"...the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them" (Mosiah 2:1).
I feel like I want to really prepare myself for General Conference this year. Mosiah 2 seems to provide a detailed pattern for that preparation.
The first thing that the people do in preparation to hear from King Benjamin is they gather together throughout all the land. At that time, it was a physical gathering. This year, for me it will be both a physical and a spiritual gathering. We have family reasons for most of my kids and I to gather in Utah on General Conference weekend. It will be the first time that some of us have seen each other in over two years. As I write this, I wonder if there is significance to our being able to gather on precisely this weekend. It fits the pattern in Mosiah 2, and that makes me happy.
There is also a spiritual gathering, as differentiated from a virtual gathering. I will be part of the virtual gathering whether or not I prepare in advance. But I feel an invitation to a spiritual gathering ahead of time. So what does that look like? I guess the best way to figure that out is to contrast it with a spiritual scattering, of which I see ample evidence around me. So much of public life has become divisive that political differences are eroding our relationships and the harmony of our wards. I feel that in order to spiritually gather, it would be well to give those divisive issues a rest and focus my attention during the week preceding Conference on those anchoring truths about which we agree. I'm realizing that I agree on different anchoring truths with different people. So what I need to do is celebrate shared truths in all of my relationships without engaging in any "us vs them" discussion.
Next is going up to the temple. That's taken some doing, but after looking through several temple schedules, I've found one available sealing session that we can attend. It's now booked.
Mosiah 2:3 talks about the people making sacrifices and offerings. This was part of their temple worship. My temple worship does not involve the same level of sacrifice. Instead, the sacrifice I feel to make is to consecrate that preceding week to Conference preparation, including taking a break from all the contention. After realizing that I need to refrain from "us vs. them" conversation, I've already caught myself launching into that kind of conversation. This is going to take concerted effort.
Mosiah 2:4 talks about their giving thanks to the Lord for:
1. His guidance to where He had called them;
2. Deliverance from their enemies;
3. Just leaders (teachers and king);
4. Peace in the land;
5. Being taught to keep His commandments;
6. Resulting joy and endowment of love towards God and all men.
All of these blessings also exist in my life. I've been working to maintain a daily practice of listing 10 things I'm grateful for every night. I've noticed that when I get busy, retire late and neglect my gratitude list, I'm not as happy. When I find at least 10 things to be grateful for every night, I tend to carry a little bubble of joy around in my heart. So I want to be very faithful about my gratitude list. I also want to listen to the testimonies of the Brethren and their Hear Him messages.
I'm leaving tomorrow morning, early. Looking forward to a concerted focus this week on the things that unite and on the foundations of my faith.