When I was a child we had a huge blackberry hedge next the the garden at our home. Taking care of the hedge was not a huge priority so after a few years went by the hedge had turned into a forest like the wall of thorns surrounding sleeping beauty’s castle.
Happily, this massive sprawl also yielded buckets and buckets of berries. We’d lay sheets of plywood over picked areas so we could reach more branches for harvesting. Probably 20% of the harvest went straight into our mouths. We had so many blackberries that we’d give gallons away. I even remember bringing quite a few bucketfuls to the local restaurant where I worked so they could make pies, tarts, and other blackberry deserts. To this day, “blackberry” is the taste of summer for me.
I was reminded of these sweet memories today when a speaker in church talked about his own memories of picking blackberries. He talked about how he would think he was done, then he’d take a few steps to the side and suddenly realize there was a bunch he hadn’t seen. This speaker went on to talk about different perspectives.
I thought about my own experience, and how I would move the leaves aside to discover hidden bunches of juicy, ripe berries. I would always be careful when I did so, because the branches were absolutely covered in thorns. Even the underside of the leaves had hundreds of fine, cactus-like hairs waiting to strike tender fingers. Even thick work gloves could be pierced by the large, mature, woody thorns on the main stems. However, a careful hand could easily grasp the thicker stem where no thorns existed and move the branches aside, exposing more precious fruit. It just took some experience.
As I sat in church today I thought of how similar this is to gospel learning. There are so many precious gospel “fruits” to harvest. However, there are also many thorns which try to prevent us. Sometimes, just as my blackberries were hidden deeper inside the bush, more truths are to be found with a little digging, however, that kind of learning never comes without pain. I had to carefully push aside obscuring leaves, and in the search for gospel truths, there are plenty of counterfeits trying to conceal a deeper understanding.
I have been incredibly blessed in my own hunt for gospel understanding. As I struggle with my trials such as doubt or seeming inconsistencies in the church, I remember that greater understanding awaits. I have felt my heart stung on occasion, but every time, hanging on to what I already believed and deeper searching brought the promised understanding.
I testify that the principles of the gospel as taught by the LDS church lead to profound truths, greater light and understanding, and a pattern for revelation which brings us into a personal relationship with God. Answers don’t always come immediately, but they do come.