A Pilgrim’s Progression

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Pilgrim’s Progression

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. — Mahatma Gandhi

When I became nineteen I accompanied a friend on a trip to an old gutted metal mine we had heard of near a once busy junction with the colorful name of Chloride, now only a crow hop in the windy desert of southwest Arizona. It had long been abandoned by the miners who seemed to have fled suddenly (just after lunch?) without stopping to pack or arrange for forwarding of belongings.


Browsing around those hundred year old windblown shacks, smelling deeply of the acrid creosote bushes that had grown up around the unused cabins and pilings, I wondered at the grimy plates and cups left upon the tables, books and mirrors left behind, daily use clothes still upon hangers in closets without doors . . .in some cabins I found meat remains on dinner plates.

Moving through the mining area, tools were carelessly thrown, rope lay in abundance, coiled and waiting. Worker’s hats, boots and coats still hung in readiness on hooks near the long lavatory that housed filthy toilet stalls without doors. The mounds of metal dust that had hardened to become small calico-colored iron oxide hills of white and rust, were everywhere…


I had stumbled upon a forsaken community of assiduous people at work. It was a ghost camp, an entity, like a monument we visit, a museum we peruse. Those before us likely had wondered, too, as they viewed the artifacts of an industrious existence in this obscure place. It begged the question: What had really happened here that these people left so suddenly, leaving so much of themselves behind?

I still wonder about Chloride. It may be gone from the map but it remains in the terrain of my mind in a significant way. It is where I first came hard to terms with the idea that people are meant to progress in mortality through their experiences; sometimes that involves leaving behind what is familiar in favor of sudden changes in circumstances, demanding single-minded perseverance. Often this comes without our desire or control. I wonder if these are blessings in disguise. I am sure they are necessary for a soul’s flowering.

The point here is that when we are faced with significant change in our lives, it is a chance to expand our understanding of our purpose in the world and to test our faith and obedience to that divine Power which moves over us in love and which seeks to enlarge us, that we might become worthy of our rightful inheritance, mortally and eternally. Life is a constant renewal of the exercise of agency. We, as Saints, have been taught that all things typify of Christ. Using his life, death and resurrection as our examples, we can deduce that there are treasures waiting for us that are not known until the spade has turned the dirt and the hidden seeds of new life brought forth. In these seeds are waiting the precious opportunities of life for the diligent searcher to unearth. True treasure lies within our growing faith in God and His teachings, for they all lead to the continued discovering of His kingdom within the sacred privacy of our own soul.


Just as those miners who, leaving behind a secure and happy camp, turned their faces toward a sudden beckoning wind and, like some angelic seduction, followed it to a farther country with a richer soil, a more arable land. Properly planted and lovingly harvested, they will reap infinitely sweeter fruit.
From: Songs in The Spirit by Marlena Tanya Muchnick


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