Driving home from work, I had some thoughts I wanted to record while remaining hands-free (safety first).
So I told Siri to email me, and I dictated a message to myself.
When I returned home and opened my inbox, the email was titled "European Salmon." What?
Siri had mistranslated . . . Urim and Thummim.
The words Urim (Hebrew: אוּרִים "lights") and Thummim (Hebrew: תֻּמִּים possibly "perfections") were applied by Joseph Smith to the earth in its exalted state (D&C 130:9).
Would it surprise anyone that the planetary spirit body we affectionately call Earth follows a descent/ascent cycle like we do?
How is the earth's eternal progress connected to ours?
The Greeks called the earth-spirit Gaia (Γαῖα), meaning "land" or "earth." She was a personified deity who was the mother of all life.
And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth.
Here we learn a "living soul" requires two things: (1) elemental-earth-matter (dust from the ground); and (2) the breath of life. What is that?
And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.
Ask yourself: how can our body (dust) be redeemed unless the earth to which that dust belongs is also redeemed?
Does this mean our redemption is contingent upon the redemption of the earth as well, in and through the atonement of Christ?
And the redemption of the soul is through him [Christ] that quickeneth all things, [including the earth] in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it [ah, so it is related!].
The only sermon I've ever needed on earth-stewardship and caring for the environment in a godly manner is this doctrine: our fates are bound together; we are of the earth; we are "one."
For after it [the earth] hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, [just like God's spirit children, the earth receives its own crown] even with the presence of God the Father [why does the earth require exaltation?].
Read on for the answer to that question and a new twist on our eternal relationship with the earth:
That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom [where does the "elemental" matter for those celestial bodies come from?] may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made [we're seeing a whole new "plan of salvation" here, aren't we?] and created, and for this intent are they [us] sanctified.
So I think it is safe to say the way we treat the earth and how we manage our stewardship of her bounty matters a great deal.
The Good Earth
In Greek mythology, Gaia came from Chaos, who was the first thing to exist ― "the gaping void."
And the earth was without form, and void.
I want to suggest the descent/ascent cycle is symbolically represented in the Creation account.
Look closely at the how a Day is ordered (it is very Jewish):
And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Which comes first? Night.
The Day-cycle commences by descent into darkness (evening) and completes (closes the circle) through ascent (morning).
There are six creative periods in the Creation account, followed by a heavenly Sabbath.
Is it possible each of these "Days" represent an aspect of our descent and ascent up the ladder, as we progress from one estate to another?
The Earth descended (or "fell") with Adam, her Steward (Moses 3:15). In partnership, they died spiritually; and one day the earth will die physically as well:
Yea, notwithstanding it [the earth] shall die, it shall be quickened again.
The good news is we are eternally-blessed to have an Earth that is righteous:
The earth abideth the law of the celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law―
Wherefore, it shall be sanctified [ascend].
Well, that's good news!
There are some interesting parallels between our doctrine of Zion and the earth's destiny.
In the great Covenantal Vision we read in Moses 7, between Enoch and the the Lord, we read the words spoken by the Earth consciously.
Prior to receiving its baptism of water (and again before it receives its baptism of fire at the Second Coming), the earth is polluted and defiled: "the power of Satan was upon all the face of the earth" (Moses 7:24).
Notice the temple-symbolism of the following image:
[A great chain] veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness.
The wickedness of humanity causes great sickness in the earth; she internalizes our pain and weeps with us.
And Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, [notice where the vocal chords of the earth are hidden, in her "bowels"] saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; [how does she identify? As a mother; our mother!] I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. [I hope the significance of this is not lost on any of us] When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? [where does filthiness originate?] When will my Creator sanctify me?
Perhaps we read these words like a poem, as a beautiful personification of an inanimate celestial body.
But not Enoch. He took the earth's words quite literally.
And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, [have we? have we wept for her?] and cried unto the Lord, [have we? have we prayed for her?] saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth?
A Word About Zion
Our relationship with the earth is directly related to the deliverance of Zion. How are the faithful delivered? Or I should ask: Who protects the children of Zion?
And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course.
Sure, we credit the word of God for this miraculous power; but have we considered the power of Enoch's love for the earth, and her responding in kind?
The New Jerusalem will be a "land" of peace; a "place" of safety. As it was in the beginning, so it shall be again when the land masses of the earth shall be restored and united again (we call it Pangaea).
And the islands shall become one land; And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided.
The land masses moving, the earthquakes they cause, are the contractions of a mother giving birth ― in this case, the earth giving birth to Zion.
And an highway shall be cast up [this is like a birth canal] in the midst of the great deep.
From the bowels of the earth, the Lord shall "bring forth rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim" (D&C 133:30).
So if any of us desire to be part of "Zion," a good place to start is to make friends with the earth. How else will the deserts blossom?
Beatitudes in a New Light
With that background, let's dive into the Lord's promise to His children: they shall "inherit the earth."
What does that mean?
Once our eyes are opened to Christ's abasement doctrine, the Beatitudes become even more special.
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit (descent): for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (ascent).
2. Blessed are they that mourn (descent): for they shall be comforted (ascent through the 1st and Second Comforters).
3. Blessed are the meek (descent): for they shall inherit the earth (isn't this interesting to find an inheritance, specifically, of "the earth" on our ascent?).
4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness (descent): for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost (what if this described reclaiming your Holy Ghost, i.e., sanctified spirit, on your ascent? Was this what Joseph Smith was alluding to when he said, "The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever" (D&C 121:46); could this be describing an eternal bond ("inseparably connected") in which our spiritual bodies always return to us? "Inseparable" not because we can't be parted during descent, but because we shall always be reunited?)
5. Blessed are the merciful (descent): for they shall receive mercy (there's always a reciprocity, or law of restoration, at the turning of the wheel; the hinge is mercy).
6. Blessed are the pure in heart (descent is where we are stripped of impurity, working out our salvation with fear and trembling): for they shall see God (I want to suggest that there are multiple layers of meaning in this; when we receive the countenance of Christ and look in the mirror, who do we see? God).
7. Blessed are the peacemakers (remember how Christ promised "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you" -- the work of God is to imbue the Creation with peace; to descend among the contentious, chaotic spirits of lower-estates): for they shall be called the Children of God (now we ascend to the adoption of sons and daughters into the Father's Family of the "El"s).
(Now we're going to come full-circle: remember where we started in #1? "Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN").
8. Blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name's sake (we now descend bearing the name of God, which we received in No. 7): for theirs is the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
So we started and ended . . . in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thus we see, the Beatitudes are a treatise on abasement.