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Life was never meant to be a time of endless wool gathering, (as one might say in say, the 16th century), was it? But apparently it was meant to be a time of much gathering. What comes to mind when you hear the word “gather”? Gathering with family and friends? Meeting with your faith group or attending a community event? Or maybe something broader, like the gathering of Israel? Or something historic, like Jesus gathering with His followers?
Maybe, as it often is for me, it’s remembering that poignant, poetic line from our Savior: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stones them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” He would have gathered them (and all of us), if given the smallest (free agency driven) chance. The Savior is all about feelings of peace, protection, and j’oie de vivre that can come from gathering.
Gathering often creates a wonderful circle of something: think of a soft ruffle on the hem of a toddler’s skirt, a circle of elephants united in empathy, “circling the wagons”, the Lord describing His work as “one eternal round” (Alma 7:20), and being “encircled about eternally in the arms of His love (2 Nephi 1:15)
No wonder President Nelson has asked us to gather those from both sides of the veil. No wonder we are asked to gather in the temple, the house of the Lord. No wonder we are counseled to create that home made circle of love we call Family Home Evening. In these places the “gathering feeling” can be strong.
Being knee deep in genuine peaceful love and acceptance, surrounded by those who know and love you best is sublime. It’s worth all the efforts.
When gathering material we lay down loose stitching on a flat piece of fabric. Then we gently pull one end of the threads until all the fabric all ruffles together. It’s exciting to see the transformation. Once gathered, the material becomes more “alive”, more interesting, more fun.
What is the thread that gathers us all together in the gospel? It’s the Spirit, or the gift of the Holy Ghost, of course. Emotionally and spiritually this thread pulls us all in a little closer.
Why is the gift of the Holy Ghost so powerful? It “quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being”. (Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. , p. 101)
We are wont to gather to feel these things. As one of my favorite authors Brene Brown has said: “As humans we are hard wired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives and without it there is suffering.” The Holy Ghost can impart these feelings (described above) that can weave a ribbon of giggly happiness through our gatherings.
But what if people don’t know about the Holy Ghost, or are not interested in utilizing it’s power? In our drive to unite we may seek for other, more precarious “threads” to try to connect us.
“Spirits” is an old fashioned word that was often used to describe alcohol.
The use of “Spirits” is an attempt to re-create feelings that come from the true spirit of God. Some bars have historically been called “Speakeasys”. But the true spirit of God makes it easier to speak, minus the danger and addiction that can accompany “Spirits”. It’s the most honest of threads that can honestly connect us. It’s the real gatherer: no side effects, no hangovers, no regrets. It’s peace, without the bottle and the price tag. It’s freedom. It’s joy.
We may all sense that we are taking some sort of mortal test here on earth. This is because we are all taking some sort of mortal test here on earth. Test stress is real, but so is the spirit of God that can be with us as we gather together to recharge.
May we ever gather, as we prepare for the most glorious gathering of all ahead: reuniting with God and our family in heaven, in that circle of love that will never end….