A week and a half ago, I went stargazing with McKay and a few other people. McKay is notable because he's the astronomer, and he just got a new high-power laser specially designed for stargazing. The moon was a little bright to really have an amazing view of the sky, but that was just as well, since Spencer and I spent most of the time peppering McKay with astronomy questions. I learned a lot of interesting stuff. I generally study science on the micro scale of things, not the macro.
As always happens, I was strongly hit by the fact that what I was actually viewing was an image of what the stars looked like millions of years ago. Sitting up in the foothills and staring up at those points of light, I felt surrounded by eternity and just how eternal some things are, even when they happened long ago.
The next morning as I cleaned the railings in the living room, I talked to Kerstin about my experience the previous night and we discussed just what an interesting feeling it is when it really hits me deep that I'm gazing into the past when I stare at the night sky. Then we went on to discuss how, just like the stars, so many things in the past are always affecting us. Even my experience stargazing came forward in time with me to affect Kerstin's life, the result of which was the conversation we had. We talked about how our choices and actions often shine forward through time in unexpected ways, and may have unanticipated repercussions through a long chain of time.
It was in a similar vein to one of the philosophies I've been building lately for myself. In church one Sunday a few months ago, I picked up the phrase "sacred goal" from a hymn in Sacrament Meeting and the expression "eternal consequences" from the Relief Society lesson. I liked them both and started mulling them over and over in my mind. Then it occured to me that the gospel is really nothing more than a set of sacred goals that we all set before we arrived on this earth and the eternal consequences that achieving- or not achieving- each one of them will have, both on me and on those I interact with directly and indirectly.
The scriptures are loaded with sacred goals and their eternal consequences. The Beatitudes, for example, are a listing of goals and then straight up pair the consequence of striving for that goal with them. Blessed are the meek- there is the goal. For they shall inherit the earth- the consequence of being meek. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. That's a pretty good consequence right there, I'd say. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Isn't it delightful? We are given set goals and told straight up what the consequences of reaching for them will be. I also love doing this in my patriarchal blessing, a special, personal document that members of my church are given when they feel that the time is right. They are full of personal guidance and direction, and, as I've discovered, sacred goals for me specifically to reach for, and the eternal consequences that will be mine if I obtain the goals. I love it. If you have a patriarchal blessing, read it from that perspective sometime.
Goal setting has always appealed to me, but never more so than when I apply it to the overarching course of my life and focus on sacred goals. These are the goals that work towards softening my heart, opening my eyes, and bringing me nearer to God. And the closer I am to Him, the easier it is to hear the specific guidance He gives me. Sometimes the goals He gives me are small and I am not sure what their purpose is right away. This is why I love this scripture that I just really read for the first time with comprehension last week-
D&C 123:15 Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.
In other words, when the Lord commands and it seems like a small or tiresome thing, be careful. I never know when what I am doing now will shine forward into the future and affect my preparation for future experiences. Just like those stars, shining millions of years ago, had no idea that the light they emitted at that particular time would be used, millions of years later, for travelers to navigate across deserts and oceans.