Monday, April 4, 2011

Corrective Lenses

While studying the other day, I chanced across the following scripture in the Book of Mormon: "But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, ... and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known." (Mosiah 8:17, bold added for clarification)

I have always assumed that "them" in the scripture refers to "seer," and that is probably correct. Grammatically, however, "them" more logically refers to "things which are past" and "things which are to come." Now that set me to musing. Given the seer's role in correctly interpreting the past and future, I don't think my musings are entirely inappropriate. That said, with all due apologies to seers living and dead, I'm not going to chat much about them today. Instead, I have been thinking in more basic and personal terms about the importance of viewing the present through the corrective lenses of the past and the future.

A talk in the LDS General Conference this past weekend reminded me of the story of Aron Ralston. The movie 127 Hours, released last fall, brought Ralston's story to prominence again, seven years after the hiker saved himself by amputating his own arm while solo hiking in a remote canyon in Utah. I knew the general story but had not heard Ralston's account of a vision that he credits with giving him the motivation to proceed with his nearly impossible task. Dying of starvation and thirst, his arm pinned under an 800 pound boulder for five days, Ralston carved his epitaph into the rock, filmed his last words to his family and waited to die. Delirious with the ordeal by this point, he describes the scene:

"I was at peace with the idea of me dying. But then I saw this vision of this little boy and it shifted me, it gave me hope to get out because this is my future son, I could see me interacting with him without my hand at some point many years down the road and I realised if I’m going to have that son then I have to get out of here, I WILL get out of here, it got me through that last night..." (quoted from an interview in 2010)

Aron Ralston's vision of things which are to come changed his view of his present circumstances, pushed him beyond his own natural capabilities. We may never have to saw away at our own arms to save our lives, but we do have opportunities in life to endure daunting trials, or even to relinquish an arm of sin, if you will. Our vision of the future, be it an eternity with loved ones or a more immediate promise of desired blessings, can give us the perspective shift we need to press forward.

Likewise, a thoughtful examination of the past (in contrast with an obsessive dwelling on remembered offenses or triumphs) can also unearth hidden pearls of wisdom applicable to present trials or conundrums. Some time ago, I received what felt like an inspiration or a premonition. It was an odd premonition, and my first inclination led me to discount it. But the feeling persisted, forcing my closer examination. I remembered other instances of inspiration and began to recognize a pattern in how the Lord communicates with me. Those patterns of the past teach me how to respond when the Lord presents me with puzzle pieces, and they guide my hand as I work to find the picture in the pieces.

True to lessons learned in high school English and popular culture, I subscribe to the philosophy of carpe diem.We do need to focus on today and live our present as wisely and as richly as possible. At the same time, our past and our future make that possible, strengthening our hand as we strive to seize the moment for all its glory.

1 comment:

  1. I needed that. Thank you. I have been trying to go into "No!" mode but am still failing. I need to sieze the moment, or in my case, the right moment.