- A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the earth and the sun, almost completely blocking any light from the sun’s surface. The fact that this can happen is a marvel to me. If you imagine the sun as the size of a common bicycle tire, the moon in comparison would scarcely be the size of a small pebble.
- How is it possible that the very source of our warmth, light, and life could be so greatly obscured by something comparatively insignificant in size?
- Although the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, it is also 400 times farther away from the earth. From earth’s perspective, this geometry makes the sun and moon appear to be the same size. When the two are aligned just right, the moon seems to obscure the entire sun. Friends and family of mine who were in the zone of total eclipse described how light was replaced by darkness, the stars appeared, and birds quit singing. The air became chilly, as temperatures in an eclipse can decrease by more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
He speaks about the caution that is needed to protect our eyes when observing this event. We need special glasses that protect our eyes from the harmful damage that can occur.
- Safety was made possible because they wore glasses equipped with special filtered lenses that protected their eyes from any potential harm.
Elder Stevenson now uses this story to liken it to our spiritual journey in life.
- In the same manner that the very small moon can block the magnificent sun, extinguishing its light and warmth, a spiritual eclipse can occur when we allow minor and troublesome obstructions—those we face in our daily lives—to get so close that they block out the magnitude, brightness, and warmth of the light of Jesus Christ and His gospel.
- Looking at a spiritual eclipse through the protecting and softening lens of the Spirit provides a gospel perspective, thus protecting us from spiritual blindness.
He says that the words of the prophets create a spiritual lenses around us that block us from harm during a spiritual eclipse. He speaks about how we can put on our own spiritual glasses to protect us.
- With the words of the prophets in our hearts and the Holy Spirit as our counselor, we can gaze at partially blocked heavenly light through “gospel glasses,” avoiding the harm of a spiritual eclipse.
- So how do we put on gospel glasses? Here are some examples: Our gospel glasses inform us that the Lord desires that we partake of the sacrament each week and that He desires that we study the scriptures and have daily prayer. They also inform us that Satan will tempt us not to. We know that his agenda seeks to take away our agency through distractions and worldly temptations. Even in Job’s day, perhaps there were some experiencing a spiritual eclipse, described as: “They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.”
- A gospel perspective expands our sight to an eternal view. When you put on gospel glasses, you find enhanced perspective, focus, and vision in the way you think about your priorities, your problems, your temptations, and even your mistakes.
Elder Stevenson gives us two examples of things that penetrate our gospel glasses. We need to be careful to not let these things obscure our view of eternal matters.
- All of the virtues and appropriate use of these technologies notwithstanding, there are risks associated with them that, when drawn too close, can put us in a spiritual eclipse and potentially block the brightness and warmth of the gospel.
- The use of social media, mobile apps, and games can be inordinately time-consuming and can reduce face-to-face interaction. This loss of personal conversation can affect marriages, take the place of valuable spiritual practices, and stifle the development of social skills, especially among youth.
He points out that there are other harmful effects of social media that can damage our spiritual glasses.
- Two additional risks related to social media are idealized reality and debilitating comparisons.
- As Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson reminded us this morning, success in life doesn’t come down to how many likes we get or how many social media friends or followers we have. It does, however, have something to do with meaningfully connecting with others and adding light to their lives.
- Hopefully, we can learn to be more real, find more humor, and experience less discouragement when confronted with images that may portray idealized reality and that too often lead to debilitating comparisons.
The second thing that can penetrate our spiritual glasses is pride.
- Relationships, even with close family and loved ones, especially with close family and loved ones—even between husbands and wives—are fostered in humility and are stymied by pride.
- I pray that we will strive to avoid the spiritual eclipse of pride by embracing the virtue of humility.
Elder Stevenson concludes with an invitation to look at our lives through spiritual glasses and make sure that our decisions are focused on eternity.
- If you discover anything that seems to be blocking the light and joy of the gospel in your life, I invite you to place it in a gospel perspective. Look through a gospel lens and be vigilant not to allow insignificant and inconsequential matters in life to obscure your eternal view of the great plan of happiness. In short, don’t let life’s distractions eclipse heaven’s light.
Likening the eclipse to our spiritual lives is such a great analogy. Darkness, cold, and changes in our perspective can occur in our spiritual lives if we don't understand what is happening all around us. We need to focus on the things that will keep us in the straight and narrow path. While we travel on our mortal journey, we need to be aware that everyday things such as social media can enhance or decrease the amount of spiritual light we receive. I am going to take some time to review my use of social media and make sure that I am enhancing my spiritual life and not allowing it to take away from the light I seek to obtain.