Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Magic Eye" Moments

I was on a date when it finally happened.

It was something I had waited for, worked for, hoped for. Something that had eluded me for too much time. Something that brought such a thrill that I wanted to call home to share my excitement and relief.

I had finally "gotten into" a Magic Eye picture.

They had been all the rage at our family parties. I would sit and listen to the "oooooo"s and "aaaahhhh"s as relative after relative would discover the wonder lurking in that third dimension. I tried many tricks at those parties, but couldn't seem to get my eyes to do what they were supposed to do. I was left with what was simply printed on the page. But it was clear that seeing the image beyond the image was an experience worth seeking. (I wanted to "ooooo" and "aaahhhh"!)

And, at last, perseverance paid off. The initial rush of finally seeing beyond the two-dimensional image was thrilling enough, but then I discovered that the longer I was "inside" the image, the more clearly I could see. I could even "look around" – and it was as though I was in another world for those moments.

A few years later, I had another "Magic Eye experience," but this time it was with the scriptures. It was one of those more rare and intense "pure intelligence" experiences that was like having light poured into my mind and soul. I had been studying for some time about the temple; I wanted to understand it better. The "a-ha" experience I had peeled off layers of my understanding and started me on a journey of study and understanding that lasted for weeks. My temple worship has not been the same since. 

What made the experience even more interesting (and humbling) is the realization that I could have had learned these things months earlier had I really heard and read what an apostle of the Lord had taught. The scriptures and Bible Dictionary entries I had read had been suggested by Elder Russell M. Nelson in a Conference talk and then again in an Ensign article less than a year later. I discovered Elder Nelson's article open on my bed after having this flood of light. It was as if the Lord wanted me to realize what treasures are in the words of the prophets and the scriptures, if I have eyes to see.

Of course, most of our experiences with studying the gospel aren't quite as dramatic as what I have shared. But the principle is true: when we feast on the word of God (personally and as "fellowcitizens with the saints"), we can gain insights through the Spirit. We can have those "a-ha" moments – Magic Eye Moments, if you will – that help us see beyond what our mortal minds and eyes alone can teach us. They give us a glimpse here and a glimmer there of an eternal dimension. The more we learn through the Spirit, the more clearly we can really see and understand "things as they really are, and...things as they really will be" (Jacob 4:13).