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Project Conversion

I cannot shake what happened to me last Monday night. What’s strange is that, looking back, the experience–those simple words, “Good. Now keep going…only harder,” were a seed. I feel the tendrils of the roots from this event spreading through my mind. It’s as if those words are churning the soil of my self, my thoughts, my perspectives, and the fog of my vantage point is slowly parting.

The Elders of my local LDS branch were a little taken by my experience. It took some time for them to formulate a response and interpretation. They did however, respond in the way I expected them to.

There is a fraction of truth in all religions,” the more experienced one said, “because all religions come from the same source. The Holy Ghost is available in part to all who seek, but only through the restored church of Jesus Christ and the laying on of hands can one fully receive the whole truth and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I respect his opinion, in fact, I told him that I agreed with him. He winced in that way of pleasant surprise. I asked him,

“Is God infinite?”

Elder: “Yes.”

Andrew: “Look at your Book of Mormon. What does it have in common with every other book?”

Elder: “Truth?”

Andrew: “A front and back cover. In other words, it has a beginning and an end…unlike an infinite divinity. If the divine is infinite, then there are corresponding infinite paths to reach it. Your church is truth because an infinite divinity can absorb anything with limits, including our religions.”

At this point, I could tell I had crossed the line. I was now in the seat of a dissenter. My purpose is to learn and assimilate, not teach. I ended the discussion and out of deference to my Mentors, asked forgiveness and for them to continue with the planned lesson.

Even though my episode last Monday night grows with each passing moment, and even though it appears to divert somewhat from this month’s path, I cannot help but feel an empathetic bond with LDS founder and first prophet, Joseph Smith. How often was he ridiculed for his belief in that vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? The guy was only 14 years old and in the spiritual struggle of his life. On that fateful spring day, Joseph Smith entered those woods and fell to his knees not merely out of an act of faith, but in a state of exhaustion. Like me, he was beyond the point of expectation or fear.

 

Joseph Smith simply came and offered himself to the universe. As we’ve seen and will continue to witness, every religious founder comes to this point. They don’t invent a new religion, they transform into willing vessels of revolution.

And after he heard that voice, there was no turning back. After you experience something like that…you glow, and not even death can snuff out the brilliance which shines forth. There is a peace and warmth and stillness blooming inside me, right now, that I can barely articulate. I tried to share this with the Elders. I begged them,

I know it’s hard to understand. I can barely grasp it myself. But please don’t stop teaching me. Because Jesus instructs us to be perfect like our father in heaven is perfect. And if our father in heaven is perfect in his infinity, then that means I’m called to be infinite. Teach me all of your truth, that I might expand my infinity.

Being the good sports they are, they agreed.

Was this my road to Damascus, my time under the bodhi tree, my burning bush?

I don’t know what this will grow into, but I do know this: I will let it unfurl within the warmth of my chest and though I may suffer pain, allow it to burst through the skin of my limitations and creep wherever fertile ground will host its roots. “Good. Now keep going…only harder.” Good, I’ve acknowledged that I cannot do this alone. Now that I’ve surrendered to a greater power, a greater purpose, a magnified strength, I can go faster and harder and further than ever before.

What does this mean, and where will this road lead me? As one of my favorite Pixar characters, Buzz Lightyear says, “To infinity…and beyond.”

"Infinity Series #13" by Geoffrey Chandler

How about you? Can you handle infinity? Walk with me, if you dare…

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