Monday, May 31, 2010

Keeping a Sense of the Privately Sacred

Luke 2:19 is one of the most simple yet profound verses in all of our standard works - and it relates directly to how you can have a wonderful life in the Church. We live in an information rich, share-all society that values open communication above almost all else. As a society at large, we are losing (or have lost) a sense of the privately sacred.

Luke 2:19 says:

“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

Obviously, we don’t need to be silent and not share many of our spiritual experiences, but there is much power and a deep connection that can be had in following Mary’s example of “keeping” her most sacred experiences and knowledge and interaction with deity and “pondering them in her heart”.

My mother’s approach to life worked so beautifully for her largely because she “kept [many of] (her sacred and personal) things, and pondered them in her heart.” It made her a deeply spiritual woman, just as I’m sure it did for Mary. Most of my own most intense and profound insights have come as I sat alone or listening in a group setting - sitting quietly, thinking deeply and pondering things in my heart.

Truly, sometimes we simply need to "be still, and know that (He is) God". I believe the latter flows directly from the former more often than we realize - and that we move away from him when we fail to keep a sense of the privately sacred.


Jared said...


As you know, I have shared sacred experiences in the ‘nacle for nearly three years.

A few days back (May 15) you wrote the following in a comment to me:

I subscribe to the Elder Packer theory of not sharing my powerful spiritual experiences much, so I don’t write about them much here.

I respect your decision. I think it is important counsel. But like most counsel that comes to us from the scriptures and the church leaders; there are two sides. For example, contrast “thou shalt not kill” 3 Nephi 12:21 with; “Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed” Alma 43:47.

The counsel from the scriptures and church leaders regarding sharing of sacred experiences is the same—there are two sides. For example, Elder Packer said:

“When you receive these special spiritual experiences, they are not to be chattered about. They are private, and they are personal. You will come to know with a very personal conviction that the Lord knew you were coming that way.” Ensign Aug 2006, p. 51

Then there is this counsel from Elder Dallin Oaks:

“Although we are generally counseled not to speak of sacred things like the miracles we have witnessed, there are times when the Spirit prompts us to share these experiences, sometimes even in a setting where our account will be published. The miracles written in the scriptures were obviously intended to be shared, usually to strengthen the faith of those who already believed. Modern servants of the Lord have also felt impressed to describe miraculous events to strengthen the faith of believers. Many of these have been published. I have chosen to share some of these here.” Ensign Jun 2001, p. 6.

I can provide you with many quotes where we’re counseled both ways.

In my opinion, it is unfair to only view one side of the gospel equation. It leads to “incomplete doctrine” and wrest (twist or distort) the scriptures.

My sole purpose in sharing sacred experiences is to increase faith in the faithful and to stand up to those who argue that promptings and spiritual experiences are so subtle they can’t be trusted.

My conversion experience testifies boldly that the least among us can find mercy through the Savior’s atonement--when we hunger and thirst for a remission of our sins.

One day, I will stand before the Lord, as we all will, and give an accounting for what I’ve been given. I can’t hide my experiences and expect to be found clean and acceptable before the Lord.

Papa D said...

I don't disagree with you, Jared - as witnessed by the second paragraph in this post, as well as the "sometimes" in the last paragraph.

I've never said we should never share our personal experiences - not in this post or any other. I'm simply saying here that there is a power in "keeping (some) things and pondering them in (our) heart(s)" - and the modern world is losing that understanding in an age of instant communication and constant pressure to pontificate.

Fwiw, I don't write much about my most powerful spiritual experiences at Mormon Matters (the "here" in my comment) for one primary reason. I know they will be dismissed and/or mocked by a number of commenters there, and I don't want that - not there. I do share some of them elsewhere, when I feel impressed to do so, where they will serve to uplift and edify.

You are reading too much into this post - and reading it as much more extreme and universal than it was written.

Anonymous said...

I have read some of your stuff on MM Ray,and I agree that it would not be the forum for your most sacred experience,as much as I enjoy it as s forum.However,I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you have shared here,and what it has fed into in our family life.Sometimes your pearls are not cast before swine.Do keep sharing what you feel appropriate.

Jared said...


Thanks for you response.