Monday, February 28, 2011

Tastes of Heaven

Florence May Chadwick
Yesterday I was teaching a Relief Society class on the Holy Ghost and how the Spirit operates in our lives. During the discussion I mentioned how every once in a while the Spirit gives us experiences that allow us a glimpse of heaven. We get a taste of what it will be like for eternity if we endure to the end. This is what C. S. Lewis referred to as Joy—a feeling of the infinite with all its accompanying goodness.

When I made this comment a woman in the class explained that usually the Spirit speaks to her in her mind, but she had also experienced these moments of extreme happiness and because the Spirit usually speaks to her mind she didn’t realize those feelings were coming from the Spirit. Then she asked why God gives us these moments. I didn’t answer the question well and while she won’t see this I feel compelled to answer it now.

My Father raised me on stories and one of those stories was about a woman named Florence May Chadwick. She was a swimmer (like I was—only she was a LOT better!) In 1950, Florence swam the English Channel in 13 hours and 20 minutes which was a world record. The next year she swam it in the other direction also breaking the record with a time of 16 hours and 22 minutes. Then in 1952 Florence attempted to swim the 21 miles from Catalina Island to Palos Verde, California.
That day a thick fog made it difficult to see even the boats that accompanied her. After a little more than 15 hours of swimming, tired and unable to see, she told her mother, who was in one of the boats, that she didn’t think she could make it, but she swam for another hour before finally asking to be pulled out. As the boat continued on she discovered that she had stopped swimming about one-half mile from her destination. She later told a reporter, "Look, I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I know I could have made it." Because she couldn’t see, she lost hope. Two months later Florence tried again. The same fog set in, but this time she continued on despite the fact she couldn’t see and achieved her goal in 13 hours, 47 minutes, and 55 seconds.

I think the Lord knows that you and I need a taste of what is to come in order to keep us “swimming.” When we see and know what is waiting for us, it is easier to hang in there when the “fog” of life is trying to blind us and keep us from our destination. Therefore, he gives us tastes of Heaven while we are still on earth. So look for those moments, recognize them for what they are, and cling to the memory of them.


Katie said...

perfect explanation! Thank you for another story for me to borrow for my Gospel Doctrine class!

Wendi said...

I can't even imagine swimming for that long! Wow! Thank you for this explanation. I agree and I really appreciate those tastes or glimpses of heaven that help me carry on. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a great story, but also for the fact you are the first person who has ever talked about Florence May Chadwick. She was my hero when I was little, because she could swim long distances that nobody thought a woman could. I was born breach and my left arm was paralyzed, so swimming, while a great exercise, was very hard for me to do. My dad had been in the Navy and knew about her, and told me stories of how she kept trying and gradually getting to the level where she was. I loved swimming and wanted to excel at it so I worked very hard and got to the point where I wouldn't drown, but logistically wouldn't be able to be a champion. I didn't feel awful about myself, but good because I was doing more than anyone thought I should be able to do, and that was what was important. I never won anything in swimming, couldn't even make the team, but greatly diminished the effects of the paralysis. My dad had also told me about the fog story, and reminded me that it wasn't until we came through the fog would we be able to see how far we had come. Great lessons for me to remember and reflect on. I know our dads knew each other as residents in Centerville, but it seems they had more in common than I knew. The points you made in your post are so true, and I didn't want to take you off subject, but I am so excited that you admire Florence May Chadwick, you even have her picture. Thank you so much, you are so in tune with things we need to hear that it amazes me.