I just finished a business trip in Ireland. I enjoyed the work, loved getting to know the people there and of course enjoyed exploring the town of Dublin and the country side after work. The town seems to be growing like crazy. A short drive to the country side seems to put you back in time. It’s a beautiful, breath taking green. It rained most of the time we were there. Still, I could easily get used to living there.
On the way home I caught a flight from Dublin to Copenhagen and then from Copenhagen home to the US of A. The first leg of the flight was a short 2 hours and I ended up sitting next to a wonderful Irish couple in their thirties or so. No children, out for a long weekend in Denmark.
I don’t know how it started, but it seems like almost immediately the lady was asking me about what it’s like to be a Mormon and how the church works. During the course of the conversation I found out that she is both a lawyer as well as a psychologist and very well read. She is Catholic and participates a weekly study session with 2 nuns, herself and a few other friends of other faiths as far as I could tell. A she is very interested in religion and asked many very good questions. We didn’t agree on everything, one rarely does when talking about religion, but on most things we did and the conversation was amicable and had a fun pace to it. Her husband certainly was nice, but didn’t participate declaring with a smile, “When it comes to religion, I’ve been there, done that.” So we continued talking just us the two of us.
One of the most interesting things for me was our discussion of a pre-mortal existence. The idea the we lived before were born seemed a brand new idea to her. When we discussed the idea that before we were born, we lived with our Heavenly Parents and that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” it seemed perhaps the newest idea that had crossed her path in a very long time.
We got pretty quickly to the question of the purpose of life and while she didn’t share with me what she thought it was, I did with her. She did share some very interesting insights into how she thought people change and grow and was able to explain it in very sociological terms. Basically, for us to change, we need to have a input that allows us to see a contrast, and the input must come from something or someone external. This way we can make a choice. Without the input, we continue as we are and change cannot occur. I thought this was very insightful, and it reminded me of a bit of scripture:
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God. … Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.”
We then discussed more about why we would need to come to this earth and experience life in this way. I explained how I believe that we must learn from our own experience right from wrong. And by learning to choose the right, we experience more happyness and joy. The purpose of life then is to increase our joy and happiness by becoming like our Father in Heaven. We do this as we learn to think as He thinks, do as He does, love as He loves. We both agreed that this process would take us far into the next existence and then the flight came to an end and we said our good byes.
I often speak with those I meet. Everywhere in fact. I really enjoy learning about others and how they see life and what interests them. I came away from this conversation feeling like maybe I take for granted far too much of the religious truths I hold dear. It’s not always too acceptable these days to speak of religion in public, at least at work, but I can’t help but think that the simple truths, about God, the purpose of life, and the role of Christ in our redemption and eventual return home, simply sooth the soul and invite a reflective hue on life that ingenders change. And change, that’s something we can all use.