Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trailing Clouds of Glory

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:  
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,   
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,  
And not in utter nakedness,  
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:  
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
-William Wordsworth
I have always wanted to post more about my longing for my true home. I love anything that intimates at the fact that there is more. I used to love transformers when I was a kid and I often joke with myself saying that the real reason I loved them so much was the fact that the transformers' theme was "more than meets the eye."

There is so much more than meets the eye. And there is so much that we just don't remember in the day to day.

There are some amazing quotes that attempt to describe the feeling of "something more."

Here are some of my favorites:

C.S. Lewis' attempt:
A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, then; is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same. (Mere Christianity from the chapter entitled "Hope")

Neal A. Maxwell's attempt:
Some of us have been momentarily wrenched by the sound of a train whistle spilling into the night air, and we have been inexplicably subdued by the mix of feelings that this evokes. Or perhaps we have been beckoned by a lighted cottage across a snow-covered meadow at dusk. Or we have heard the warm and drawing laughter of children at a nearby playground. Or we have been tugged at by the strains of congregational singing from a nearby church. Or we have encountered a particular fragrance which has awakened memories deep within us of things which once were. In such moments, we have felt a deep yearning, as if we were temporarily outside of something to which we actually belonged and of which we so much wanted again to be a part. 
There are spiritual equivalents of these moments. Such seem to occur most often when time touches eternity. In these moments we feel a longing closeness--but we are still separate. The partition which produces this paradox is something we call the veil--a partition the presence of which requires our patience. We define the veil as the border between mortality and eternity; it is also a film of forgetting which covers the memories of earlier experiences. This forgetfulness will be lifted one day, and on that day we will see forever--rather than "through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12). 
There are poignant and frequent reminders of the veil, adding to our sense of being close but still outside. In our deepest prayers, when the agency of man encounters the omniscience of God, we sometimes sense, if only momentarily, how very provincial our petitions are; we perceive that there are more good answers than we have good questions; and we realize that we have been taught more than we can tell, for the language used is not that which the tongue can transmit.
Truman G. Madsen's attempt:
No amount of mortal abuse can quench the divine spark. If you only knew who you are and what you did and how you earned the privileges of mortality, and not just mortality but of this time, this place, this dispensation, and the associates that have been meant to cross and intertwine with your lives; if you knew now the vision you had then of what this trial, this probation of mortality could produce, would produce; if you knew the latent infinite power that is locked up and hidden for your own good now - if you knew these things you would never again yield to any of the putdowns that are a dime a dozen in our culture today.
My Attempt:
I just want to share some of my more personal examples of that closeness that I have experienced:

  • Music - Harmonizing: hitting a complex chord with a group of singers that just resonates within your soul. Hearing the Muslim call to prayer sung across an entire city. The amazing sound that comes from a symphony or even a single cello. 

  • Aha Moments - when learning, there are times when you experience an amazing connection. Joseph Smith described this when he spoke of certain revelations saying it was like having "pure intelligence flow into you."

  • Conversations with forever friends - sometimes God allows us to glimpse eternity through another person. Whether it be something they say that strikes a deep chord of truth within you or just being in their presence and connecting with what C.S. Lewis calls the "central self," there are moments when you are with another person and you just know that you knew each other for longer than just your lifetime. 

  • Macro Nature - riding your bike through a misty mountain trail or skiing in fresh powder and hearing the "whoosh! whoosh!" as you fly down the slope, seeing a mammoth wave, catching a glimpse of a huge lightning storm, listening to and watching an avalanche or a volcanic eruption; stopping on the side of the freeway in the middle of a desert and turning off the lights and looking up to see the Hale Bopp Comet's tail reach halfway across the sky; sitting and wondering about the majesty and incomprehensible enormity of the universe. Climbing to the top of Mt. Sinai or Mt. Timpanogos to watch the sunrise.

  • Micro Nature - discovering a rotifer for the first time under a microscope; learning about cells, molecules and atoms and forces at work inside of my own body. Realizing how amazing it is that my body has the ability to fix itself and witnessing it first hand after shattering my collar bone. Opening up an orange and looking at how absolutely perfect each packet/capsule of orange juice is. Pondering the miracle of photosynthesis.
  • Creativity - When a song just pops into my head or a set of lyrics that seemed to have come "out of nowhere" into my mind; winging it in almost anything; freestyle looping alone in my room on a looping device and wondering at the end "where did that come from?"

  • Babies - staring into their eyes and just looking at them in your arms or letting them sleep on your chest in complete trust. A warm little bundle of heaven with perfect miniature lips, fingernails, earlobes and toes.
  • Death - though it is often painful to see the mortal existence of a loved one come to an end; it has always caused me to look beyond to what else is out there. I love what Neal Maxwell says about death - that it is not a period, nor is it an exclamation point, but only a mere comma. 
  • Pursuit of learning and truth - this is related to the above aha moment, but I wanted to mention the pursuit of learning and truth because I have had some amazing experiences in many of my college courses where I am encounter truths that ring of eternity. In chemistry, biology, physics, anatomy, philosophy, cognition and psychology and in nearly all my classes, there are nuggets of truth that are highlighted that have taken me to a higher plane where I know there is something more. I love this quote from Einstein that expresses his pursuit of what he does not yet know: “The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man." 
Einstein playing the violin

So many other things that I have experienced in addition to the ones above just blow my mind and cause me to wonder where I am from and what I really am doing here. When talking about this, there will always be more to say because there are things we just don't know how to express with words. That longing for something more will always exist inside of me and I believe that it exists inside of everyone. I believe it is a part of what I like to call our spiritual DNA.

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