Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Interpretation of Uchtdorf’s “A Summer with Great-Aunt Rose”

Parables are simple stories about seemingly every day occurrences. They always have a deeper spiritual meaning that is not discerned except through revelation. Christ often taught this way so that the listeners could be edified according to their level of understanding, and not be held to the higher level of responsibility/condemnation for upholding/dismissing the wisdom found therein.

Last week, when President Dieter F. Uchtdorf instructed the women in the LDS General Women’s session that he was going to be teaching us with a parable, my attention was riveted on his every word. I had many personal impressions come to me as I listened. I have since studied and pondered it every day since I heard it, and am still coming up with gems. Today, I’d love to share what I’ve discovered through study, pondering and the whisperings of the Spirit. I’d love to hear any and all insight you gained from the talk as well.

Make sure to give his talk a read or listen before you read my commentary if you haven’t heard it already!

The Summer with Great-Aunt Rose = The Spiritual AND Literal Process of Gathering Israel and becoming a Zion-like people before the Second Coming of Christ 

Eva = Christ’s Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

  • “Eva” sounds a whole lot like, “Eve” doesn’t it? Now, while I think there is an important tie to Eve, the “Mother of all living” (the Abrahamic covenant symbolic in that name), Eva represent Christ’s church. Remember how the church is always referred to as a woman throughout scripture?
  • 11 years old = The church in the Latter Days! We are living in the 11th hour.
  • Does not want to go with Aunt Rose! No Way! = The church is still reluctant to take on the spiritual and physical sacrifices necessary to become a Zion-like people and fully leave their Summer homes in Babylon.
  • She “doesn’t even know” Aunt Rose = Zion and the Church are related (birth rite through covenants and lineage), but the church needs a more intimate knowledge of Zion.

Great-Aunt Rose = Zion, A place where the pure in heart live, The Kingdom of God on Earth

  • The name “Rose” immediately made me think of Isaiah’s description of the desert blossoming as a rose in Isaiah 35:1-2. This is the heading of that chapter, “In the day of restoration, the desert will blossom, the Lord will come, Israel will be gathered, and Zion will be built up.”
  • Being a “great” aunt is significant, because that is a word used to describe Zion in scripture. See Doctrine and Covenants 97:18. 
  • Wears embarrassingly big, bright hats = a “Peculiar” people, different from the world in happy ways
  • Large woman = “Enlarge the place of thy tent”, has room for all
  • Large voice = Proclaiming the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people
  • Large Smile and Personality = Light on a hill, not hidden under a bushel 
  • Sang and laughed while she worked, laughter filled the house, happiest person Eva had ever known = Joyful, happy nature! See 4 Nephi 1:16-17 for example of happy inhabitants of Zion as well as Mosiah 2:41
  • Says, “No matter what happened in my past, MY story could have a happy ending,” then shares Christ coming and dwelling with His people as found in Revelations 21:3-4.
  • During her scripture reading sessions at night, we learn Aunt Rose (or Zion!) has an understanding of correct and incorrect choices, longs for Spiritual connection with God and Spiritual gifts, and loves goodness.
  • The things she is grateful for point to a simple lifestyle (blue jays, spruce trees, sunsets, stars), in other words - NOT Babylon, NOT materialistic things. Think Lehi’s dream and the imagery of the Tree of Life as opposed to the great and spacious building.
  • Tying shoes and walking upstairs is difficult for her = Mortality and human imperfections make things hard, but that opposition in all things is what brings a greater capacity for joy.
  • Knows God as a friend = His Sheep know His voice.
  • Never married = A virgin, waiting for the bridegroom still
  • Rose’s time of discouragement when she “did nothing for a time” = The period of apostasy

Eva’s Mother = Mother Earth, sick from sin. (See Moses 7:48)

Surgery = The literal cleansing of the Earth, and physical tribulations that have been prophesied to come before Christ’s Second Coming.

Lengthy recovery after surgery = Time after tribulations for things to “recover” (at least enough for people to be “marrying and given in marriage”) before the Savior comes again

Eva’s Father = Heavenly Father

The Creepy stalker cat = “Tares” in the church

  • The cat is grey = Not orthodox in doctrinal views or practice, muddy doctrinal views
  • Perched on a high ledge = pride, perhaps learned and self-important
  • Looking down like a hungry tiger = looking for faults and imperfections in members
  • “Stalker” = Always watching for mistakes of which he can take advantage

Leaving to go to Aunt Rose’s House = Spiritual AND Literal Gathering of Israel

  • Eva brought by her father = The process will be directed by God
  • No one Eva’s age around, lonely = spiritual separation from Babylon’s culture, often required to stand alone to stand for the right,  and physically – relatively small groups compared to rest of population
  • Lonely, countryside where houses are far apart = Physical separation from world

Enduring until end of Summer = Waiting for Christ’s Second Coming in Faith

People who crowd around Rose = Could be fulfilling this prophesy about the things that will be said about Zion in the Latter-Days (Doctrine and Covenants 97:18-21). Could also be the Spirits in spirit paradise. One to ponder some more . . .

Eva spending more time with Rose as Summer progresses = The church becoming more Zion-like as Christ’s coming gets closer 

Eva learning the difference between Sparrows and finches = increase of spiritual gifts, discernment

Eva learning about her great-great grandmother = Doing temple work/family history/connection to Spirit dead with Elijah’s promise being fulfilled that the Earth would not be wasted.

Long walks with Rose = Some individuals traveling to the New Jerusalem

Learning primitive skills that require patience and hard-work (break-making, making orange marmalade, harvesting wild elderberries, boxes of buttons for sewing) = Learning skills and spiritual gifts for building Zion

  • I thought of Brigham Young’s quote on building Zion, “Let us train our minds until we delight in that which is good, lovely and holy, seeking continually after that intelligence which will enable us effectually to build up Zion, which consists in building houses, tabernacles, temples, streets, and every convenience and necessity to embellish and beautify, seeking to do the will of the Lord all the days of our lives, improving our minds in all scientific and mechanical knowledge, seeking diligently to understand the great design and plan of all created things, that we may know what to do with our lives and how to improve upon the facilities placed within our reach (DBY, 247).”
  • And this one: “I have Zion in my view constantly. We are not going to wait for angels, or for Enoch and his company to come and build up Zion, but we are going to build it. We will raise our wheat, build our houses, fence our farms, plant our vineyards and orchards, and produce everything that will make our bodies comfortable and happy, and in this manner we intend to build up Zion on the earth and purify it and cleanse it from all pollutions. Let there be an hallowed influence go from us over all things over which we have any power; over the soil we cultivate, over the houses we build, and over everything we possess; and if we cease to hold fellowship with that which is corrupt and establish the Zion of God in our hearts, in our own houses, in our cities, and throughout our country, we shall ultimately overcome the earth, for we are the lords of the earth; and, instead of thorns and thistles, every useful plant that is good for the food of man and to beautify and adorn will spring from its bosom (DBY, 443–44). Both quotes found here.

The vibrant colors of the painting of the pioneer girl = the greater clarity and joy we will experience as we live a consecrated, Godly, Zion-like life.

Aunt Rose describing the painting with “forward and upward” movement = Translation to Terrestrial state

Eva declaring there is “No switch” from sad to happy = We will not go easily to the Second Coming. There will be hard times to endure and it will take patience with each other and a lot of work to build Zion. By focusing on what matters most, we will find joy. 

Father picks Eva UP : Translation to a Celestial State 

Eva looking back on Summer with Aunt Rose = Reflecting from heaven with fondness on the difficulties of mortality with an Eternal perspective, with family (husband and children) forever (Abrahamic covenant fulfilled). 

Eva saying she would miss, even the stalker cat = Indicates development of Christ-like charity for all, even those who don’t love her or treat her especially kindly.

Other talks that came to mind to study as I pondered:

Take-away messages:

  • Zion isn’t going to be built by living in a bunker a.k.a. fearing what is to come, or hiding your light under a bushel. Have hope and faith about living in these days that have been prophesied for all generations of time! (I recommend Holland’s a-maz-ing talk on this subject: Terror, Triumph and a Wedding Feast)
  • If you find yourself having a hard time leaving Babylon, spiritually or someday literally, you need to remember this scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:9. – the reward will be unspeakably beautiful.
  • Increase knowledge and wisdom in both spiritual and temporal things. We’ll need it all. It is ultimately all we will take with us.
  • We will find joy in making our unique contributions on Earth as we build Zion.
  • Teach others what you know is true. Be a missionary.
  • Loving others and consecrating our lives to them in Service as the Savior did, is how we will build Zion. It is the key. 
  • NOW is part of eternity. Do your part to build Zion NOW!! And find joy in it!!! That is what you were made to experience and do!!!


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