Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lessons Learned from a Tree

This morning as I was reading a copy of the Church News this article really jumped out at me.  I found the speakers insights very note worthy and so here I am sharing them with you.  The name of the article is: 

"Stand in The Sacred Grove." 
Church Historian shares
lessons from holy place 

Nearly  200 years after Joseph Smith's fist Vision occurred in the Sacred Grove in 1820 in upstate New York, individuals can still look to the patterns and structures of that holy place as a teacher of important life lessons...After serving as mission president of the New York Rochester Mission--whose boundaries include the Sacred Grove--from 1993-1995, Elder Jensen spoke of the holiness he felt as he visited the area.
"My family and I came to love that grove of trees and to feel the sacredness."...
"A careful observer of nature...can learn some significant lessons from the ecosystem that exists there."
Lesson 1:  Trees always grow toward the light. 
One interesting phenomenon observed in the Sacred Grove is the trees growing on the edge of the original forest 
and those lining the interior pathways,
"They have grown outward--
to escape the over shadowing foliage above them--
and then upward to absorb the greatest possible sunlight.  
Their crooked trunks and branches stand in contrast to neighboring 
trees that grow almost perfectly straight."
Trees, like almost all living organisms, need light to survive and thrive.
"Light is an even more important catalyst in the spiritual realm
 than it is in nature. 
This is so, because light is essential to our spiritual growth 
and the realizations of our full potential as God's sons and daughters.
Please, shun darkness, and like the trees, 
always seek to grow towards the light."
Lesson 2:  Trees require opposition to fulfill the measure of their creation 
Elder Jensen spoke of an experiment conducted a few years ago in a designated area of the Sacred Grove.
To provide the healthiest young trees a prime place to grow, gardeners cleaned out the area and took away opposition that could prevent the trees from growing.  Their hope was that the trees would flourish and develop, as they grew without competition for water, sunlight and soil nutrients.
"As a result, none of the trees in the test plot compared in size or vitality to the trees left to grow more naturally and that had to compete and overcome opposition in order to survive and to thrive."
One of the key doctrines of the Book of Mormon is that there must be opposition in all things.
Elder Jensen taught, "A world with opposites provides choices between good and evil, so that agency can operate.  Equally important, however, is the principle that opposition must exist for spiritual growth to occur--or as father Lehi puts it--for 'holiness' to be brought to pass.
I want to stress that understanding this principle--that spiritual growth requires opposition and adversity--and even embracing this principle at your age is a key to accepting and being generally happy with life."
Lesson 3:  Trees are best grown in forests, not in isolation    
"If  you think about it, in nature it's very unusual to see a tree standing alone.  
They almost always congregate in groves, 
and over time, groves may become forests."
The Sacred Grove, Elder Jensen taught, is much more
 than just a group of trees.
It is a complicated ecosystem that includes numerous 
species of flora and fauna
 that rely on one another for food 
and shelter in the cycle of life.
"God's plan for our lives contemplates a similar interconnectedness and sociality for us.
We are here to work out our salvation together not in isolation.
The Church builds meetinghouses, not hermitages.  
We are asked to attend a specific ward or branch--not to pick and choose our congregation...
This wise policy requires us to learn to get along with each other 
and to be accountable to our Bishop or Branch President; 
not to run and hide when the going gets tough...
Healthy trees need an ecosystem; healthy people need each other...
I we hope to enjoy the sociality of the world to come, 
we need continually to mature socially 
as well as spiritually while here on earth.  
People like trees, are best grown in communities, not in isolation."   
Lesson 4:  Trees draw strength from the nutrients created by previous generations of trees  
Just as a grove of trees flourishes when benefiting from the nutrients of fallen trees, leaves and limbs, so can the lives of Church members benefit from the rich legacy left by those who have gone before them.
"Why do record keeping and the collection, preservation and sharing of history enjoy 
such importance in the Church of Jesus Christ?
Why is it critical for you as part of today's rising generations' 
be mindful of  and draw strength from past generations?
In response, the Church Historian said that it is impossible to live fully in the present--much less to plan for ones future destiny--
without the foundation of the past.
"The knowledge we have of our past 
because of the records that have been kept,
 and of our future because of the scriptures and the prophetic teachings of living prophets, 
provide us the context that allows wise use of our agency 
during our present existence.
History in its most basic form is a record of people and their lives and from those lives come stories and lessons that can reinforce what we believe, what we stand for, and what we should do in the face of adversity.  Not all of the stories that make up our history are of the epic nature of Joseph Smith's First Vision or of Wilford Woodruff's mission to England. 
In fact, some truly remarkable stories come from the lives of 
very ordinary Latter-Day Saints.
They are especially dear and helpful to us 
when the stories involves our own ancestors..."
"Good stories--if true--
make good history.  
Remember, people, like trees, 
draw strength from the nutrients 
created by previous generations.
As individuals
 "stand in the Sacred Grove" 
they are able to stay strong
 against oppositions 
and find encouragement 
from the generations 
                                                                    of faithful Latter-day Saints 
                                                         who have steadfastly stood before them.
These glorious truths, of which I have testified 
have their beginning in the Sacred Grove.
As you have figuratively stood with me in the Sacred Grove, 
so stand always in your minds and in your hearts in that sacred place
 and live true to the truths that God began to reveal there."
(Church News Week of May 13, 2012)

As I read that article I picked up quite a few pearls that I am going to try and acquire.  Unlike the trees, I tend to be one who isolates and tries to hide.  I am great one on one but when it comes to reaching out to a "congregation"  I fail miserably.  I can see I have lots of good things I need to start working on.
And I for one will never look at a tree in the same light.

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