Mother of Pearl
I know, I know what you’re thinking. Meg. We get it. There is tumult in your religion. Could you please stop posting about that and get back to sex posts? And I’m like, YES! Right after this one.
(But for reals. There is a sex post coming next week. And it’s about toys? Too much? Too little? Any recommendations?)
But until then….this.
I was talking to one of my dearest friends today and she shared this beautiful anecdote with me. Her sister was serving an LDS mission when one of the 12 apostles came to speak in her area. (For those of you who are not LDS, the 12 apostles make up some of our leadership in the church. They aren’t perfect or always right or surrounded by halos of light. But they are men of God and we consider some of what they say to be inspired and some of what they say to be simple wisdom and some of what they say opinion. I sustain them in their roles and do not feel upset that they as men are fallible as well as inspired. That describes me, too. Guess what? I am also of God. So are you. Okay, moving on.) So this apostle came to the mission and told a story,
There was a man and woman that were given a beautiful pearl. It was the finest pearl the earth had ever seen. Shaped by forces beyond the couple and lit with the light of the stars. The pearl was the greatest gift ever given to mortality. The man and woman treasured the pearl. They wanted to keep it safe and give it a home. So they built a box. The box was lovely, painstakingly prepared and formed. But it was, in the end, a work of mortality. It was imperfect. Really, very nearly crude compared to the pearl it held. The box was necessary, but it wasn’t anything beyond it’s utility. Brothers and Sisters, do not miss the beauty of the pearl because of the necessary imperfections of the box.
In this lovely story from a good man, I find great relief. The pearl is the gospel, the love of Christ and the Lord, the absolute divine truth about who you are, who you will be and how you will get there. The box is the church. Well meant, often well serving, but still filled – brimming!- with the imperfections of mortality. It is simply a necessary, often crudely wielded, tool in a very divine work.
I don’t know about you, but in the last few months I have come to realize how limited this mortal experience truly is – in time, understanding, scope and perception. I appreciate the box. The church is the place where we find the keys of the kingdom, send our babies to primary, serve one another and take the blessed, blessed sacrament. It is a lovely, imperfect box. I am happy to operate within it, improve it, shine it up till it looks pretty, work to make it stronger and more tolerant and less afraid and more hungry for the meat than thirsty for the milk.
But the bulk of my time will be spent with the pearl. I will strive to practice the divine art of Charity and the power of Faith. I will seek spiritual gifts and rest my heart in the hands of the Holy Spirit. I will glory in the shine of the pearl I can almost hold in my hand. I will search out understanding of my divine heritage and accept the gift, the driving force of personal revelation. I will seek Christ first. I will allow Him to anoint me and shield me with His ever expansive Atonement.
And I will be humbled and confused and uplifted and secured over and over and over again.
Yes, occasionally the hinges on the box will creak. It will need to be oiled and repaired. There will be scuff marks and dings and the effects of careless stewards. And sometimes the damn thing will leave splinters in my hand. But I will persevere. Because I know what is inside that box.
And it is more than enough for all of us.
(This is not a message exclusive to the LDS religion, I just happen to be writing to that audience right now. Rather, I think this concept applies to all truth the Lord sends us. Every truth is a perfect thing imperfectly packaged by circumstance or man. It is a concept we all must grapple with time and time again.)