My friend, Richard N. shared this image with me, and I thought it was fantastic. What is lacking in artistic skill is made up for in composition and message which I will attempt to break down as intricately as I can. The artist is Sr Grace Remington OCSO, a Cistercian Sister of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, Dubuque, Iowa.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been coming across fascinating tidbits of information that appear to show connections between the Holy Spirit and our Heavenly Mother. During a recent morning family scripture study in 1 Nephi 11, I noticed a couple of interesting things and I’ll share some of the details.
In verse 16, the angel asks Nephi “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” When Nephi appears not to know the answer, (vs.17) the angel shows him this beautiful, fair virgin again and reveals that she is “the mother of the Son of God” (vs.18) and she is shown with a child in her arms. (vs.20) The angel tells Nephi that this child is “the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father” (vs.21)
The angel then asks Nephi another question: “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?” (vs.21) Nephi answers knowingly that the tree “is the love of God.” (vs.22) Nephi then sees many people worship Jesus and explains his understanding of the iron rod and the fountain of water. (vs.24-25)
Now that Nephi understands the meaning of the tree the angel says “Look and behold the condescension of God!” (vs.23) It is at this point that the angel shows Nephi key events in the life of Jesus from his baptism to his crucifixion. What I want to focus on what I believe are parallel elements that follow the two verses that mention the phrase “the condescension of God.”
There is a distinct mother and son presence in these verses, and it isn’t quite apparent at first. We see the Spirit mentioned in direct conjunction with a birth and a rebirth account as well; these things are significant so take note!Read Full Post
In Lehi’s vision, there are 18 references to the fruit of the tree of life with only 9 references to the tree itself. (1 Nephi 8)
In Nephi’s vision, there is a larger focus on the tree of life with 9 references to the tree and only 1 reference to the fruit. (1 Nephi 11) When Nephi is explaining the vision to his brothers, he mentions the tree 5 times and the fruit 2 times. (1 Nephi 15) That would make a total of 14 references to the tree and 3 references to the fruit by Nephi in the context of his vision.
Lehi > fruit: 18, tree: 9
Nephi > tree: 14, fruit: 3
Symbolism can convey numerous meanings depending on how the context shifts; herein lies its power.
The tree of life bears a white fruit that captured Lehi’s attention. Immediately following the vision of this tree bearing fruit is a virgin holding a child. The implication is that the tree is synonymous with the virgin, and the fruit is synonymous with the child, or in other words, the tree is Mary, and the fruit is Jesus.
Nephi’s vision tells us that the tree also represents the love of God, as does the fountain of living waters. On another level, however, I believe that Mary may potentially represent Jesus’ spiritual mother as well — our Heavenly Mother (more on that in the future).
What does this all mean? I’m not entirely sure yet; I just found this to be an interesting observation, and I’m certain that it is significant.
If the focus of Lehi and Nephi in these visions carries over to their teachings, it makes me wonder if there is more in Nephi’s writings that could lead to a greater understanding of our Heavenly Mother.
I have put the words that I believe are related directly to the divine Mother motif in ALL CAPS AND BOLD. The following verses in this article area all connected to each other and certain key points have been emphasized.
I encourage you to open your scriptures and take the time to ponder them in context and look for other connections because they are everywhere.
The Tree and the Virgin
1 Nephi 11:7
which bore the fruit
which thy father tasted
1 Nephi 11:8
I looked and beheld a TREE
the beauty was far beyond
yea, exceeding of all beauty
and the whiteness thereof
did exceed the whiteness
of the driven snow
1 Nephi 11:13
I beheld a VIRGIN and she was
exceedingly fair & white
1 Nephi 11:15
A VIRGIN most beautiful and fair
above all other VIRGINS
1 Nephi 11:18
the VIRGIN which thou seest is the
MOTHER of god after the manner of the flesh [original manuscript & 1830 edition]
1 Nephi 11:20
I beheld the VIRGIN again
bearing a child in her arms (vs.7 – tree which bore the fruit)
1 Nephi 11:21
knowest thous the meaning of the TREE?
Note that the tree itself (not the fruit) and the virgin are both ‘exceedingly’ beautiful/fair and white (another word for pure). The virgin and the tree are synonymous but that isRead Full Post
Consider that the tree of life and temple ascension are at their deepest levels tied to birth concepts and actually symbolize the placenta (tree or link between mother and child) and the umbilical cord (iron rod and covenants made by dividing and reconnecting things).
At birth we are cut off from the tree of life and the rod, so Lehi’s vision shows us how we can return. Note that after Nephi was shown the tree, he was shown a woman, Mary.
Nicodemus’ question may have been more insightful than we realize: “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” The temple patterns illustrate a symbolic return to the womb, innocence, Eden, etc. In fact, the original Nauvoo temple architect Wandle Mace said: “The order of architecture [on the Nauvoo Temple] was unlike anything in existence; it was purely original; being a representation of the Church, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
Read Full Post
The following was a talk I gave in my sacrament meeting for Mother’s Day, May 10, 2015.
Today I want to address motherhood as it relates to paradoxes, mother Eve in the garden, scriptural themes that are given the female gender, and how motherhood encompasses far more than just the bearing of children.
When two things collide and don’t seem to fit together, we say it is a contradiction. A paradox is something true that only appears to be a contradiction because we do not yet see the whole picture.
We experience paradoxes all the time, some in the form of people, life events, or nature, and there are plenty in scripture, church history, doctrine, and policy.
I believe that we should not fear paradoxes; they are a necessary part of our mortal experience. Encountering them and wrestling with them reveals a lot about how we think, what we desire, and what we are willing to do when our vision of the truth becomes clearer. It is our willingness to dive in between the two extremes of the paradox that the truth is found.
The first paradox appeared in a place calledRead Full Post