I’m writing this on my laptop in my car on the grounds of the Sacramento Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My husband volunteers to clean the temple every Monday morning (the temple is closed on Monday). I come with him to walk the grounds for exercise and spiritual reflection. Sometimes I read my scriptures. Other times I walk to the farthest edge of the grounds, sit on a bench, and talk to my Heavenly Father. Often, I receive inspiration for articles while walking the grounds. If I’ve had a restless night, I nap in the car.
This morning, I prayed in my car before my walk that I would know what Heavenly Father wants me to write about. As I walked, I tried to truly listen for inspiration from the Holy Ghost. I was surprised at the amount of inspiration I received. In fact, I had so many thoughts running around in my head that I had to cut my walk short, come back to the car and make notes so I won’t forget what I was given. I’ll be spreading this out over my next few articles.
In this article, I’d like to address the process of revelation from the Holy Ghost. I was like a sponge this morning—and that’s not always the case for me. So, what was different? I often pray for inspiration, but sometimes it comes more slowly than at other times. Is there a reason?
On my walk, I was thinking about my hearing aids. Two mornings ago, I had the opportunity to help a sister load the moving truck for her move out of her home. That evening we helped another family unload a moving truck for their move into our ward (congregation) boundaries. I got hot and sweaty, and perspiration kept dripping off my hair and into my ears behind my hearing aids. When this happens, it creates a popping noise that drives me nuts! If sweat happens to get into the microphone on top of the hearing aid, it can actually short out the hearing aid, causing it to not work for several hours until it completely dries out on the inside. I’ve had that happen before. Whether I’m dealing with snap, crackle, pop, or a complete short circuit, I’m distracted and not hearing what I should be hearing.
It’s the same as listening to the Holy Ghost. I try to listen, but sometimes I hear worldly distractions instead of His voice. Sometimes I’m so distracted that I hear nothing at all.
Since the temple is closed on Mondays, the grounds are a flurry of activity. The groundskeepers mow and edge all the grass, and blow leaves and grass off the walkways and pavement in the parking lot. Workers scurry back and forth from the parking lot to the temple carrying refurbished chairs or equipment needed to clean, fix, or repair things in the temple. The pool cleaner vacuums out the water fountain. All this noise could be a distraction for me as I ponder and pray. However, I’ve found that my Monday mornings at the temple are usually the most productive couple of hours in my week. Why? Part of it has to do with the fact that the temple grounds have been dedicated to the Lord. Of course the Spirit is strong there—even with the flurry of Monday cleaning and refurbishing. There’s also something else. I come to the temple grounds prepared in my mind to receive whatever God has to offer me through the Holy Ghost. As I sit here now, the mowers, edgers, leaf blowers, and pool vacuum are not a distraction, but comforting background music for the melody of the birds and the breeze through the trees.
When I leave the temple grounds on Mondays, I want to continue to hear inspiration from the Holy Ghost without the distractions. Sometimes it works that way; sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I let the distractions get in the way of inspiration.
“We know that [Satan’s] agenda seeks to take away our agency through distractions and worldly temptations. … Ironically, it is not only the negative that can cause spiritual eclipse in our lives. Often, admirable or positive endeavors to which we dedicate ourselves can be drawn so close that they blot out gospel light and bring darkness. These dangers or distractions could include education and prosperity, power and influence, ambition, even talents and gifts. … [D]on’t let life’s distractions eclipse heaven’s light” (Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Spiritual Eclipse, Oct. 2017).
At the temple, whether I’m inside or outside, I manage to keep life’s distractions from eclipsing heaven’s light. Once I drive off the grounds dedicated to the Lord, I am on my own to keep the Spirit with me. That’s my responsibility. I have to use faith to keep worldly distractions feeling like comforting background music to God’s beautiful melody.
I saw a lizard on my walk today. Lizards are quite shy and they scurry away when approached. As much as lizards fascinate me, when I see one, I’m reminded that where there are lizards, there are also snakes. In our area, that means rattlesnakes. I thought about how rattlesnakes are like the distractions on my life’s path. They slow me down. They keep me from concentrating on the big picture—my ultimate destination. We all have rattlesnakes to avoid. The trick is to walk on the safe path—the one which leads to the tree of life—without getting distracted by the temptation of wading in the muddy waters. Let the roar of the muddy waters be the background music for the birds chirping a melody in the tree of life.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.