“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18)
As I sit here preparing to write this post, I’m torn between having no words, and feeling like there aren’t enough words to describe this incredible weekend. Maybe between myself and the others who will certainly be sharing their experiences from this weekend too, those who weren’t able to attend can feel a bit of the light and the pure love of Christ, that was so abundant. The reunion was an amazing success in my opinion. I will be so bold as to say that the Lord was there, and the conditions that make Zion possible were being manifest.
I am grateful to Bret and Samantha for all their sacrifices, and the punishment they took to do what the Lord led them to do. I’m grateful for everyone who sacrificed with them and put this together, and all those who made it possible for everyone who wanted to, to be there. Everyone involved gave a piece of themselves to make this possible for everyone.
I arrived late on Friday, so my first evening was spent saying a quick hello to many people who were there listening to the first speakers. How amazing it is – EVERY TIME, to be reunited with my most wonderful friends I’ve known for lifetimes, and to meet some of you for the first time, in this one. These reunions remind me of this scripture:
“And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;” (Moses 7:63)
Every time I experience these amazing spiritual connections that are forming among us, I feel more love for every individual than I can even contain. But I’ll talk more about that later.
The second day, I spent the afternoon with the teenagers helping them with an end-times simulation activity they had planned and organized themselves. I enjoyed getting to know them over the weekend; I was SO impressed with these kids. I have never seen a more spiritually mature group of youth before. They are strong and not simply following their parents on their path, but forging their own paths because of the examples of their courageous parents. They talked openly with their peers about the things they were studying – and some of them talked with me as intelligent ancient souls, about doctrines I’ve only known about for couple years myself. They testified of conversations with the Lord and shared some of their amazing personal revelations and visions with the group. I couldn’t help feeling like I was seeing the scriptures come alive before me:
“Behold, it came to pass on the morrow that the multitude gathered themselves together, and they both saw and heard these children; yea, even babes did open their mouths and utter marvelous things; and the things which they did utter were forbidden that there should not any man write them.” (3 Nephi 26:16)
This kind of behavior was rampant among the youth there! These kids are INTERESTED in the fullness of the Gospel and are being very proactive about knowing the Lord for themselves. They are all facing unique life challenges in choosing to follow the Lord the way they are. And as I listened to them talk about these struggles throughout the weekend, I marveled that every one of them ended their accounts with something like this:
“…but I know I’m doing what the Lord wants me to do, and He will lead me.“
After the teen activity, we met up with the adults on the mountain to gather around the campfire at the lodge, and bear testimony together. It was just awesome. This was not a group of people standing to offer thanktimonies or travelogues; people were testifying of knowing and talking with the Lord, of visions, of being taught by angels, of Baptism by Fire and the Holy Ghost, of being called to do life changing things to serve the Lord, of miracles, and of recognizing these eternal spiritual connections among us that are growing. Testimonies like these continued throughout the weekend and ALL were lifted up and made lighter by the things that were shared.
As I participated in this activity, I observed a group of the most kind and considerate individuals while we were there. All of us were freezing, and all of us needed chairs and warmth. But many people gave up their own chairs for others, found more for late-comers, and shared blankets, gloves, hats, room by the fire, “hot” chocolate, and anything else they had to share. I am grateful for the chair, the gloves, the blanket, the “hot” chocolate, and the woman who held my boy the entire meeting while I was in too much pain to hold him anymore.
One man received a witness there on the mountain, that he needed to be baptized unto the Lord. The handful of us with him scouted around and found an opening in the icy mountain water where he could fulfill the ordinance. Travis shared the journey he had traveled to reach that point and was bold in testifying that he needed to be baptized that day. My good friend Vaughn stood in the ice water with his arms raised to heaven and prayed before this ordinance, and then baptized Travis with authority and power. I watched Travis’ muscles lock up throughout his body from the shock of the extreme cold as he was submerged into the water, but he came up with a huge smile on his face. All of us there who shared in his baptism experience had the privilege of enjoying in the pure love of Christ among us, and the spirit of God that was there. As we hiked back up the hill to drive back down the mountain, I turned and saw Travis – soaking wet and shivering, kneeling in the snow so he could pray to the God he just covenanted with. I’m so amazed by this new friend of mine and his determination to unabashedly GO and DO what the Lord asked him to do – right then and there, and with no regard to how inconvenient or uncomfortable it was for him at the time.
As I promised, I want to talk more about “spiritual connections”. Many of us have been experiencing this phenomenon. It could be likened to the pure love and spiritual bond between a parent and child. It is eternal and unconditional. When these bonds and connections are realized, it can be powerful and overwhelming. In my experience, it has involved a level of love for the other person that is so utterly powerful that you would do anything you can to love and uplift that individual in the unique ways they need to be loved and uplifted – just like you would for your child. These connections often times open up knowledge by revelation about the other person and their needs. Sometimes the bonds forged are strong enough to make the parties become aware of each other’s feelings, and some individuals seem to become connected telepathically. Spiritual communication becomes possible, joint visions can occur, and the Lord is able to minister to them in tandem. When these connections happen, you start learning what it really means to have the pure love of Christ for someone; the “highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection” (“Charity”, Bible dictionary.) These spiritual connections are essential among those who share in Zion, and are representative of the even greater cooperation and relationships among Gods.
The Savior taught us,
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
This is the pure love of Christ. I would lay down my life for any of those whom I’ve felt these spiritual connections with. This is the kind of love that was utterly abundant at this gathering. There are so many ways one can lay down their life for their friends.
Many of us there (along with others around the world) lay all we could give down as we worked spiritually to keep our friend Candice alive (for those who don’t know her, she’s a member of our community from Nashville). When she began crashing as she fought to recover from a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), the women at the reunion formed a prayer circle and wept and prayed for two hours, and did all they could to spiritually support her. Others used various spiritual gifts to work to heal her.
Candice’s spirit was with me frequently during those couple days she spent in the hospital. As we were on the Mesa sharing our testimonies, Candice was with me again. I talked with her as I had been and I kept encouraging her to fight, and to be strong, and I reminded her that we love her so much, and that we were fighting with her, and praying for her. As I explained above, this kind of communication becomes possible with these spiritual connections, and it’s truly amazing. But it can also be just as painful as it is amazing. As I sat and listened to the testimonies of my friends on the mountain, I felt Candice “disconnect” very suddenly. I found out a few hours later that my friend had died.
Everyone’s prayers then extended to Candice’s family and also to each other as we mourned together, and supported one another through various stages of grief. I don’t even know the name of the woman who came to my aid when she found me sobbing after hearing the news, but I truly love her. All of us there allowed each other to grieve, and all of us there were willing to share the grief our brother or sister carried, too. Although I still have a lot to resolve internally and work through regarding my friend’s death, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve been able to learn from it so far. I refuse to let my friend’s death be for naught. I am grateful for the spiritual connections that were made and fostered between me and the other women at the retreat – because we had the opportunity to serve and love each other as we mourned together. As we held each other and offered comfort, we were also – at the same time, being held and comforted.
Candice saw and felt the amazing cooperation and love that is developing among us, and shared this with me last week before she passed away:
“I felt a feeling the other day that among some of these people I will really finally find a true community.” (Candice Zimmermann, in her last email to me.)
The pure love of Christ does not just extend to those in “our crowd”. My good friend Jefferey gave us all the opportunity to love someone new when he picked up a hitchhiker on his drive across the country to meet with us. The young man’s name is Alec, and he was trying to get to California. Jeffrey brought him the first half of the way and Alec spent the weekend as one of us. He was given food, housed, and fed spiritually as he got to know us and shared this amazing time with us. I was surprised to learn some of the miracles that lined up to bring Alec to this gathering with us.
It turns out that Alec grew up in the LDS church and at this point in his life, he is seeking “something more”. I saw him at a sacrament gathering and offered him a copy of the book my friend Jeremy wrote, “The Journey – Receiving Our Endowment“. He was very gracious and shyly thanked me. I was surprised when I talked with him the next day, and he told me he already read the whole book and loved it! He really appreciated the message and told me that it resonates with him. If you haven’t read the book before, it uncovers some of the meaning behind the symbolic LDS Temple Endowment ceremony. It discusses that the fullness of the Gospel is to be received by the Lord, and then brought to God – in THIS lifetime. I was truly awestruck that this young “random” hitchhiker my friend brought along with him, was standing there telling me how much a message that deep, resonated with him; and I had no doubt at all that he was utterly sincere.
Another friend, Sean, took our new friend Alec further across the country and dropped him off with his brother in Nevada, and also bought a bus ticket to get Alec the rest of the way to his ultimate destination in California. Sean pointed out what I believe to be, a very prophetic parable spoken by the Lord:
“And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14:15-35)
Jeffrey had ears to hear the Lord’s voice and our friend Alec was brought in from the highways to share in this weekend long feast we enjoyed with the Lord. There truly were no poor among us. I am blessed for knowing Alec and am marveling that this kid filled my heart the way he has.
The last day was bittersweet – filled with joy, love, the spirit of the Lord, more bereavement, and goodbyes. Adrian gave an amazing concluding talk, and did an incredible job of sharing his light and the knowledge God has given to him. He testified boldly and witnessed of things I was so grateful to hear him saying openly, and I add my witness to all he shared. The end was just powerful and one of those things I’ll say, I just have no words to describe.
At least a handful of people learned who they are to the Lord this weekend; they learned that they were for-ordained by God to do great and amazing things to uplift and bring light and the pure love of Christ, to those around them. They learned a little bit more about how the Lord sees them and began to see the heavens opened to them.
I am so utterly grateful I was able to attend this gathering. I experienced connecting with others I love deeply and consider to be family, and experienced becoming “one heart and one mind”; I experienced three days of feasting on the Gospel and with others, communing with the Lord while He confirmed to us that we were there acting in righteousness; and there truly were no poor among us – spiritually, or otherwise. I have been uplifted, comforted, cared for, served, blessed, edified, quickened, and loved – and I had the opportunity to share in all those things with the others who attended, too. There simply was not enough time to enjoy everyone’s company as much as I wanted to – I pray all of our paths will cross again in this lifetime.
If you were unable to attend this gathering and would like to hear the talks that were given over the weekend, you can access the audio files through this link:
To the locals who know the history of this area and who enjoy the spirit surrounding this mountain each day, the Mesa is a sacred place. Now this place is sacred to me, too. For ME, this place, and this people, and this weekend was Zion.