|Gathering? Image here.|
The Gospel, in the end, is all about self-selection. We all choose where we end up, when it comes right down to it. But this principle doesn't just apply in the eternities. It applies right now.
We see it in action every single day.
This is why people become friends, or drift apart. This is why people join certain groups and not others. We all yearn to be with other people like us. We seek it out. And when we find ourselves surrounded by people that are not like us, we get uncomfortable and seek a way out.
This is why it is so telling that "charity seeketh not her own." The pure love of Christ transcends the gathering instinct--it is what inspires selfless acts of love towards people that don't belong in a person's in-group. When charity is lacking, it is evident in society because society itself fractures.
And yet, though charity reaches out to others who do not necessarily have charity, there is a time when even charity draws the line and exits the scene. At some point, Lot leaves Sodom and Gomorrah and Brigham Young leads the Saints West and Moses takes the Israelites from Egypt and Nephi and the Brother of Jared escape to a promised land. There's a time for selfless mingling, and there's a time for gathering.
Gathering, Respect, and Standards
One thing that I've been considering is the idea of respect. When I was growing up in the good old 90's, it seemed like the worst thing that could happen was if you got "dissed," the slang term for "disrespected." Everyone wants to be respected.
The problem is that everyone has different standards. Some people have high standards and some people have low standards. In the end, most of these standards come down to behavior. Some people think it's okay to act this way or that way, and some people think it is not okay to act this way or that way.
When people with different standards interact closely, tension is bound to arise. People with high standards may feel disrespected when people with low standards act in a way they deem inappropriate (even if the people with low standards are not intentionally being disrespectful); people with low standards may feel judged based on their behavior when acting around people with higher standards, and take their feelings as a sign of being disrespected (even if those with higher personal standards are not actually judging). No one likes the feeling of being disrespected, and so eventually parties with different standards separate. This kind of gathering happens with or without a "Call Out" or anything like that. This kind of gathering is happening today.
Gathering in groups, gathering in the church
Birds of a feather flock together, as they say. This will become even more true as world events become more polarizing. You may see cliques of people in your ward or community. You may see people dividing along racial, political, religious, or philosophical lines (or all of the above!). You may experience such a polarization within your own family: close friends and family members voluntarily disassociating with the rest of you because of these polarizing differences.
We are all gathering to places that feel "right." When some place no longer feels right, we move on, or suffer the consequences of deeply-seated spiritual discomfort. This has always been true, but is getting more true, again, as things get more and more polarized in the world in every way.
Gathering by light
Another energy healer I work with sometimes once mentioned the concept of light and darkness: they are allergic to each other. When people with a lot of light interact with people with a lot of darkness, there is an obvious polarity and rapid gathering to opposite places. This can be true even of people with a lot of inner light, who merely have allowed a bushel to come over them. The overall projection of light and darkness appears to be the important thing. A person with a lot of inner light who has embraced a bushel of fear will not always feel very comfortable in the presence of someone with a lot of inner light and no bushel. Often those types will prefer to congregate with others of the same type.
Who are you gathering with?
Who are you gathering with? Who are the people you are being drawn to? Why are you being drawn to them? Who are you being repelled from? Why?
Where, geographically speaking, are you feeling called? Are you feeling called to a place or called from a place? Why?
Sometimes the whys evade us. Sometimes they are part of the mysteries of life we have to wait to understand until we get there. Sometimes the whys are very clear. Sometimes understanding the whys helps us understand ourselves and speed along the lessons we need to learn.
Maybe you don't feel like you are being gathered at all. Maybe you have no local friends who feel the way you do about things. Or maybe you just don't know how those friends feel because they don't want to talk about it. Or because you haven't asked. Maybe being gathered still feels theoretical, rather than very, very literal.
What does it mean to be gathered?
Does gathering mean you have to be with other people? Is gathering literal or figurative? Can you be "gathered" and still be the only person you know locally who shares your interests or opinions or faith? Questions to consider.
My personal opinion is that God gathers us all to the places we need to be, when we need to be there--and sometimes, people are "gathered" to places where the only people they are gathered with are their own families.
Internet dictionaries offer varying definitions for the term "gathered;" one definition of "gather" is to "collect from different places," and another definition is to "harvest." I think overall we're not being harvested yet, but we are definitely being collected from different places--however that means to us in our individual situations.
When we gather together in the Lord's name, it doesn't matter if there are only two of us. People gathered together in God's name have Him in their midst.
We don't need to feel like we should be waiting for a "call out" to gather; we need to realize that we are already gathering. The gathering has already begun, and every time we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, we are allowing ourselves to be gathered further.
Taking off our metaphysical bushels of fear and allowing our inner lights to shine will allow for a much more positive gathering experience as we gather with others who are unafraid to share their love of the Gospel.