Ever wish you could erase a mistake and start anew? I make mistakes all the time. Even after my baptism at eight years old, when I promised always to choose the right, I found I still made mistakes. Like when I lied.
Yes, I know. Rare raw-force exceptions aside, in general, nothing can make you do anything without your consent. So the spider didn’t make me lie. I lied and blamed the spider. You see, my blood freezes when I see spiders. I talked to my mom about it when I was a teenager, and she said that it was probably because I always saw her screaming and running from the room whenever she saw one. Hmmm, tempting—Blame the parent. Regardless of why my blood freezes, it was indeed why I decided only to pick ten strawberries and call the job done. My family assignment that day when I was nine years old was to pick a couple of pints of berries. Not hard, since we lived on a 23-acre farm in Missouri, where anything grows and grows big in the fertile Missouri mud, and where, right between the barn and the row of peach trees, we had a large strawberry patch of about an acre. Not hard at all, since there were strawberries all summer long, year after year.
I had picked ten berries when I saw the spider. As usual, I froze. Why is it I can’t take my eyes off a spider whenever I see one? After about twenty minutes of spider-watching-Dave and Dave-watching-spider, neither of us trusting the other much, I re-entered the farmhouse, gave my mom the ten berries, and that’s when it happened. I lied. I explained that I couldn’t find any more berries. That seemed to work…until Dad got home. By then, it was storming outside, thick Missouri rain, and Dad clearly anticipated berries with whatever we had for dinner. I didn’t see him home until he returned to the house, soaked to the skin, with about three pints of berries in his hands. Oh, and he was screaming. “No strawberries? Does this look to you like no strawberries?” (Translation: “You idiot! Why couldn’t you find these in the sun, and why did I have to find them in the rain???”) I burst into tears, told him about the big spider, how it scared the heck out of me, and I just couldn’t go any further into the patch. What if I had found more spiders?!? I must really have sounded terrified, which I was, both of Dad and of the spider on his strawberry throne, because Dad stopped what he was doing, and gave me a big hug. He was probably thinking, “You’re nine, and you’re still scared of spiders?”, but he hugged me all the same. Maybe it was because I was sobbing so hard. Or maybe it was the raw fear with which I was eyeing the three pints of berries.
I did eventually stop sobbing and grow up. When I was twelve and on one of my first overnight campouts, my brother stuck a garter snake in my face, and I said how cute it looked and asked to hold it. Since it failed to scare me, my brother was so mad that he refused to let me have the snake. I had to find my own slithering friend.
But this isn’t a post about berries or spiders or snakes. It’s not specifically about lying. It’s about making mistakes in general. And the clean-up in the aftermath.
Since the idea of “Forever Clean” was a bust, due to our propensity for serial sinning, we needed a way to accommodate the “Forever Cleansing” thing described in my previous post. God knew that, and He knows us, so He provided the means to erase the board every week, even when we make mistakes. He gave us the Holy Sacrament (communion, eucharist). By celestial design, the intent of the bread and wine (or for Mormons, the bread and water) is much more than mere symbols of the body and blood of Christ. It reminds us of our promises we made at baptism, to live His ways and always to remember Him. By celestial design, the intent goes way beyond the once-a-week symbols, helping us remember to follow Him in our heart and mind throughout each day wherever we happen to be and not limited to our thoughts in a holy place just on Sundays.
The Sacrament covers cleaning maintenance even when we make mistakes over and over. It’s not just for something I do just once and then decide not to do again, such lying or stealing. If I set myself on a new path of obedience, I can use it each week to stay clean from any kind of sin. I can use it if I get angry with a co-worker, overeat, or become lazy about service to others around me and not serving a friend as I should. Just as did my dad’s hug when I lied, the Sacrament helps me feel good about putting my mistakes behind me. I set aside the world. I enter instead a world bathed in light.
The Holy Sacrament helps me repent and cleanse the past. It helps me to stay clean.
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1. Watch, listen, or read Elder L. Tom Perry’s address discussing how partaking of the sacrament provides us with a sacred moment in a holy place, entitled, “As Now We Take the Sacrament”. (Length: 16:45.)
2. Watch, listen, or read the address of Elder Dallin H. Oaks on how the ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church, entitled, “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament”. (Length: 16:17.)
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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
- Photo, “Big Spider In Garden”—www. donrelyea.com/blog/tag/spider/sermonview.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=5321
- Photo, “Large Strawberry Patch”—amandasteenphoto.com/2012/07/27/strawberry-fields-forever/
- Photo, “Cleaning Maintenance”—www.cleanmyfacility.com/carpet-hard-surface-floor-cleaning-commercial.html
- Photo, “Erasing The Slate; Starting Again With A Clean Slate”—lifeatthirtysomething.com/2014/01/a-new-year-a-clean-slate-operation-lose-the-baby-weight-find-my-brain-etc-begins-now/
- Photo, “Making Ablution With Friends”, photo by: Masood Bhat/Kashmir Headlines—kashmirheadlines.in/kashheadlines/11222013-ND-getting-ready-for-prayersa-group-of-people-making-ablution-to-perform-prayers-in-historic-jamia-masjid-srinagar-photo-by-masood-bhat-kashmir-headlines-3452.aspx
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Reasons to make ablution, to make wudu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wudu):
- To prepare for prayer
- To wash away sins
- To obey Allah’s orders
- To follow the Sunnah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunnah)
(Source of list of reasons:
Described with beauty and grace at http://ahsanjaved.tumblr.com/)
Providing a sacred moment in a holy place: