the reality? This question became an ah-ha moment for one of our ladies when she was like, "So, the fact that my child has this issue is not my burden to carry nor is it some fault of mine (i.e. choosing to homeschool or whatnot)." Knowing and understanding that what is, is right helps us to let go more and to try to control less. It actually becomes quite liberating as we place more at the Lord's feet rather than blaming ourselves or keeping that possibility of change weighing on our shoulders.
A More Intimate Paradise
On page 17 we read that entering the terrestial world, going through that separation from God, allowed Adam and Eve the opportunity to make or discover an even more intimate paradise. One friend related this to staying at a Hawaiian resort. Yeah, you love it and think it's the most fabulous place you could ever go! But "we always love coming home, our own four walls." Home is a place where we work together not only physically but also to build an environment where we want to be and can become better. I loved that analogy because it makes this world seem so much less barren, more essential and a place to enjoy. I've often said I don't want to get to the other side, look back at my time in this life and say, "Man! I wish I'd enjoyed that more." We need to come to love this experience, the good and the bad, as we do our own homes.
One way M. Catherine Thomas mentions as essential to gaining this perspective is through gratitude. She says that gratitude amidst trials "opens us to the interior light that always provides something in return for loss....As we express our thanks to Him and to each other we create a peaceful, enlightened, and spiritual atmosphere (p.32)." Maybe this is easier said than done. But I remember a friend going through a difficult time. I said to her, "I'm so sorry you're going through this." She looked at me and asked, "Why? I'm not." She had that eternal perspective that she needed this experience to become more like and closer to her Savior. What a lesson!
One Final Message
"He's always doing something with us, and He always knows what He's doing." This life is our opportunity to create that "more intimate paradise" with our Savior. It can happen as we focus more on His light and love.