The Back Row

The Back Row

The following is a true story although the setting is generic. The names of those involved are not important to the point of the story. In fact, they would rather not be mentioned. This is indicative of those who value truth more than the honors of men. I tell the story to illustrate the subtitle of this blog and it’s meaning. I use the story with the kind permission of the original author.

There once was a fellow who discovered a great and true knowledge. He devoured all he could from the texts and from listening to others who had also discovered this knowledge. After a time, learning became repetition.

He longed for someone who could teach him something new. Those around him said repetition was good. He did not dispute that he often learned to purify what he knew from repetition. Nonetheless, he desired more.

After a time, he heard a man speak who knew more and could teach him. For years he meekly sat on the back row digesting every morsel of newness from this man. The words of this man sent him to more study and even more knowledge. He loved the learning.

As the man taught, however, he seemed to almost dislike the audience. Our fellow could not quite put his finger on it but there seemed to be a weariness to the man. Then, one day the man announced an end to his teaching.

Most in the audience sighed the sigh of an end of easiness. The man had made learning easy. The audience did no work. The man gave them knowledge without their labor. Our fellow, however, used the man’s teaching as a springboard to study. His lament was different. He was willing to work but desired help in his direction of study. He had caused no trouble. He had simply and dutifully sat on the back row learning all he could.

After the man announced the end of his teaching, our fellow approached the man for the first time in all the years he had been learning from him. He thanked the man for his efforts and told him of his years on the back row and how wonderful they had been.

The man replied that the only reason he had stayed the last year was because of the back row.

Sometimes you can look over an audience and see who’s getting it.

I title this blog Celestial Thoughts not because my thoughts are of a Celestial nature. They do, however, work to that end. As I strain at the constraints of mortality I seek more than this crass mortal world has to offer. I seek learning of the highest order. I seek to know God—face to face. Many scriptures tell me I may. I believe them and I believe Him. I know I'm the one who needs the work. He, patiently, waits for me.

The back row, for me, is a place where I can learn without calling attention to myself. I am not one who desires the teacher’s attention for purposes of enhancing my grade. I love truth. I am certain truth exists. My desire is to gain more truth. And then give it away. One candle lighting others loses nothing in the effort but, working together, all gain greater illumination. The back row is my solace from competition and a peaceful place to pay attention and work together.

I have had many teachers. Their diligence has enriched me. I am grateful to them. If I have gained anything worthwhile from my study and experience, I offer it here. I seek no accolades. I stay not for those on the front row who seek ease.

The greatest of my mortal teachers have uniformly pointed to the Savior. He is the greatest of all my teachers. His Spirit teaches in an intimate way that allows every pebble to be acutely felt on the road to knowledge and experience. My goal seeks to grind down the pebbles with obedience, gratitude, and forgiveness on the way to the purified sands of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My pebbles continue to annoy although they do seem to become smaller with time and effort. I remember the days of boulders and can only smile at my foolishness.

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