In the dream of Lehi ( 1 Nephi 8 ) we see that in front of the tree of life where those who follow Christ are nurtured a building, large and spacious, from there its inhabitants make fun of those who eat of the tree. There is antagonism between these two places. One, that of the tree, is of natural origin. The other, the building, is an artificial construction. There is a hidden aspect in this matter that deserves careful exploration.
In the same way, in the carving of a diamond, no edge is despised, this facet of Lehi’s vision evokes many aspects of the gospel and our life.
Before discovering the possibilities of this stone where we will put our lathe, it is necessary that we know the principle of tensegrity. This principle is interwoven in ourselves much more than we think.
Tensegrity in a few words
“A structure constitutes a system of tensegrity if it is in a state of stable self-equilibrium, formed by elements that support compression and elements that support traction …” ( Wikipedia ).
This principle is observed in nature and its designs. It has been shown that the cell has a cytoskeleton formed by filaments that balance the efforts and give rigidity and shape to the cell.
The spine is a perfect example of tensegrity.
Staying upright, as is our nature, represents a struggle against gravity. The imbalance causes undesirable pressures in sensitive places in our spine. So by compromising verticality we risk our health.
All intelligent balance, vertebrae, tendons, ligaments, muscles; It equips our spine with the ability to move successfully in the field of gravity. This system is capable of supporting weight without applying compression to vertebrae and discs. Hence the ability to absorb multiple and constant impacts without transmitting them to the delicate nerve tissue of the cord. That harmful energy is diluted like a wave in the tensegrity elastic system.
A tree or a plant is a system of tensegrity, it absorbs the force of the wind and yet does not lose its shape. By supporting it, its branches return to their original position. So it allows to preserve its integrity in an aggressive environment of multiple forces.
The facades of the large and spacious building in the 70’s
When I was young, there were mainly two forces that compromised my upright posture, that is, what I thought was right and true. Those beliefs were not just any thing, they seemed to originate in my own human complexion and naturally predisposed me to think in a special way and to maintain a successful posture against the gravitational fields that dominated the 70’s. In front of me a huge building, with two facades separated by a door. They were two aspects of my time that caused me deep concern.
The first facade
It was hard for me to ignore, when the paleontology reading related our origin as the romantic bubbling of a broth of enzymes in a lost pond. The teacher of natives, pronounced the name of our ancestors without much emphasis, like squares won in ancient times to the dark hordes of superstition. In explaining the theory of evolution , he spread his steely arguments on the blackboard, I felt them transferring me from part to part. The outlook of his story was coherent and based on fossil evidence.
Baptism of my friend Antonio Roldan, in the center
I remember vividly that period of my life. My sensation was double, on the one hand, everything caused an imbalance and joint pain in my beliefs rather acute. I was quite honest with myself back then, let’s say it was a westerner forged in the front view of the facts.
Because of that, the contact with the nectar of the evolutionary story distilled in my mind a process where there was no purpose in human life, nor was there a good beyond conventions. The only good that was recognized to the sky, was that meteorite that ended with the dominant species of dinosaurs. And our only destiny was to find happiness in that academic as well as hopeless story.
To make matters worse, he saw on television a cartoon version of what he studied at school. I told children how funny and fun it was to come from nowhere and after a while dive back into it. I could not see where the greatness of all that was.
In fact not even Plato could be a refuge. Before those skulls that made up pieces of modern man, the Phaedo or the immortality of the soul, it seemed an old and forgotten legend. I had before me a portentous building. And I did not have a stone to put on top of another.
I could hear the same demand from Satan to Moses “Son of man, worship me” ( Moses 1:12 ). Changing man by sapiens it would have been easy to prostrate and stop feeling pain (I almost did). But at the same time I could not forget my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.
I remember one morning at 6:00 before going to class, I was really distressed. Not know what to do. I considered the gospel as another construction and I wanted to build a solid building of tests 50 meters from the tree of life, so that from above I could throw my darts at those in front of me. However, I was alone and without arguments, because in the gospel there were no stones, there were only vegetables and fruit. If I threw them in my defense (instead of eating them) there would only be more laughter and mockery.
My friends in the church used to give me defensive arguments but I found them without consistency. Like that idea that the bones of dinosaurs belonged to another land, from whose materials this was made. That idea seemed so peregrina to me, that just thinking about it made me feel worse. That’s how I was that morning before I started on the way to class.
Then I opened my copy of D & C at random and found my name.
“Behold, David, I say to you that you have feared man, and you have not trusted that I would strengthen you, as you should have done, but that your thoughts have been in the things of the earth rather than those of me, your Creator, and in the ministry to which you have been called; and you have not paid attention to my Spirit, nor to those who have been appointed over you, but have persuaded you those whom I have not commanded. “ ( D & C 30: 1 )
I did not receive that morning any stone to put in my wave, for that Goliath that was roaring for months, I was simply made to notice in what things I was thinking and in what way I was doing it. Those words were a gentle therapy to correct a posture, they focused on my constitution and not on the environment.
The second facade
I was about fourteen years old at the time. Sometimes I realize that in that period my future was largely cemented.
At that time I was a member of the junior movement and later the JOC, a youth association that had the goal of making us committed to the struggle of the working class (we are in 1975, the concept of class still forged in the minds with power ). We had a collection of beliefs very close to an unrefined socialism. Ideology of great reputation for those who wished to be considered intellectuals … and I was one of them.
One of the most attractive things of the ideology, pseudo-Marxist of that time, was the vocabulary. Specialized words to describe a world exploited by capital, a class, ours that should rise. Historical materialism, class struggle, adopted a scientific language. In such a way that the discourse itself implied the acceptance of its reality.
Remembering that time, I am struck by the fact that none of our educators or leaders mentioned the idea of studying and going to university. All his eagerness was to keep us for the struggle in the trench of the working class. We from the workplace would change the reality, demanding the paradise of Eden or what is the same the control of the means of production that belong by nature to the workers. All this dialectic was accompanied by a close and solidary coexistence. We felt like family, accompanied and understood.
Because of my ease of speech, I was chosen as the head of a group of about ten young people of my age. I had to select a name. And I did it. I miss everyone the name I proposed: Betelgeuse.
They asked me what that was and why I had chosen that name.
Then I enthusiastically told them more or less the following:
Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star of the Orion constellation Its diameter is 850 million kilometers. Its mass is twenty times that of the Sun and its edge would reach the orbit of Mars.
I thought they would be delighted with my reasons.
After explaining it, the look of Toñi, one of the leaders, was strange. I think it stayed on Mars. There was a silence of incredulous glances. If I had chosen something like Che, Fidel or Bakunin by name, it would have been praise and smiles.
A wonderful star
But tell me dear reader, is not a star like that, the brightest of the constellation of Orion, and not because of its temperature, rather low, but because of its size?
The themes debated by my group were about the immortality of the soul and its effect on life. The evil of materialism. The power of the message of Jesus Christ in the transformation of man. We exposed it graphically on a mural and hung it on the wall of the meeting room.
Not even the priest, a worker priest close to this movement, responsible for the premises, was satisfied. It was too out of tune with the objectives. I would have been perfectly reflected with those who were pressing to reach a strange path. I could not avoid my drift towards the tree, that drift towards a narrow place.
They wanted to make me see that Christ was a revolutionary, the first to discard private ownership of the means of production. It was a time of battles in ideas where I felt strange, with a narration of the world alien to the interests of the majority.
When I got home I was adding stars to the Hertzprung-Russell diagram in my room. There they were like blue, yellow, white spots … Aldebaran, Antares, Betelgeuse, Sirius, the Sun, in their evolutionary positions. On the same wall, also an image of Christ painted by El Greco.
I was looking for the creator of the stars … but I did not know it. I just felt that there was something north of Lehi’s vision and it was not the building of the vain palaver I was in.
Leaving that world meant carrying a feeling of betrayal to my friends. It was hard , but I could not walk otherwise.
The gospel and tensegrity
“Give therefore to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” ( Matthew 22:21 )
This scripture, like all of them, is much more than the sum of his words. It is much more than a tip on a fiscal issue. The Savior teaches in this way the tensegrity, the balance that the saints were to have between the pressure of the obligations of the world and the pulling of duties towards God. Declaring that his kingdom was not of this world, nevertheless the savior fulfilled his duties.
In that present knot in those who accept the light yoke of Christ, where the commitment to Caesar and our duty to God converge, the tension is 0. That is why we can be in the world without being of the world.
We are vertebrates, the gospel does not endow us with an invincible intellectual shell to defeat Caesar, but a network of simple evidences. Each of them is nothing, but their whole holds any weight and challenged. Even that of a simple student of 1978 in front of an academic colossus with a lance similar to a loom roller.
That simple solution to live in gravity, which is the Gospel of Christ, structures the reality of who we are and keeps faith and hope in the center. Any other system outside that tensegrity leads to a cultured and consistent despair. To the sad consolation, that those stones and skulls ordered, polished and exact make a home for our soul. Or that this speech of sharp and deceitful words endows us with vain eloquence.
The tensor system of the gospel
Faith in Christ, hope and pure love are a continuous tensor system. If they surround the spine of each one of us, that is to say what we are, the miracle of bearing great weights takes place, since “… my grace is enough for all the men who humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then I will make weak things strong for them. Behold, I will show the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show them that faith, hope and charity lead me, the source of all righteousness. ” Ether 12: 27-28
It is this clever construction where antagonistic forces operate for our benefit, where the principle of ” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ” Romans 12 :21
I was looking for another building like the one in front, magnificent and portentous. That I could refute, like a trumpet, my science teacher, those who ridiculed me for the simplicity of my thoughts. For that I was looking for the rigidity of another discourse antagonistic to that of my rivals. With stony foundations, founded on pillars, high and heavy columns, with cornices of technical words and bombastic.
But the gospel … offered me a tree. And as for the people of Jared, light solutions “… and they built ships in the manner of those who had done before, according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and were light on the waters, as well as the lightness of a bird on the water. ” Ether 2:16
This light response like a bird reminds me of the one I received that morning before going to class, when I stopped look for stones “… your thoughts have been in the things of the earth more than in those of me, your Creator”
I did not realize that I was experiencing in my own “skeleton” in formation, the powerful forces of contention. I recognized little by little that those simple and simple filaments that the gospel wove within me and that the world despised, conformed with time the simple and resistant complexion of the saints. It accepts that “… there must be an opposition in all things. Otherwise, my first son born in the desert, could not carry out righteousness or iniquity … ” 2 Nephi 2:11
Accepting the architecture that the tensegrity of Christ proposes to us, we can observe with admiration the great wisdom of the tree model in front of the artificial stone of the building.
From the distance
We are strange beings. While the professor of naturals explained the evolutionary branch where she classified our man from Cromañon, I imagined him saying goodbye to his loved ones in a tomb excavated in the earth, adding to this food and weapons for the next life.
I imagined him clinging to that hope, that grain of sand pressed into his hand. Without anything outside to support him, just trusting in his mental complexion, that although distant, I shared. Because when I opened mine he had the same grain as him. And from the future I wanted to say: Good friend! I’m like you.
A few years ago I had a memorable conversation with two friends, Fernando and Jose Luis in Seville. We remember our challenges in youth and among them this one. Walking among the gardens of a recreational facility of the army Fernando asked me about the problem of the fossil record, which so upset me in my youth.
How did you solve this matter?
and I answered:
Well … I did not solve it. I have reached a point of equilibrium. I think the Cromañón man, the java man and all his relatives existed on earth. But I also believe in the Adam man.
Reaching that answer, believe me, has cost me a lot. And I know that it is light as a bird on the waters of the sea . But I stand erect and hopeful.
I have the impression that the world is too wide, large and unfathomable to speak. There are no buildings that contain it, although it is our inescapable duty to explain and understand it.
But that is one thing and another the architecture of our interior.
I believe that the time will come when “The Lord [will gather] in one all things” ( D & C 84: 100 ) all knowledge and its apparent contradictions will take shape in the great panorama of creation. Many we will give with the palm in the forehead and we will understand. The day will come when “… I [the Lord] will integrate my jewels, all men will know what it is that declares the power of God” ( D & C 60: 4 ). Integrate everything that is dispersed both your people and knowledge.
The agricultural doctrine
I do not have any buildings to support this. It’s been a long time since I became an agricultural being. Some time ago I gave up building something similar to that building opposite to counteract it. The doctrine of Christ is simple and based on well-understood faith, not that blind faith of apostasy. Alma teaches it very well in Alma 32 .
Our argument is not very elaborate, more than words are actions, habits and positions, how can that be explained? Even though we are not of the world, being in it is very positive for the establishment of an elastic spirituality in front of the building. Without those tensions of my youth I would not have the necessary tensegrity for today. That same dilemma extends into everything. Actually that which seems to hurt us, which is opposed to our beliefs, which seems to erase them for a logical thought. That is what gives us the opportunity to tighten our complexion , to temper a hollow and foamy spirituality, to recognize the value of the fruit, to form a musculature that supports the gravity of this world.