Just over a year ago, my cousin Brian passed away, unexpectedly, at a young age. Four days ago my dear uncle Jim, Brian’s father, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Such losses can be crushing for a family without the perspective that comes through God’s plan of happiness for us.
Uncle Jim and his wife Diane married over 50 years ago in the temple of the Lord. In that sacred edifice, they made and have kept special covenants with God which will allow their marriage vows to stay binding after this life. These special covenants and ordinances in the Lord’s house not only bind husband and wife together eternally, but also bind children to their parents in an everlasting family unit.
The beautiful doctrine of eternal families is more than hopeful rhetoric. God has blessed me with strong convictions that the priesthood power to “seal” families together, in the holy temples of the Lord, is real. I know that with all of my heart and have received much comfort and hope from this spiritual truth. Such eternal family bonds are available to all who desire and prepare for these great blessings.
When an image is taken with a digital camera, data is sent to the memory card. This data must be interpreted, or processed, to show us the image that the data represents. One interpretation of the data is done by the camera itself as a version of the image is shown on the LCD screen. But there are many ways to interpret the data, beyond what the camera itself produces. Each digital image can be processed further or differently by various software programs. This is called post-processing since it occurs after the image is captured.
At the time of capture, the image shown was not inspiring. The initial interpretation of this image lacked color saturation and visibility of some of the interesting detail in the sandstone rock. But with the magic of post-processing techniques, the image from the Lower Antelope Canyon comes alive and is bold and beautiful.
Our time on earth is also a time of post-processing for the spirit within us. God sent us here with inherent beauty, talents and capacities. Initially, we may not appreciate some of the hidden gems within our souls. But God has placed us on earth where we can be post-processed to bring out the very best that is within each of us. This spiritual post-processing takes time and the experiences of life that make it possible are sometimes painful. But the final version of each of us can be bold and beautiful, beyond what we can even comprehend. May we stay close to the Lord and trust Him, the master post-processor, to help make us glorious.
Each of us is born into this world with unique interests and abilities. This diversity makes our communities and the relationships within them very interesting. Life would be uninteresting, even boring, if we all thought, desired and acted the same. Earlier tonight, I was at the famous Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona and it brought me joy to photograph and then process an image of this magnificent monument. At the same time I was shooting this image, my younger brother, Darin, was finishing a 50 mile run just a few miles from Horseshoe Bend. Although he is a veteran triathlon competitor, this was his first ultra-marathon and completing the run was a source of joy for him. We both found joy in our journeys today but in much different ways. What brings joy to your life? What do you admire about how others find joy in their own journeys?
All things denote there is a God. Indeed God’s symbolisms and lessons are all around us as we make our daily walk.
Normally in a snapshot, the shutter of a camera is open for a brief time, perhaps 1/125th of a second. This relatively “fast” shutter freezes the action over a brief segment of time. But the image in this post was taken with a slower than normal shutter speed… 4 seconds. Captured at 1/125th of a second, the surface of the water would have shown irregularities and a degree of roughness. But when the surface of the water is captured over 4 seconds, the irregularities of the water’s surface melt into a smooth, glassy reflection which is peaceful to the eye.
Through this imagery, God teaches us about our own imperfections. At any given moment, a snapshot of our lives reveals irregularities and rough edges. This can be discouraging and lead us to judge others and ourselves too harshly. It is only through God’s grace, and what may appear to be a long time, that our lives can be refined and perfected in a way that is recognizable to our mortal minds. May we be patient with ourselves and with others throughout this earthly journey.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a life-long commission to serve others and help them grow closer to the Lord, Jesus Christ. This mandate is woven into our daily patterns of life. In addition, some may have the privilege to serve a full-time mission as circumstances permit.
Michelle and I are very grateful for our calling, from modern-day prophets, to serve an 18 month, full-time mission for the Lord in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission (Spanish-speaking). We thank the Lord, family members and friends for their support as we begin this blessed phase of life. We have been asked to share a message, as we depart on our mission, by speaking in our sacrament meeting at 1 p.m. on Sunday January 22nd at 7401 Smoke Ranch Road in Las Vegas. All are invited to attend.