The bridge from Onida starts from the reassuring shore that a «I believe», the latter phrase that places us in the common ground of other beliefs and in that of assumptions.
Personally there are aspects of the gospel in which I can sustain a simple «I know», but no less clear.
However life is a large and spacious field, and the citadel of the soul feels the siege of this predatory universe on all its flanks. We do not have enough «I know» for each tower and for each battlement. We must recognize that, even in the fullness of the gospel, we must humbly and constantly go to the simple «I believe» of our faith.
I am often surprised to find the doubts of my youth, those that I thought defeated, return with an increased vigor. Then I go back to recover my old «I know» and still hold my «I believe». Few of us are exempt from this battle .
One of them is the prophet Jacob. In his writings he tells us about the futile attempt of a character named Sherem to destroy his faith, since “…I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.” (Jacob 7:5)
However, in his last words of farewell, Jacob shows us that his knowledge does not exempt him from the fight that is common to all of us, from the siege of the facts on the rugged relief of the earth, «… our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days» ( 26 )
In short, most of our time, most of us, we hold more by faith than by an accurate knowledge. Even though we would wish (of course) to be on the side of Thomas who touched a resurrected side «… Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.» ( John 20:29 )
The hill of Onida
Believe without seeing is a construction activity with materials that do not belong to this world. That is why it is so difficult to describe the building of faith. And that’s why it’s so hard for the rich to build a bridge from Onida.
In Onida we find an answer to the mystery of faith, that substance foreign to our world.
The prophet Alma, when going out to his ministry, preaches to the Zoramites, but they do not listen to him, however «… after much labor among them, they began to have success among the poor class of people» ( 2 )
«as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah, there came a great multitude unto him, who were those of whom we have been speaking, of whom were poor in heart, because of their poverty as to the things of the world.. « ( Alma 32) : 4 )
The things of the world in which those Zoramites were poor were especially their clothes, «for behold, they were cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel—» ( 2 )
That poverty of clothes always reminds me of the poverty of our » expert evidence » before the judgment of the world. I remember vividly when I was young and they asked me about the whereabouts of the gold plates, a recurring theme that persecuted me without respite. I felt compelled to follow the direction of the question.
As expected, ended in a mess that came out very poor clothes because I could not dress decently, for an unbelieving public, no argument without using faith as a fabric.
The saints and their clothes
Even today, after many brilliant studies on the Book of Mormon, we can not provide an expert evidence of its authenticity, but circumstantial evidence. And these are not enough for a world away from good faith.
We are a people with a great message, but we do not have demonstrations, only the Alma 32 experiment . To be poor in this world, is also to live without the clothes of this world, to be dispossessed of their stories or the theories with which most of humanity dresses.
That is a kind of clothes poverty. The saints of the last days have a vanguard position, because although our garments are decent, we are not admitted to the synagogue as to those Zoramites. Because we admit faith in the word as a source of knowledge and clothing and as those said … «It is not reasonable for such a being to come as a Christ …» therefore, to dress his clothes is also to carry his cross.
I suppose, dear reader, that you will also have felt that poverty of clothing at some stage of your life. Maybe you and I have ever been to Onida. Even being young … or especially at that stage.
The dark words
The words of Alma in Onida, are «dark» words . I use this adjective in the sense that they are not visible to the naked eye. They come with their pavilion ( D & C 121 ) that hides them from the natural eye, and only see those who consider themselves naked in the world. It is difficult to feel poor and naked when you have everything you need, that’s why Alma recognizes that «… I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed» (14 )
The words of Alma come from the pavilion that covers their hidden abode , they carry the stamp of origin. The gospel comes from that place and tells us about things that are not seen and that are true. And that is a contradiction for anyone who wants to wear that attire and be accepted in the «synagogues» of the world. It is necessary to be poor to understand that, so «… it is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom «( 12 )
I have come to moderately appreciate what once mortified me. Yes, that situation of traction and compression. To wish to be one more of the synagogue, but to be despised by the poverty of my clothes. Somehow being forced to be humble, makes us wise, at least we know our condition, «… And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth …» ( Mosiah 4: 2) ) To reach this conclusion, for some, may require a lifetime, even with the help of old age.
We can enjoy that painful moment where, in the chalice of our interior, the Lord turns our water into wine, where he multiplies our few loaves and fishes.
To relate to the hidden pavilion requires being in Onida, and in that place the sumptuous robes are incompatible.
Dark and refined matter
We can see an attitude of humility in those researchers of the dark matter of the universe, that unknown matter that represents 96% of everything that exists, recognizing that they do not know what they are looking for, that they do not know what it is, that they can not see. Somehow, in their own way, in their words, in their gestures, they bend the knee even if they do not confess Christ.
In the same way, the humble Zoramites of Antonium were without knowing Christ, humble despite their desire to be admitted to the synagogue. Alma realizes «I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye. « ( 8 )
This dark and refined matter is foreign to us, we do not know its constitution, nor its origin. It is very big and thanks to it we exist. The stars and our bodies would not have formed without their influence. However, it does not interact with us. That indifference is almost insulting in the minds of those in sumptuous clothes.
Also faith is like that, I could almost say that it belongs to that order of things.
The bridge from Onida
Faith is an ungraspable subject (adjective, which can not be taken). Like dark matter, we know that it is there because of the influence it produces in our lives and when we try to define what it is we encounter difficulties.
In the same way that this matter is the skeleton of the Universe, what has shaped its shape and the properties of stars and planets. Faith, though ungraspable, has given form to humanity, despite being cast out of the modern synagogues of our particular land of Antonium.
We would not have been able to develop the epoch of reason without the substratum of faith, who has given a consistent skeleton to the powerful musculature of our world.
Faith is the dark matter of man, around it emanate the ages of humanity.
From this hill, which is the humility in Onida, Alma prepared the Zoramites who wanted it to obtain the faith.
And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.(21 )
Here Alma teaches us what faith is not, but it does not teach what it is. It tells us that when we have faith, we have hope. However, that does not answer the nature of faith.
The matter of faith
Since it is not an [imperfect] knowledge of things either. A logical question would be: if faith is not perfect knowledge, why do we need it? In our world if something is not perfect, then it does not mesh, it does not turn on, it does not transmit, it is not bought or it is not sold. It is returned to the manufacturer.
«Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.. « (17 )
Is there something wrong with this? If they replace signal, by license; heaven by city council and we will believe by buying, we could read «[If you show us a license from the town hall, of course we will know later; and then we will buy]. Tell me, does not that make sense? It is the logic that reigns in a fallen world, it can not be denied that these Zoramites used a scientific way of thinking. «Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. » (18)
That way of thinking about things is common to all of humanity, including us. In everyday tasks, we operate with the automatic pilot of the reason. This is the one that deals with visible matter most of the time.
Alma uses faith as a hoe, describes it in its usefulness, not in its constitution. He describes it as the force that separates the land to plant, it is an agricultural activity. Faith is not reasonable, but it makes room in our real life, putting aside reason … to deal with invisible things … with the words on the other side. That is not reasonable.
We can see in Onida
We can see in Onida, that as faith opens the furrow of knowledge, it gradually fades away. When we are close to seeing it, it is gone. Alma’s experiment only serves the one who tries it. It is not conclusive for other observers.
Faith is a skill of the heavens and belongs to them. Our language, oriented to visible objects, has a hard time dealing with it. That is why he speaks of it in parables. The nature of faith, of that bridge that is born in Onida, is described by hidden words, «verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. « ( Matthew 17:20 ) Why this comparison? Considering that who made it, now walks on a pavement of pure gold of the color of amber, in a concrete world, I wonder can it be measured? Do you have strength? However, we can not define it because it is something «dark».
«… According to your faith be it unto you.» ( Matthew 9:29 ). To a woman whose daughter lay tormented … «O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.» ( Matthew 15:28 )
Faith in its purity
In the first Corinthians there is a curious return to the pure concept of faith as something «I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing» ( 13: 2 ) We see here how he describes that hoe , in itself useless if it is not used according to Christ.
The Savior’s description of the faith is different from that described later by the apostles. They focus their faith on Christ, he is the consummate of their faith. However, the Savior speaks of her as something external to her person, she speaks as if she were a substance, the
prophet Jacob, born in the desert and educated in him. He speaks to us about faith in a non-«contaminated» way. «Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea. « ( Jacob 4: 6) Here is how the result of unwavering faith, can change the things we see.
Faith, independent resource
I intend to emphasize that faith is something strange, it is not an attitude or a belief. That is the apparent, it is its manifestation, what accompanies it. We can say that faith belongs to the kingdom that is behind that hidden pavilion, that we can acquire it and use it. That is powerful and is independent of our world. That it is a resource of the heavens, just as the atmosphere is of life. It is something that belongs to that place that we try to find or define and that we can not because it is a parallel reality.
As we learn in Onida, our disposition is crucial to obtain it. Our way of dealing with the invisible, our angle of entry, our hope, our clothes … all this influences their detection.
Being a student, I was about seventeen, sitting on the steps of a building with some friends, I had the opportunity to give my testimony. I did not begin to testify by saying «I know» I simply spoke of my beliefs, almost without stopping to formulate what I was saying.
Without realizing it, there was silence (something impossible, you can believe me) I said that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that I believed in the Book of Mormon. I still do not have an explanation of what happened knowing the ideas of my friends. Something happened in that place, I felt it, I almost got scared.
For a moment I can almost assure you that everyone knew what he was saying was true. We were surrounded by something strange, For a moment you can understand that kind of imperfect and different knowledge.
I got up, I said goodbye and left. While I was walking I was afraid of receiving some mockery at my back. But there was only silence.
A single particle, like a mustard seed, started the restoration.