Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sacred Experience

Grandpa Great's Obituary in the Paper.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

I had a sacred experience last week I want to share with you. I know Jesus says to not cast pearls before swine, or give that which is holy to dogs (Matthew 7:6), but I have to believe my words will reach the pure of heart and not just idle passersby. The internet is a big place, and surely some will read this and think I'm foolish for giving so much importance to this simple experience. No matter. Those who see with spiritual eyes will understand.

Exactly one week ago on March 25, I made fire for my uncle's sweat lodge on the Spokane Reservation. My uncle always tells me the ceremony actually begins from the moment we set our intention to visit the lodge. He says the Creator and the spirits take notice when we announce our intention and they make arrangements to meet us and send blessings. "Be mindful," he often says, "Whether you're building the fire, or carrying water, or bringing the rocks; you might get a message in those quiet moments. You might find an answer to prayer."

So I was at the lodge by myself chopping wood and hearing the beautiful sound of birds returning for the springtime season. All the while, I made prayers in my heart.

My uncle keeps a bin filled with old newspapers to help start the fire. I grabbed a handful to place beneath the kindling; I tore the sheets in half, crumpled them into a loose ball, and then placed them at the base of the fire pit. Just then, something caught my eye on one of the newsprint pages; I saw Grandpa Great's face looking back at me. It was only a picture on the printed page, from his obituary appearing in an old edition of the Spokesman Review (he died on October 5, 2005), and yet seeing that picture nearly stopped my heart. Suddenly I felt his presence all around me, as though he were standing with me and holding me in his embrace.

Grandpa Great was such a great example of the LDS faith, and when I left the church, I know it must have hurt his heart. Even still, he always treated me with such genuine love and respect. He never gave the slightest hint of criticism or judgment. In my turn, I loved that man as though he were my own flesh and blood grandfather.

As I stood in that most sacred place, building the fire for our prayers, I felt his spirit all around me. I felt his undying love for me, even though I so often see myself as just the husband of his granddaughter; the "in-law." And yet, by visiting me at my uncle's lodge, I felt like he was telling me the spirit of love transcends all differences of race, ethnicity, religion, social standing, or politics.

His presence washed away all doubt. Standing in the light of his spirit, our differences melt away. In that moment, we stood as one in the presence of the One Greater Than All.

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