People talk about being "filled with the Spirit" and I think the temple is the only place where I feel that quite so literally. My body fills full--not my tummy, as many times I have finished a session completely famished. But my whole body simply feels "filled up". I don't know how else to describe that feeling--I feel full from the top of my head down through my toes. Perhaps it is a feeling of completeness. It is rather difficult in the course of our lives not to focus on our inadequacies, the things that we lack, the ways in which we fall short. Sitting in the Celestial room, I feel like a complete person who lacks nothing.
And yet. . . .
I went to the temple with a question in my heart. One that has long troubled me and I certainly and very powerfully got my answer, by casually reading over Doug's shoulder when he opened the scriptures. The only verse I could see from where I sat was the response that I needed. But (as is often the case, at least for me) the answer I received raised a multitude of new questions.
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine (and I hope she won't mind that I hijacked the content for these purposes) in which she said she didn't believe her brother needed to feel any great responsibility for his brothers and sisters because they are grown and have families of their own. I see her point and I should hope that everyone's greatest sense of responsibility (and action) is directed toward the family they have created, but marriages and children of our own do not exempt us from responsibility to the family we were raised with.
The responsibility we have to the family we come from is something I have and do spend a great deal of time thinking about. I believe the level of responsibility very much depends on the individuals and circumstances, being greater for some than for others. But what we actually do with that responsibility is the tricky part. The Savior was a perfect example of service partly because he had perfect empathy and perfect compassion. He understood people completely.
Jumping trains. . . .
I was watching part of the making of featurette on "Return of the King" with Doug the other night and remarked that one of my favorite scenes in the movie as well as the book is when all in attendance at Aragorn's coronation celebration bow to the four hobbits. None of us has passed through fire and hell and vanquished evil, but part of the reason that that story resonates so strongly with so many people is that most of us have one or two of those friends, our fellow hobbit--our companions in our most perilous journeys.
A friend of mine, who's a military man, once called them "battlemates", the people who have fought down in the trenches side by side with you. He said that the people you do battle with know you in a way that other people never do because you've experienced the worst things of your lives together. Most of us anymore are lucky enough to escape life without ever having to carry a gun and fight those kinds of battles, but we do have those unique friends that fight our metaphoric (or at least less graphic) battles with us. I think of my four oldest friends, who I grew up with. The five of us live in five different states; most of us have not had face to face conversations with each other in years. We all have many other wonderful friend in our lives now who are a few blocks away, not a few hundred miles. Yet, when one of us has a hard time or is frustrated or upset, often we deal with it by going to the computer and emailing our old friends about our troubles. There is comfort in that, because we grew up together, experienced the horror that is human adolescence:) together. We do feel like we always know and understand each other, because we have matching scars.
I think it's easier, however, to find friends in life who understand our deepest pains and sorrows. The people who understand those things do indeed know us well, but those who fully grasp our profoundest joys know us better. I think of being in the temple with Sam for the first time. It meant so much to me to serve as her escort, to stand next to each other and support each other again, as we had so many times before. She has been my best friend for virtually my whole life, and we have indeed seen each other's worst moments (and helped one another through them). But we can talk endlessly about the hard stuff. The moment she walked into the Celestial room in the Salt Lake temple, the supernal joy of that moment is what there are no words for. It couldn't be explained, it couldn't be expressed aloud. But in a tight embrace and a few tears, each of us knew without words that the other understood our speechless joy, knew it completely--understood a moment when everything we have been through came full circle and meant something so much more than we could've guessed as 12 year olds lying in a field full of daisies looking up at the blue June sky. There are people who have shared my heartaches with me and there are people who have shared my joys. But rare indeed are the people who understand both.
It can be disheartening to know that the people who have been at the root of some of your most profound sorrow don't understand the reason for your sorrow because they can't understand your most profound joy. No matter how much you love someone, you can't give them your knowledge in any way that really matters. You can't give them your joy. You can't take their stripes for them, no matter how willing you may think you are to do so. No matter how deep and warm your love for them, you can't hand them assurances you've been given.
What you can do is keep living in light, keep looking for opportunities to share it and have hope that soon they will hit a turning point and light will flood their souls.