Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lesser Lights, Greater Lights

14 And the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven, and caused them to divide the day from the night; and organized them to be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years;
15 And organized them to be for lights in the expanse of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so.
16 And the Gods organized the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; with the lesser light they set the stars also;
17 And the Gods set them in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to cause to divide the light from the darkness. (Abraham 4:14-17)

Recently in our family scripture study, my husband and I read through these verses. A few days later, we were out on a late night walk next to a canal that runs near our subdivision and the full moon was beginning to rise in the sky to our right. There were no streetlights along the canal, so we were thankful for that moon-gleam.

My husband must have been ruminating on the moon because he turned to me and said, “I think it is interesting how the light of the moon is bright enough that we can see each other and where we are going. I can see you, I can see the road we are walking on, and if I didn’t know the sun existed, I might think this was all I needed.”

Then he said, “I think it is also interesting that in life some people are like the sun. They always seem to be at their best, even when it’s hard. You can always count on them. Then there are other people who are like the moon. They seem to go through waxing and waning cycles in which part of the time they set a pretty good example and then another part of the time they don’t, or they even seem to disappear. You can’t always count on them.”

I thought that was an interesting perspective on degrees of glory. I hadn’t thought of it quite like that before. It was also unexpected to have an observation like that come through consideration of the creation story.

But what he said definitely made me want to be like the sun. Sometimes I feel too much like a body that waxes and wanes. I go through stages in which I gladly project what I stand for, but then I go through stages in which I find myself searching for more, and I feel like I become like some sort of sun-sponge, trying to soak in as much good as I can from the everything around me in preparation for the next solar flare or solar prominence. During my really rough times I feel like I’m a black hole of neediness, sucking the strength out of everyone. (Deep down I know I’m really not, but sometimes I feel that way.)

When I was taking an astronomy in class, I learned that our sun goes through an internal cycle by which it tries to maintain something called “hydrostatic equilibrium”. (The “hydro” part is in there because the sun is made out of hydrogen). The cycle goes like this: The hydrogen in the core fuses together to produce helium, and in the process, creates energy (heat and light). The explosiveness of the process causes the sun to expand. But the gravity of the star causes the mass of the star to contract into the center. When these expansive and contractive forces are balanced, there is equilibrium. But there is constant rebalancing.

I figure our lives are kind of like this when we have different demands and priorities pulling at us. We achieve a kind of equilibrium by balancing and rebalancing, correcting and re-correcting.

Something I also learned was about sunspots. I learned that sunspots happen as the sun’s magnetic field is twisted by its rotation, kind of like a rubber band wrapped multiple times around a ball. The tension causes little magnetic storms called sunspots and eventually the tension breaks and then the twisting starts again. Yes. Suns feel tension too. Suns have storms too. And they are visible to others, but it doesn’t affect the amount of light we are getting to a dangerous degree.

I think that says to me that it is natural to have tension in our lives and have those storms from time to time. Just because we have that doesn't mean we aren't doing our best and doesn't mean we aren't on track towards eternal life in the celestial kingdom. It says to me that the good effect we have and the light that we share is far greater than the tension we deal with.

Image: Third Grade Discoveries,

Inage: Windows to the Universe,


Jennifer O. said...

Michaela, this was full of great insights - I really enjoyed the astronomy information and application. I hadn't previously considered those aspects of the sun and moon.

One thing to add about the moon compared to the sun (and its relation to the three degrees of glory that you brought up) is that both deal with light. However, the sun is able to produce its own light, whereas the moon is not capable of producing its own light - it is merely a reflection of the light of the sun. I think we can see some parallels to our valiance in our testimonies with this.

It goes back to the "do we practice what we preach" or just "go through the motions". It is our acquiring light, internal light, through BECOMING, not just DOING, that makes us true celestial / sun material.

Thanks for the post!

Tamara said...

Wow. Very interesting insights. You've given me a lot to think about. Excellent post!

Jared said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights.

Heather@Women in the Scriptures said...

Wow, I really liked this post. I guess I'd never thought deeper on why God compares the kingdoms to the sun, the moon and the stars. I love it how God gives us symbolism that can be understood on multiple levels. It is always amazing to me how I think I understand something and then one day "BAM" I realize that what I "know" is just barely scraping the surface.