Monday, August 1, 2011

A Lesson in Truth from a Blue Heron

Many of the situations in life that vex us come from other people. Someone slanders us, or misrepresents us, or treats us ill for some reason such as jealousy. In those situations the temptation is to seek revenge or at least to set the record straight by loudly proclaiming our innocence. But any thoughts of retaliation will only vex us more—it’s like taking poison in order to cure pneumonia. Vengence only cause us more pain—Unnecessary Pain.

But if you trust in the Lord to work His justice and mercy, you leave all in His hands. Sometimes that means He leads the person to repent and change. If the person refuses and clings to his negative behavior, you can trust in the fact that he will receive the justice due. In the meantime, you have nothing to fret about. You are free from Unnecessary Pain and at peace. This peace is part of what the Savior means when He invites us to enter into His rest. As Mormon teaches us in Moroni 7:3, “Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are the peaceable followers of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord.”

In nature we find a situation that illustrates this. When an eagle stalks a grey heron, the heron doesn’t always run or try to escape. Instead, it calmly faces its enemy without vexation. At any point the eagle can refuse to attack, but if it attacks, the heron raises its lance-like bill and the mighty eagle, by the force of its own attack, is often impaled.

From the perspective of the eagle, the story obviously teaches that those who hurt others hurt themselves. But there is also a lesson to be learned from the heron. When we Live in Truth and refuse to be vexed by the actions of others, Truth, like the heron’s bill, will save us.

Interestingly, in 1775 the 1st Continental Congress issued a three dollar bill with the image of an eagle skewered through the neck by a heron’s bill. The motto on the bill read "Exitus in dubio est" which means “The outcome is in doubt.” From a mortal point of view the heron (or the person calmly Living in Truth) does seem to be the underdog, but like the heron the Colonists beat the British just as those who live in Truth will eventually conquer all enemies.

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