I am fortunate to have wonderful teachers in our ward at church. Our Sunday School teacher gave a great lesson today on the atonement of Jesus Christ, and how it overcomes both physical death and spiritual death (or sin).
I could not do the lesson justice by trying to recap it here, and there were too many good things to talk about in one blog post anyway (even with my ability to be long-winded). But a couple of minor things in the lesson were particularly timely for me, considering that I am only days away from a potential milestone that has been on (what's left of) my mind. My MRI is this week, and if it looks good I may graduate from treatment and just undergo monitoring.
One comment was made in the lesson about how we need not fear death, because it is part of the plan for returning from whence we came. I believe that to be true -- we all hope to go to heaven someday. We just don't want to be pulled away from our toys and our friends like the screaming toddler leaving his playgroup to go back home. But once we're safely home we realize that it's where we belong, so there is no need to fear.
Another comment was made about the straight and narrow path, which is a familiar term to many. Straight and narrow can appear on the surface to be restrictive and potentially difficult. But our teacher commented on the following passage in 2 Nephi 9:41: "O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is NARROW, BUT IT LIETH IN A STRAIGHT COURSE before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name." The teacher highlighted the point that the way is narrow -- but it lies in a straight course -- making it clear and possible to travel. Having driven the Alpine Loop in the mountains of Utah, I can appreciate the difference between something that is narrow and full of hairpin turns, and something that is narrow but straightly pointed in the direction we want to go. It's the safest and surest way to reach our destination.
And of course, the remaining portion of my mind wandered to the other straight and narrow path coming up this week for me: the MRI tube. It's definitely narrow (it would seem less narrow if I weren't such a cookie monster), and thank goodness it is straight. In fact, when I go in the tube they stick a little mirror in front of my face that is angled to show me the straight path out towards my feet (which is nicer to look at than the wall only an inch or so from my nose). I'm glad they don't have to snake me through a big tortuous pipe!
Life -- especially the right kind of life that takes us where we really want to go -- is possible for us. The way is narrow but straight, so we can make it. And my upcoming trip through the narrow MRI tube is also doable. I go straight in, pretend I'm having an elaborate spa treatment for about an hour, and come straight out. Then I have a suspensful moment (using the term "moment" very loosely, since my doctor's appointment isn't until the following day) while I wait to hear the results of the scan. That part seems less straight and narrow and more "long and winding road" (in pops Paul McCartney singing, "don't leave me waiting here"...). But it's still doable because of the straight and narrow way of life which is the plan laid out for me by a loving God. And it's also doable because my straight and narrow path of life is lined with many good people who keep me pointed forward and staying upright with their love, friendship, and many prayers.