I debated whether to title today’s post The Tunnel of Truth, The Cave of Enlightenment, or Was Eve Deceived?
You’ll shortly see why all these titles were worthy of consideration, but since truth is my aim–and I have an affinity for alliteration–The Tunnel of Truth won the day.
Last night, I told the Sunday School President that I could no longer teach the temple and family history class. He was shocked. I offered to tell the Bishop if that was the proper route. I gave no explanation other than I felt the attendees deserved someone who believed and was passionate about the topic.
I’m not going to tell the Bishop, as I’m confident he will come calling. Plus, I’m not ready to tell him how I feel. I want more time to explore my feelings before making an official declaration. The thought, however, of “coming out of the apostasy closet,” is a relief. Personally, I prefer to call the process wherein you start to doubt your faith culture “enlightenment,” but then again, I just may be the one who is “under the influence of the adversary,” or the one who is “being deceived by the devil.”
No doubt these are the “last days,” wherein the “very elect shall be led astray.” Look, I’m no stranger to scripture. I know the prophecies well–don’t think it hasn’t caused me serious contemplation and reservation. How to proceed has not been something I have considered lightly. Even now, I shudder to think, “what if I’m wrong?” BUT then I consider the consequences of being wrong, and the processes I have followed to ensure that I’m not, and I think of my loving Heavenly Father . . . . and since I know that He knows my heart and that He has promised to judge me by it, I am at peace.
A seeker, I am. To know the truth, I must. You see, I prefer to believe in a God who loves all of his children–a Father who does not favor a certain race or certain sex. I worship a God who doesn’t need me to worship Him in some specific, prescribed way. He wants me to worship Him my way. Can it truly be worship any other way? Now, that’s a post for another day. But for now, allow me to tell you my dream, for I went to bed with the request that my Father please teach me and let me not be led astray.
My Dream Scene:
I’m walking into a dark tunnel or cave with Jane. Of course, the character with me is Jane because she is the one who first started asking me hard questions. Questions about our church and our doctrine that I couldn’t adequately answer. “Mom, why do boys have all the power in our church?” “Mom, why can’t girl’s pass the sacrament?” Mom, why can’t girls have the priesthood?” “Mom, why can a man have more than one wife? “Mom, Mom, Mom?” These questions hit me hard! The only one I could relate to was the one about polygamy. Other than that, none of her questions was anything I had ever before considered. I figured if my 10-year-old daughter was this perplexed as to why God loved his little boys more than his little girls, I was going to get her some decent answers. And so I searched. And searched. And found nothing to satisfy the searching soul.
But in my seeking, I did find other tidbits of truth. I discovered Buddhism, The Tao, meditation, Zen Masters, Self-Compassion, Mythology, Joseph Campbell, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Adyashanti, Physics, Hinduism, Astrology, Numerology, Dreams, Spirits, Psychics, Mysticism, Stoicism and so much more. I found a world of truth beyond the small set of scriptures I’ve been diligently studying every single day for 30-60 minutes without fail. At first, I was mad that I had spent so many years reading the same passages out of the same books with such narrow-minded focus. I thought of all the years I had wasted not studying all these other incredible subjects. But I can never stay mad. It’s always such a fleeting feeling for I much prefer happiness. And so I’ve been voraciously reading and consuming ever since–everything I can get my hands on in an attempt to make up for lost time.
I’m learning so much and soaking in truth from every source. I am not yet ready to declare my beliefs–I actually feel that such declarations are unnecessary. My beliefs will hopefully always be changing (see my post on the fluidity of beliefs here), but I do know that right now I don’t believe our church to be the only true church. I actually don’t even believe in organized religion. I am not, however, against it.
I think it is just fine for the world to have different religions and institutions dedicated to helping others and providing a community for like-minded people to organize and serve one another. Organized religions are vehicles designed to help people return to God, but let’s not pretend that one type of vehicle is better than another, or that an individual needs to be in an organized religion in order to travel the road back to God. The direction is key, and all that really matters is love. If we love God and our fellow man we are good to go.
And so into the tunnel or cave Jane and I go. I say to Jane, “How far in you go is how far out you will have to come.” It’s an assurance from my Father in Heaven that even if this tunnel of truth or cave of enlightenment I am entering is wrong, the worst-case scenario is that I will simply have to turn around and come back out the way I came. With that being so, isn’t the exploration worth it? Into the tunnel would you not go?
I’m going! For I know exactly what He’s telling me and I love Him for it. It helps put my perplexing conundrum into perspective. Nothing is truly ever irreparable (see yesterday’s post here).
Inside the tunnel/cave, I come across a brown paper bag. Inside the bag is a crisp, red apple. As I pull it out, temple language and scripture course through my mind. “Thou must eat of the fruit of the tree,” “Thou shall have knowledge” “Thine eyes shall be opened and you shall be as the gods, knowing good and evil.” I know exactly what this means. Was Eve Deceived? or was she enlightened? Christian dogma on this particular point of doctrine has changed over time as women have gained more rights. What once was seen as a sin of Eve, is now heralded as an enlightened choice. What some may see as my choice to partake of the “forbidden fruit” as a sin, may shortly be heralded as a courageous choice to gain additional enlightenment. Breaking free from prescribed beliefs is a huge leap of faith. Some may already be crying “Blasphemy, Janelle, blasphemy! A gentle breeze inside the cave confirms to my heart, “the ignorance is theirs, not mine” for I feel that God is telling me in my dream that my choice to partake of the fruit is one of enlightenment (not deceit) and will lead me, like my mother Eve, to greater knowledge, truth, and sight.
Jane is now sitting on the floor by our front door trying on tennis shoes. They are too small. We will order another pair as we need to find a shoe that fits just right. One that’s not too tight.
Anyone familiar with the beginning of my dream will understand why the character here is once again Jane. And anyone familiar with dream interpretation knows the universal meaning of shoes, feet, and soles. Feet represent the direction we are moving in life, our ability to act, and move. Shoes have soles and are therefore symbolic representations of our souls. Trying on different shoes is definitely what I’m doing right now and the whole tunnel/cave, apple, and the search for the right fit for my soul all make total sense. Especially as I consider the last thoughts that float across my mind as I awaken:
The end justifies the means
the line is played backward as well
the means justify the end
and everything has finally come full circle. If entering the tunnel of truth or cave of enlightenment is the wrong thing to do in my search for truth, I will find out rather quickly that there just ain’t nothing in there worth pursuing. At that time, I will simply need to turn around and come back out. And since truth is my ultimate “end” goal, and my heart is in the right place, then whatever “means” I end up employing to gain it will be well worth it. Would you not be willing to lose your soul in order to find it? Did not Jesus say, “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it?”
In the end, truth is like Rome. . . all roads lead to it.
The end justifies the means and the means justifies the end.
Beautifully simple and simply Beautiful! Thank God for my dreams!