Of Raptors and Revelation

Hiking with Mary one morning in Padre Canyon near St. George, I noticed a raptor (probably a falcon, but possibly a hawk) flying along the base of the sandstone cliffs searching for an updraft.  In this part of Padre Canyon the cliffs are almost totally vertical and drop about 1,000 feet from the top of the surrounding plateau.  I observed this bird for some minutes as it traversed a distance of about a quarter mile along the base of the cliffs.  Back and forth, back and forth it went, searching and seeking. 

At times it would catch a slight updraft and circle around, but inevitably end up back at the top of the trees and shrubs lining the base of the cliffs and would have to flap its wings to maintain its altitude and continue the search for a lifting air current.  Patiently it continued, being carried upward any time an updraft would provide some lift.  But still drifting back downward, unable to locate a consistent upwelling of the morning air.

As it continued the search, I saw that at last it encountered a stronger updraft and it began to tightly circle to maintain itself in that column of air, not visible to me-yet real and powerful, that could lift it upward toward the heavens.  Patiently working to consistently remain within the zone that would lift it up, it climbed gradually, but continually upward.

As I stood observing all this, I reflected on some of the messages given in our stake conference the previous two days.  A consistent theme was encouragement and instruction to do all that we can to receive revelation from God. We were reminded of the counsel from our dear prophet, President Nelson:

“In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.”

“I invite you to think deeply and often about this key question: How do you hear Him?”

“I also invite you to take steps to hear Him better and more often,” 

I pondered the parallels between the raptor seeking to be lifted up into the air and my own desire to be lifted up toward God, to hear His voice, to receive revelation.  Just as the raptor searched diligently until he found where he could be lifted up, I need to search diligently to find how and where I can hear Him better.  And just as the raptor did everything in its power to stay within that zone of uplift, carefully and consistently circling to remain there, I need to do all in my power to stay where I can be lifted up, where I can be inspired, where I can receive revelation.  

I watched as the raptor rose higher and higher, gaining 1,000 feet of elevation in a matter of minutes without even flapping its wings.  One could almost hear the echoes of modern revelation, “and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” (D&C121:46) His diligent search had brought the desired results.  “What do I need to do be where I can be lifted up?”, I asked, finding myself in an unusually reflective state of mind.  As I stood there I continued to ponder the parallels between raptors and revelation.

Rob Merrill