Wasn't it great how George Lucas began his Star Wars Trilogy with Episodes 4-6?
He just threw us into the middle of an ongoing family saga with no backstory and no idea how it was all going to end.
Just like life, right?
In 2019 I began Owl of the Desert to share with you the Exodus Trilogy, a series of poems that I believe reflect the current climate of modern religion and of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in particular.
Well, I've finished. I accomplished what I set out to do. In those poems I recorded my innermost spiritual yearnings. I published them because that is what the Spirit asked of me.
I can say with Mormon (who said it best):
And I [did] this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me.
And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.
And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren, that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ; that they may once again be a delightsome people.
(Words of Mormon 1:7-8)
As mentioned in Part 6 of "Would God That All the Lord's People Were Prophets," I was writing primarily for the Lord and his angels (who can always use a good laugh). But I hope they've meant something to you, too.
So what now?
No Mastermind At Work Here
Well, it won't surprise anyone that I am no mastermind; I spend most of my brain cells wondering what's for lunch.
I admit I wake up each day pretty clueless. Then I say my prayers and ask the Lord, "What do we have going on today?"
Most of the time I am like Nephi trying to be "led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do" (1 Nephi 4:6).
So now that the Exodus Trilogy is done do I clock out? Am I done? Is the Lord satisfied with my work? (In my defense, He knew my ability ― or lack thereof ― when I started.)
You get what you pay for.
Build an Ark (or Barge, Whatever)
In Sunday School last week, a friend made a comment I could relate to:
"In the scriptures," he said, "the Lord's instructions to his prophets seem so clear. Do this. Go there. Build an ark. But it's not as easy figuring out what he wants me to do in the moment."
It made me reflect on why it is that faith often thrives in an environment of uncertainty; why faith flourishes in the dark as we grasp our way forward without the aid of sight or knowledge.
Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
Something I've learned from Moroni's writings is faith needs an anchor. But what does Moroni mean when he says faith and hope "maketh an anchor" to our souls?
Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men.
Is Moroni using the right analogy here? I thought faith was supposed to move us along the path, but don't anchors keep us fixed in the same place?
How are Faith and Hope in Christ "Anchors" to our Souls?
Q. Which direction do anchors go?
A. Anchors always sink when we throw them overboard. It's sort of the point. An anchor that floats is no help.
If we're in a pirate ship and the captain tells us to deploy the anchor, gravity is going to pull the anchor down to the bottom of the seabed, keeping the ship anchored while the winds and waves toss it to and fro.
Q. Do you see yourself on the deck of the ship or at the bottom of the sea floor with the anchor?
A. Good point. Forget the ship for a minute. Let's presume we're all at the bottom of the seabed of God's kingdoms, in the telestial world. We'll call this murky, seaweed-infested dark place "hell." Our jailor, Satan, is keeping good watch over us, sleeping with the fishes.
Q. How is Christ like an "anchor?"
A.Here's the important thing to remember: an anchor is NO GOOD unless it is attached to a rope or chain. Like an anchor, Christ condescended (sunk) so we might ascend, but it only worked because he was connected to the Father.
Q. How does an anchor help us?
A. Do we climb up the rope? The rope is "straight," after all, because it is held taut between Christ and the Father. The straight and narrow way is vertical not horizontal.
I love Moroni's analogy of the anchor because of how it flavors these words spoken by Christ:
And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father.
(3 Nephi 27:14)
Presidential Fitness Award
The point I want to make is our climb up the Covenant Path (sorry, I couldn't resist) is not like we're in high school P.E. class climbing a rope.
If you saw my biceps, you'd see I have no upper body strength. If I had to climb the anchor chain to Christ, as though Christ were on deck waiting for me, it would be hopeless.
But it's not hopeless because all we have to do is "hold on" to the anchor (which represents our faith in Christ) and the Father "draws" us up.
See that? We don't climb by our own strength.
All the strength we have is for wrapping our arms around Him. The Father hoists us up out of this abyss by His strength.
So what does this have to do with Owl of the Desert?
Stations of the Cross
An anchor is shaped like a cross, isn't it?
Anticipating the completion of the Exodus Trilogy, I assumed I would have some Shore Leave saved up.
Last week that changed.
It looks like shore leave is postponed.
I'd like to announce the next chapter of Owl of the Desert:
I know that tradition lists more than seven stations along the Via Dolorosa. But there's something nice and complete and perfect about the No. 7.
I've left more unsaid than I've said, and so I have organized my next project, chronicling our walk with God on our premortal to post-mortal journey, around the symbolically significant stations of the cross that Christ walked on his way to Golgotha.
As the prototype of the Saved Man, we might consider our own walk towards death and attaining unto the resurrection dead.