As I've begun this year trying to see more divinely, I've found that it has very little to do with my eyes and a lot to do with my heart. In fact, with my whole soul. I don't know why there isn't a name to describe what it means to feel something with your whole soul. I know I'm not the only one who's felt it. There should be a name for it.
Yesterday, as I sat in the chapel and the meeting began, I remembered to see. I paused a moment and had an inward conversation with God and asked Him to help me see these people around me the way He sees them. I opened my heart. And He began to open my soul. Just a tiny bit. And I was flooded. Intense and overwhelming love doesn't begin to describe what I felt in that tiny peek. It was so intense that I shut my heart. I had instantly started to cry and knew this was just a taste. I wasn't ready for the display I might cause if I kept my heart open and allowed Him to continue pouring.
God, being who He is, respected that. He found another way to teach me. To give me a bit of what I was yearning for but I was ready to handle. As the meeting progressed I was filled with the love the people in the room have for each other.
I am Mormon. We don't search until we find a congregation that fits us. Our church is divided into wards (congregations) based on boundaries. Areas are divided up and we are assigned to a ward. This means we go to church with our neighbors. As I've written before, my neighborhood is amazing! I wish I could explain it in a way that you could understand. Someone who has moved away read that post and remarked that she missed our neighborhood because it was as close to Mayberry as she'd known. That's a pretty good comparison.
The thing is, we are a family. Like any family there are some people who don't always get along. There are a few black sheep. But mostly, we love and take care of each other.
And yesterday I felt that love in a way I never have before. Instead of just feeling love for them, I felt everyone's love for each other. All of them. All at the same time.
In the Mormon church, the first Sunday of the month is Fast Sunday. We are encouraged to prayerfully skip two meals in an effort to draw closer to God and donate what those meals would have cost to the ward. This money is then used to help our neighbors as deemed appropriate by our bishop (pastor). And on Fast Sunday we have testimony meeting. Instead of our regular worship service where two or three members of our ward or stake (a group of wards) delivers a talk they have studied and prepared for, the pulpit is open to everyone. It is a time when anyone from the congregation can get up and share their testimony with us. Share what's in their hearts.
There were some beautiful testimonies shared. But more than that, there was so much love. It was the brave woman who talked about her recently broken home and asked for help. She asked that we bear testimony to her children to strengthen them. It was the woman who followed after her saying that if we'd been asked to give food to her family we wouldn't have hesitated; she asked that we not hesitate on this. Several who testified pledged to support her and testify to her children. It was the parents who bore testimony directly to their children so they would know their parents believe. It was the awe mentioned by many as a young man we've all watch grow up passed the sacrament for the first time. The love and pride we felt for him and his parents. It was my dear friend who talked about living far from her family and her husband's family and reminded us that we are her family. It was the dear sweet little six-year old girl who stood and testified that prayer is good and it will help us and make us happy. And so much more.
I cried and cried. The love my neighbors feel for each other is almost always evident. We are a tight group. But this day. This day it was more. It was palpable. It filled the room. My soul was swimming in it. And God said, "It's kind of like that only better."
One day I hope to be able to let Him teach me the whole lesson. For now, I'm grateful for the glimpse.