One year later, Bob and Ginny called to request Dad speak at his cousin Nell’s funeral in Ogden. The funeral would be conducted by the Presbyterian Church but, by bringing Dad into the picture (who brought along the musical number Susan and I would perform) and the Sign Language interpreter (a local Relief Society sister), the minister found himself sharing a program with those who spoke a slightly different religious language. As carefully as she had attended to affairs in the event of her death, Nell’s plan needed to be augmented a little with what her only heir, a Mormon convert, and her daughter-in-law wanted to hear–including, perhaps, that she had gone ahead to “prepare a place” for them.
Speaking of those of us who speak Mormon–we resonate to the word “mansions.” It goes with our ideas of reward and a notion of distinct levels–earned by achievement–as we inherit the Celestial Kingdom. How do we imagine this reward? Perhaps we envision our post-mortal home as luxurious, where every comfort is the concern of a perfectly-attentive staff. Perhaps that’s why “mansion” was chosen as the Bible became translated into English. Back then, faithful peasants must have been especially drawn to this hope of Heavenly privilege enjoyed by only the highest caste in their society.
The word used in the original Greek is mone, “dwelling; the act of staying or residing.” (I see a parallel in Spanish with the word hacienda. It could be translated into English as “farm” or even “dude ranch” but the term literally derived from the present participle of the verb “to do” which is “doing.”) In the same sentence we can apply the biblical meaning of a father’s “house” which is “family.”
Combining these two definitions, can we understand that we belong to a family where acts of living together are accommodated?
A personal word about “house.” A decade ago, I was desperately trying to save my house, a pursuit I deemed worthy of my prayers. I knew those prayers were heard (just assumed the answer was “no”). But now I see how Heaven graciously interpreted the more important meaning of the word I was using. I have been blessed with the most luxurious house apart from any physical structure. My children sustain acts of dwelling, being present, which I now see as infinitely more valuable than the art on my walls or my relative station in the ‘hood.
More shades in the scripture’s meaning: “I will come again and receive you unto myself.” This Savior doesn’t just show us once. He comes again. If we pattern our behavior after his, we receive him also. Dwelling is the act of being present with the Divine.
Find what’s yours . . . truly, danscir52
copyright 2014 Dan Christensen all rights reserved