For those who may be feeling oh-so-done with this Covid experience, an interesting comparison. And some fresh perspective.
From Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk, “Lessons from Liberty Jail”…
“Liberty Jail [is] one of the more forbidding structures in that region. Surrounded by stone walls four feet thick…the dungeon was barely six feet. Inasmuch as some of the men, including the Prophet Joseph, were over six feet tall, this meant that when standing they were constantly in a stooped position.
The food given to the prisoners was coarse and sometimes contaminated, so filthy that one of them said they ‘could not eat it until [they] were driven to it by hunger.’
In the Prophet Joseph’s letters, [he said] ‘We have … not blankets sufficient to keep us warm; and when we have a fire, we are obliged to have almost a constant smoke,’ he said. ‘Our souls have been bowed down’ and ‘my nerve trembles from long confinement,’ Joseph wrote. All of this occurred during what…was considered the coldest winter on record in the state of Missouri.”
He and his companions spent four and a half months in the jail. But then then comes the beauty for ashes.
“Elder Brigham H. Roberts…spoke of the facility as a temple, or, more accurately, a ‘prison-temple.'”
Elder Holland explained, “You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced.”
We can find purpose in this experience. We can use it to feel a deeper connection to the Divine, to more fully come to know Him in our emotional extremity, and to know His current will for us.
With reduced distractions and time to focus, we can ask more sincerely and seek more diligently to know what to let go, and what to cultivate.
Our experience isn’t even close to that of Liberty Jail, but the principles are parallel. When things are difficult, out of our control, and the future unknown, we can use this unexpected gift of time and space as a refining instead of whining experience.
Yes, there are challenges and emotional issues and financial difficulties. And, there is beauty and joy and kindness. As well as electricity, full fridges, indoor plumbing, and springtime weather.
This can be a time to open our heart and soul to something more–to hear Him. To turn from the busy, noisy daily life we were living to a more intentional, spiritually-driven life we can now implement.
Indeed, a prison-temple in the gentlest, most tender sense He can give us.