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Friday, January 4, 2013

Meditation, Part 3 - Finding Your Own, Personal Sacred Grove

Putting Things into Perspective So Far

In previous posts, we discussed how:
This is a powerful paradigm, based on timeless truths and exquisite examples that cannot be denied.  As Joseph Smith said,
"It is a great thing to inquire at the hands of God, or to come into His presence." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 22)
If you seek a greater, more intimate and far more constant relationship with the Savior, I encourage you to examine, explore and experiment with these principles.  In some cases, they may bear fruit almost immediately.  However, more likely, it may take time to make these principles solid foundations in your life.

Throughout history, humble, spiritual men and women have taken special care to do such things. They figuratively, and sometimes literally, turned their backs on the world, and for a time, they found themselves alone.  But in reality, they were not alone, for in stepping out of the world, they found themselves a step closer to the presence of God.

This post involves just that next step.

Your next step.

The Pattern of Setting Foot on Holy Ground

Where do you go to leave the world behind, and enter God's presence?

Can you say you've ever, truly, done so?

Enoch did. "I turned and went up on the mount," he said, "and as I stood upon the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory; And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face; and he said unto me: Look, and I will show unto thee the world for the space of many generations" (Moses 7:3-4).

Jacob did.  In Beth-el, he built an altar "and called the place El-beth-el: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother" (Genesis 35:7).

Moses did.  He "was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain..." (Moses 1:1, 42), talked with God "face to face" and "beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created" (Moses 1:2,8).  It was such a special place, the Lord told Moses to "put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).

Elijah did.  "And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:8-9).

Nephi did.  "And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord" (1 Nephi 17).  As a result, the Lord taught him Shipbuilding 101...the opening overtures for a trip across the great waters to the Promised Land.

Enos did.  He "went to hunt beasts in the forests", and ended up communing with God, having his guilt swept away and being considered "blessed".

The Brother of Jared did.  As we read in Ether 3:1, he "went forth" and traveled to "the top" of Mount Shelem, which also had "exceeding height" (Ether 2:1).  He went up believing the Lord would light his rocks, and came away having had a face-to-face audience with the Savior.

Joseph Smith did.  Although he went to the Sacred Grove for answers to his own questions, he came out of it with much more than he expected.

The Savior did.  He "went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12) before he gave his Sermon on the Mount.  At another time, "in the morning, rising up a great while before day, Jesus went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." (Mark 1:35)  Yet again, after Jesus had fed the five thousand, he told the Twelve to dismiss the multitude, while he went to the mountain for solitude.  In fact, "when the evening was come, he was there alone" (Matt. 14:23).

You are no different.  The above experiences are a pattern (D&C 52:14) for anyone expecting to dialogue with Deity.  The pattern is subtle and simple, yet just as viable and real as it was in the early 19th Century and many millennia, every dispensation, before.

To step beyond your current "spiritual" horizon, you must change your present position to a higher one.  The higher you go, the farther your horizon will be. 

In each instance, as these humble seekers of God went to that "higher" place of peace and seclusion, of stillness and serenity, they found God...and in most cases, their discovery was accompanied by far greater manifestations than they had ever anticipated. 

Your Own, Personal Sacred Grove

"Joseph Smith taught after his own encounters firsthand that all could come unto Christ in this way and eventually receive and give what Jesus called a "fulness." (D&C 93:19)  With the advantage of recency and of trustworthy witnesses who shared and duplicated his experience, he stood for the opposite of what many supposed was the role of a prophet.  Instead of 'take my word for it,' his life and teachings say, 'Find your own sacred grove and come to your own individual and independent awareness.'" (Truman G. Madsen, "Why I Believe"; emphasis mine).
Perhaps it is this fact that motivated Pres. Monson to call such a place what it should be rightfully considered: your "own 'Sacred Grove'":
"The boy prophet Joseph Smith sought heavenly help by entering a grove which then became sacred.  Do we need similar strength?  Does each need to seek his or her own "Sacred Grove”?  A place where communication between God and man can go forth unimpeded, uninterrupted, and undisturbed is such a grove." (Pres. Thomas S. Monson, Choose You This Day, Ensign, November 2004, p.67; emphasis mine)
You don't need to travel far distances -- for example, to the tops of exceedingly high mountains, forests, groves, or even a Temple -- to effectively commune with, if not have an audience with, the Lord (a fact we will discuss in greater depth soon).
"As you feel the need to confide in the Lord or to improve the quality of your visits with him -- to pray, if you please.  Go where you can be alone, go where you can think, go where you can kneel, go where you can speak out loud to him.  The bedroom, the bathroom, or the closet will do."  (Bishop H. Burke Peterson, October 1973 General Conference)  
As you set aside a certain location for such meditation and communing, the locale may adopt its own sacred nature in your life:
"One of the things most needed in our prayer lives is consistency and regularity.  Some people find it helpful to pray often in the same place.  One man I know set aside a special place in his home, a place which over the years came to be like unto a personal sacred grove.  It seemed when he entered that room that he felt a hallowed presence.  In fact, that is exactly what had happened over the years; because some of the most profound insights and some of the sweetest feelings and impressions had come to him in that room, it had come to represent almost a holy of holies within his home, which was his temple." (Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series, p. 436-437; emphasis mine).
This is perhaps one of the greatest legacies Brother Joseph left us: the challenge for you to validate his own experience in the Sacred Grove.
"Critics of the Church have made a lot of fuss about the fact that we have so few contemporary accounts of the First Vision.  But that rather makes the point.  Joseph was talking more about what we could do than what he had done. We have a dozen revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants that invite us to see God.  Joseph invited us to check him by having our own Sacred Grove experience.  The validity of an experiment is if it can be repeated.  A good seed not only bears good fruits but it always bears the same fruits -- regardless of who plants it.  Thus, Joseph Smith taught that the seed of faith will always bring its train of attendants, including revelations, visions, dreams, etc., and that all who plant and nurture the seed are entitled to the harvest." (H. Dean Garrett, ed., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: Illinois, p. 207; emphasis mine).

Now it's Your Turn

President Marion G. Romney counseled:
"Learning the gospel from the written not enough.  It must also be lived.  One cannot fully learn the gospel without living it" (Ensign, Sept. 1980, p. 4; emphasis mine). 
As we learn a principle, we must make a real effort to apply and live it in our lives.

On that note, here is my question for you (again):

Where do you (or will you) go to meditate, commune with -- and perhaps someday, even have an audience with -- the Lord in your "own Sacred Grove"?


  1. Thanks so much for all these wonderful posts on Meditation. Such a wonderful reminder that the Lord is much more mindful of us than we realize and closer to us than we can truly comprehend.

    Meditation help us more fully realize that we worship a LIVING God who makes himself accessible to even "the least of these".

    Isaiah sums it up so well for us as recorded by Nephi in the Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 21:14-16
    14 But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not.

    15 For can a awoman forget her sucking child, that she should not have bcompassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may cforget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.

    16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. 1 Nephi 21:14-16
    Many have born witness that the Savior to this day, He still bears those scars. He will never forget nor forsake us!

  2. I so appreciate these posts, and have started reading the earlier ones that I missed. I am looking forward to the Perfect day and I appreciate all those who work hard to guide me there. I have really been thinking about this "meditation place." I am going to find a spot in my house that can become a truly Holy Place. I have meditated in lots of places, but I love the idea of a special place in the home. I know that the Lord plans to bring all of my children and grandchildren to my home as things change in the world and I have been a bit nervous about this, because there are lots of them, and many are inactive at this time. I have asked the Lord to help me to prepare for these times and He has been so gracious to help me with this. These blogs are some that I cherish. I know that making a special "Holy Place" in my home will be so helpful in this too. Thank you so much.