“The Meadow,” New Era, Apr. 1985, 21
“All kingdoms have a law given; And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom” (D&C 88:36–37).
It is just a small piece of land near the woods, where the grasses and the flowers grow. I like it best in the morning when the sun is coming up or after a rainstorm when life seems fresh and new. Many people, strolling in the meadow, would not think it an extraordinary place. But for me it is full of wonder. I can’t help feeling a little like Alma when he exclaimed, “Yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it … do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).
In the meadow there is art and there is beauty, as carefully crafted as the work of an artisan’s hands. The bright light of morning turns seed pods into brass sculptures. Dewdrops on a dragonfly’s wings become a cape of diamonds. Shadows on a leaf form bands of fluorescent green and black, abstract designs like those on a painter’s canvas. What from a distance had seemed a tapestry of interwoven colors, up close becomes a universe of individual realms. A plant becomes a city; a brook becomes a universe, each with its own structure, symmetry, visitors, and inhabitants. An ordinary spider’s web becomes an exhibit of form and function. Keep looking, closer and closer. Even in the smallest areas, design and order are evident. The Creator described himself as the light and life of the world. Everywhere I look in the meadow, I see his light and life.
“He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
“Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. …
“And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
“Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
“The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God” (D&C 88:6–7, 11–13).
When dawn is just breaking in the meadow, the sunlight is golden and warm. Where there is light there is life, and all things seem to celebrate. A mayfly sips on nectar, a pewter silhouette on a green stem. A flower spreads her yellow skirt as if to dance. Stalks of grass bend with ripe seeds, full, plump, and heavy. A random, floating milkweed seed spins through the sky, pirouettes, and lands, a dainty ballerina on a satin stage. Like a child discovering his shadow for the first time, a grasshopper pauses to stare at his own giant image, then in a single, springing bound, flops away.
It is light that ties the kingdoms together. Plant or animal, water or earth, all the elements are warmed by it, penetrated by it, invigorated by it. The plants rejoice in it, the insects rejoice in it, and I rejoice in it, too, for it is light that makes me come alive.
“He hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons;
“And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets.
“And they give light to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes, in their hours, in their days, in their weeks, in their months, in their years—all these are one year with God, but not with man” (D&C 88:42–44).
As a photographer, I have traveled all over the world and seen many of the splendors known to man. But a few months ago I made a decision to find beauty in what we regard as less spectacular. And I found that you don’t have to go to the Grand Canyon to marvel at the creations of God. You can go in your own vicinity, in your own backyard. I went to the meadow.
To appreciate God’s creations, you have to learn to see. I believe this is what the Savior is teaching us in the first part of section 88, how to see. Everything around us bears witness of its own creation and design. Every animal or plant, in filling the measure of its creation, praises God. We must, by fulfilling our creation, do the same.
“And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.
“Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory;
“For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;
“That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified” (D&C 88:17–20).
The eye of the carnal man is limited. He wants to possess things in order to enjoy them. To profit from them, he thinks, they have to be his own. But there is a beauty in everyday life that outshines man-made beauty, a beauty that evaporates when someone tries to own it. If you want to possess it, it’s gone. You can’t buy it for money. All things are the Lord’s, and we inherit them only by entering the celestial kingdom.
“And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—
“Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it” (D&C 88:25–26).
A photograph freezes in time a single split second. It is a moment of intense feeling. From time to time I feel that I see in that small, brief glimpse, something fulfilling the measure of its creation, appearing as the Creator sees it, behaving as the Creator intended it to behave. I have come to understand that I must love all things because He is in all things. If I love the Lord, then I cannot violate nature. If I love nature and respect it, then I will see God in it. If we look at the world through worldly eyes, we start to lose respect for our vicinity. It becomes common to us. But if all things were first created spiritually, and we can learn to look at things with spiritual sensitivity, then new vistas of understanding will open to our view, even when we study the tiniest objects in the most remote places. And if we can find the Prince of Peace in the least of his creations, what comfort there is in the thought that as we study his example and come to know him, we will discover that his light is in us as well.
“Judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.
“He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever” (D&C 88:40–41).
It is amazing to think that the influence of a single being can be present everywhere. Yet when we worship Christ, we recognize that in all of his creations he is present, that all forms of life are sacred and should be treated with great reverence. Is it strange to think that a meadow can bear testimony? This meadow bears a testimony to me. Through my simple walks here, I have learned to know the Master Creator and to rejoice in what he shares so freely with me.
“Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand?
“Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any of the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power.
“I say unto you, he hath seen him; nevertheless, he who came unto his own was not comprehended.
“The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.
“Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound” (D&C 88:46–50).
It is morning in the meadow. The light is bright and warm. I am eager to walk there again, to see the flowers, grasses, and insects, to see the sun bring them to life, and to watch their silent witness that Jesus Christ is their Creator, the Savior of us all.