Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Admonition, Basking, and Pondering

My ability to take in and make spiritual sense of admonition reached a limit on Sunday afternoon, and it taught me an important lesson. It's spawned into this theory.

Like so many of you, I'm sure, I find there's an endless, even "inexhaustible," amount of good things to learn. In addition to my regular study of the gospel, I'm regularly in other meetings and trainings related to my current calling as bishop. To make up for lost time from my traditional personal gospel study time, I've made a habit of listening to general conference talks and BYU speeches when I can at work. While this has been great, I feel like I've over-flooded myself with admonition - I've taken in more than I've had time to ponder about, implement, and habituate.

When stake conference came this past weekend, then, I could take in Saturday's priesthood leadership session from 4:00 - 5:30, and the adult session from 7:00 - 9:00. But most of Sunday's talks fell on my drowning ears. I was able to feel nourished by President Christiansen's talk, but, unfortunately for me, the others I'll have to follow up on when the transcript is produced, because my journal reflects what I was able to receive - very little. (Note, I'm perfectly sure that this was entirely about me, and had nothing to do with the speakers' preparation and delivery - I could tell they were great talks, but I just couldn't drink them in; I was exhausted.)

I was baffled by this. I've never experienced this before in my life, at least not to this degree.

I've thought about it since Sunday night, and I've come up with a rough theory that I'm now testing out. It may be similar to how a plant grows. Plants need water, sun, and air to photosynthesize. I felt like a plant drowning in a flood on Sunday. The water had come up and over the sandbags, and was engulfing me in the flood. I felt about ten feet under. Maybe we can compare admonition to water. It's life-sustaining and very needful, but can be administered faster than a plant's roots can have time to soak it in.

Plants need energy from sunlight. They need time to bask in the light and soak in the warmth. Their leaves need to be spread out in the light to achieve maximum exposure. Thinking of this analogy, I don't know about you, but my mind goes straight to the temple. When I was there this past Thursday that is exactly how I felt. I entered the celestial room and just melted and sighed. I felt like those plants I've seen in time-lapsed photography that just loosen up their leaves, open up, and lean towards the sunlight. It was hard to leave on Thursday night. Worshipful music also comes to mind, and could also be compared to the sunlight in this analogy.

Air! Glorious air. All the admonition and light-basking in the world seem insufficient to grow the soul without time for pondering, because that's when "we invite revelation by the Spirit." (President Eyring's talk) One idea I did catch from stake conference this weekend was the thought that God is more able to answer our questions when we take time to ponder the questions he's already posed to us, such as "What think ye of Christ?", "What desirest thou?", "Knowest thou the condescension of God?", and "Rememberest thou the covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel?". We need time to think about and apply the admonition we receive. I liken this to air - like the kind of air you breathe in when you go for a walk and just think about life and how you're living it. Personally speaking, air is what I was lacking this weekend.

So since then I've been "breathing" more often and it's been a good thing. I found that if you download the scriptures in PDF you can search by punctuation. I'm currently reading everywhere in the standard works where the sentence ends with a question mark (?). It's pretty cool.

Hope this is of some usefulness to you.


  1. "When in situations of stress we wonder if there is any more in us to give, we can be comforted to know that God, who knows our capacity perfectly, placed us here to succeed. No one was foreordained to fail or to be wicked. When we have been weighed and found wanting, let us remember that we were measured before and we were found equal to our tasks; and, therefore, let us continue, but with a more determined discipleship. When we feel overwhelmed, let us recall the assurance that God will not overprogram us; he will not press upon us more than we can bear (D&C 50:40)." (Elder Maxwell, BYU, 10 Oct 1978)

    Thank you for your beacon reminding me that I am still in proper formation with the rest of my generation.