Personal Online Journal

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Dancing Tree

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook:
"In a heated debate.... no one will listen to reason and no one will change their opinion. When people are angry, they will not change there state of mind. .... and it is useless to have a debate.... because no one will listen. ._. Just live life the way you do, but also learn to respect others opinions/ reason."

It is really amazing when you disagree strongly with a friend and yet can still remain calm and respectful with each other.

A couple of weeks ago, my work colleagues gathered from their remote locations to look forward to possibilities for the coming year.  We went to eat pizza as a group. Religion came up in our discussion. There were not many positive expressions of religion or Mormonism.  I noticed one friend sitting with his arms folded like he was uncomfortable with the discussion.  I hadn't said much or anything at all.  I ended up talking with a good friend like we always do. He expressed why he had become atheist. I expressed the good I had found in my LDS faith. After a while the uncomfortable friend opened up and was amazed that we could have a discussion without shouting or getting mean.

It really is amazing when people can try to see things through the eyes of others. For me, it has been eye opening and sometimes a cathartic experience to see the world through new eyes. My father in law one said that he wanted to see things as they really are. That is one of my goals in my interactions with my friends of differing views. I have come to respect differing views. That they give new insights to reality and relationships and our common goal of living healthy and happy lives.

My experience at dinner with my workmates reminded me of a lecture between an evangelical Christian and a Mormon. They got further by trying to speak to each other rather than past each other. We can have strong convictions and still be civil with each other. We can respect others with strongly differing views if we can establish that each of us are acting in good faith.

Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of Joseph Smith Jr had a dream about 1803 that contrasted how her husband and his brother Jesse reacted to new ideas. They were both represented as magnificent trees.  One responded with life to the wind and breeze around him.  The other was stiff and did not move.
I saw one of them was surrounded with a bright belt that shone like burnished gold, but far more brilliantly. Presently, a gentle breeze passed by, and the tree encircled with this golden zone bent gracefully before the wind and waved its beautiful branches in the light air. As the wind increased, this tree assumed the most lively and animated appearance and seemed to express in its motions the utmost joy and happiness. If it had been an intelligent creature, it could not have conveyed by the power of language the idea of joy and gratitude so perfectly as it did; and even the stream that rolled beneath it shared, apparently, every sensation felt by the tree, for, as the branches danced over the stream, it would swell gently, then recede again with a motion as soft as the breathing of an infant, but as lively as the dancing of a sunbeam. (The Eyewitness History of the Church, W. Jeffrey Marsh,  p 268)  
Lucy's husband was the flexible one. He was willing to consider new ideas. He was filled with life and intelligence. I want to be like that. Willing to consider any good and true principle and practice.

I am grateful for the goodness and truth that I have found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I hold many of its teachings dear to my heart. I also appreciate the goodness and truth I have found elsewhere. Much of this has come from being willing to hear my friends of differing views. To try to understand their experiences. And to seek out that which will lead to great health and contentment in my life and my loved ones.

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