Too sacred to share. I’ve been thinking about that for a few days as I readied a post on my faith-science blog that for a long time fell into the category for me. I changed my mind. There was some discomfort with it because we run across the words ‘too sacred to share”, but I’m not sure what they mean. Here are a couple of uses I pulled up on a search on the Church’s web site:
From James E. Faust:
My faith continued to grow as building blocks were added to the cornerstone, line upon line and precept upon precept. There are far too many of these to be chronicled individually; some are too sacred to utter.
James E. Faust, “A Growing Testimony,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 53–54, 59
5. Be cautious about sharing personal spiritual experiences.
“There are some things just too sacred to discuss,” says President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Such experiences should not be shared, but “harbored and protected and regarded with the deepest reverence”
Richard Nash, “Telling Personal Stories,” Ensign, Sep 2002, 49
Invite the children to gather in small groups around their teacher. Have the teacher share his or her experience with prayer, and invite the children to share their own experiences, if they have some. (Remind them that some experiences are too sacred to share.)
Linda Magleby, Sharing Time: Heavenly Father Hears and Answers Prayers, Friend, July 2006
It seems from these quotes that we will know when and where we should share. But I wonder if we’ve become too shy. Some of the deepest stories from the scriptures are deeply personal and sacred.
This Sunday during Sacrament meeting someone shared a deeply spiritual experience about a visit from the other side. I haven’t heard things like that for a long time. It almost seemed out of place, but I was so moved I found myself teary eyed and blessed by his sharing. We seem to keep our visions to ourselves these days.
Reasons? I think, in part, because they often expose weakness and need in us. They often come because we have been torn asunder and needed putting back together and we don’t want people to see this part of us. The context of our sacred experience comes in moments of darkness—times of blindness, doubt, and fear. Death and darkness. Yet maybe it’s those times and events we most need to share. I don’t really care about the Ensign version of you life. I want to hear how you climbed from the darkness or if you haven’t. Admitting we were/are in fear, doubt, and despair is hard.
Another reason? Perhaps, we believe that it only applies to us. Often visions are for us alone, but who’s to say others might not benefit? My ‘vision’ of whales changed everything about me. Is there anything there for you? Are there things in your visions I could at least learn from, if not embrace?
The scriptures contain the profound spiritual experiences of others. I’m glad Paul didn’t say, ‘I had an experience on the road to Damascus but it was too sacred to share.’
What if Jared had not shared with us his doubts about crossing the water in the dark? What if Joseph had withheld the vision of the Sacred Grove; his doubts about which church to join. Note, also, that that was a deeply personal event, or at least he interpreted it that way at first, yet we’ve all been blessed by it.
When you see that I had a vision of whales I don’t expect you write this down in your Doctrine and Covenants. It’s not to give you truths about the world. It’s to share with you something about why something matters to me. About something that had a profound effect on me. Maybe you will find value in it. I risk you calling me weird. Am I afraid you will cast my perils before swine? Yes.
Too sacred to share. It’s not that I doubt such things exist. The ordinances of the temple come to mind. But I think as a people there are stories being lost that are part of the Gospel’s power and movement in the lives of people. We’ve become shy about the sacred. What if others had visions of whales? What if you were inspired to do something a little wacky to save your teenager like buying him comic books? What if something happened that would never, ever be put in the Ensign yet saved your neighbor’s soul?
And can we allow for differences in our visions? What if a member in a Japanese fishing village received a vision that told him where to hunt for whales? What would I do with that? Would that say something strange and uncertain about the Lord if our visions seem ‘uncorrelated’ or would we be blessed with a sense of the diversity of operations? Or a sense of the individual nature of God’s dealing this his children. Just a thought, because I’m trying to sort this out. Maybe we need a website called, MyMostSacredExperiences.org. Open to abuse? Certainly, but then that’s always the risk isn’t it. So what things are too sacred to share (please submit samples so that we can assess if it really was too sacred to share: just kidding I don’t want sacred experiences here, just a discussion on what the concept “too sacred to share” means and an exploration what its risks are?)