Think of the people you’ve interacted with in the past week. Some friends, I hope, but also probably some people you can’t stand, some you have to put up with, some you try to ignore, a few who might be genuine enemies or threats, and a host of people you really didn’t notice or maybe even couldn’t care less about. How different would this week have been if the Lord had lifted “the veil of forgetfulness” from your mind, allowing you to recall your pre-mortal existence as a spirit, one of God’s many sons and daughters, waiting for this precious opportunity of mortal life?
Imagine the veil being lifted and finding out that all these people around you are people you knew before. What if you knew them so well and for so long that you were at least as close to them back then as you are with any of your best friends now? To get even more extreme (and perhaps completely incorrect), what if you could see that everyone around you was actually a “best friend” from before, people you loved intensely, knew well, and shared common hopes and dreams with?
I struggle to even pose the question because I find the implications to be troubling, overwhelming. When I fail to treat any human being with love and even joyous warmth, am I slighting a best friend?
When that cab driver asks me for my cloak for what clearly should be a half-cloak fare and I get irritated and object instead of giving him twain, am I missing a chance to show compassion to a dear friend in financial trouble? (Travel tip: Always bring extra cloaks when using cabs!)
When I am curt with yet another telemarketer offering me the rare opportunity to participate in a free survey, am I making life a tad more unpleasant for someone that the real me once loved?
So what if we could remember who all these people around us are and recall joyous relationships that persisted far longer than any of our mortal lives? Would that change how we treat others and respond to them? I think so, but struggle to cross that bridge. It’s a question, though, that might help remind us of the practical challenge posed by that Mount Everest of human accomplishment – no, that’s not right, for it is a mountain far higher that no human can climb alone, a mountain of divine, not human accomplishment that we are all called to scale: Mount Charity.
Part of the challenge is that it is not enough to have charity for a few selected people. The divine call is to love everyone, to recognize the divine origins of every human soul and our common relationship as sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who wants us all to return to His presence, through the grace of His Son, and perhaps with a little help from our friends.