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Author note: I just ran across an article I wrote in April 2009 that seems to have relevancy to the present, so I would like to share it with current Meridian readers.
I woke with high hopes for some sunshine, but by noon it was snowing. Big fluffy snowflakes continued to fall until they bent my bright yellow daffodils almost to the ground. I hadn’t paid much attention to them until then and regretted that fact.
Whenever snow bends our bright moments it has a tendency to wake us up a bit. The unexpected, the ironic, the contradictory can motivate us to look more carefully at the way we are spending the moments of our lives.
Snow On the Daffodils of Our Lives
I spent a great deal of time just before the flowers bloomed giving comfort to my father-in-law who was dying—and to family members who were saying good-bye to him. Those days were filled with expressions of love, strengthened relationships, and renewed determination to live better. A walk through the shadow of death often motivates a thorough re-evaluation of life.
The cold reality that time in this life is limited, encouraged me to look at my tendency to hurry around and get everything done except really living. Author Elizabeth J. Andrew said, “the spiritual life itself has been marginalized, even oppressed. So many demands run roughshod over the soul’s needs that we often forget those needs exist. The activities that most nourish the spirit (play, affection, generosity, contemplation, quiet, beauty, creativity, truth-telling, time in nature) are least valued in a consumer society.” 1
I couldn’t help but yearn, as I sat by my father-in-law’s bedside in his final hours, to be more alive while I AM alive! Why is it so easy to push aside the activities that make me feel alive, I mused—such as looking up through the pink cherry blossoms at the blue sky? Why did I visit the gorgeous canyons that always rejuvenate my spirits only twice last year? Why did I forgo the bright colors of autumn on the Alpine Loop last fall when it is one of my favorite things in the world to see? Why is it hard sometimes to put aside my to-do list and just play with my grandchildren? Why do I resist taking time to play the piano, water color, write something new and creative? I made up my mind to do better.
I also recognized my need to focus more on the Savior and all He has done for us. Spring offers me such motivation to do this. Strangely enough, something as simple as the snow on the daffodils brought me the greatest feeling of closeness to Him I’ve had for awhile.
Jesus, the Supreme Exemplar
Any time I watch snow falling on blossoming trees and bright flowers I ponder the glaring inconsistency; it seems a contradiction of spring. A dictionary definition of “contradiction” is: opposition, inconsistency. The untimely snow reminds me of far greater inconsistencies than snowflakes on flowers, far more important contradictions than any we see in nature.
In the Lectures on Faith (5:2) Joseph Smith said, “Jesus was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be. But, notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin.”2
Mike Bement, a Meridian reader from Perkasie, PA, gave me permission to share inspiration he received about this concept. As Mike pondered the above quote, trying to understand what those contradictions were, the following came forcefully to his mind:
Jesus, who loves us with perfect love, suffered the combined results of all hatred, malice, evil intent, bigotry, persecution.
The Great Healer or Great Physician, who brought about the Resurrection for us, suffered the pain and indignity of all disease and illness, physical and mental; murder, torture, starvation, addiction, suicide.
The Great Creator and Prince of Peace suffered the torment of war and violence, fear and death, mangled bodies and lives, families and nations torn asunder, great pollutions, pestilence, environmental disasters, holocausts, floods of refugees seeking safety after being separated from homes and loved one.
He who delights in purity and chastity suffered the disgusting insults of rape, incest, pornography, homosexuality, prostitution, adultery and all other unspeakable perversions.
He who loves children, His little ones, suffered the sorrow and consequences of abortion and crack babies, child abuse of all kinds, divorce, loneliness, neglect.
He who was willing to give all, even His perfect life for us, unworthy creatures, suffered the combined effects of selfishness, greed, avarice, poverty, materialism.
The Great Liberator suffered the effects of slavery, captivity, bondage, false accusation, unjust imprisonment, secret acts of violence and evil in countless dungeons over millennia.
The Master Teacher, He with infinite knowledge and understanding, suffered the effects of ignorance, stupidity, superstition, deceit, lies, fraud, and false traditions.
The Author and Giver of the Law suffered the injustice of broken law, prejudice, abuse of power, mobs, secret combinations, evil conspiracies, all criminal misdeeds & lawlessness.
The Only Perfect One suffered the consequences of all error, miscalculation, failure, omissions, misunderstanding, bad choices, inadequacy, improper judgment, humiliation, and rejection.
He suffered all this and more so that we might have hope in and through Him–that we might know He can reach us wherever we are and heal us if we will but believe, repent, and obey.
Mike concluded by saying, “It feels good knowing that whatever problems we may have, the Savior can reach us no matter where we are, no matter how deep the hurt. All we have to do is hold fast to the iron rod.”
Jesus’ understanding of all the inconsistencies and contradictions of our lives comes from His experience. He knows because He has experienced them all. He is always available to comfort and help and succor us in the tough times—when snow covers the beauty of our daffodils, even when unexpected frost seems to kill all the blossoms in our lives.
April snow soon melts; however the snow of our afflictions may seem like
a never-ending winter. I find perspective from the Lord’s answer to Joseph
Smith when he cried out from the cold confines of Liberty Jail: “Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment”
(D&C 121:7). When we look back on the snowy times with the Lord’s
perspective, we will see that the afflictions do last but a small moment compared with all eternity. In the meantime, as we turn
to Him, the Lord will help us make wiser decisions in the use of our time. He
will help us live each day while we are yet alive, holding tight to our faith
in eternal spring.
1 Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir by Elizabeth J. Andrew (Skinner House Books, Boston., MA, 2005, 11)
2 Lectures on Faith, 5:2.