This is a story about the two cities of the Zoramites. The first city has large brown homes, tall silver statues, gray fountains, pink gardens, green grass and rainbow colored churches. And when you walk into that city, your eyes get big and you look from side to side and up and down because everywhere, everything you see is big and bright and beautiful—even the people!
And tucked into the shadows and corners of this big beautiful city is the second city. The homes in this second city are very small, and very dirty. If you were visiting the Zoramites, you would probably miss this place, even though it would be right under your nose. Everything looks duller, and smaller, and a little uglier here—even the people. They sit together under the big trees that hide their houses from the road so that they will not burn up in the hot sun. But some of the people are missing. They are away in the big shiny city, cleaning the homes, building the statues and fountains, weeding the garden, mowing the grass, painting the churches.
If you are wondering who built the big shiny city, these are the people. These are the people who take care of it, and make it beautiful. These are the people who fix it when it breaks. And these are the people who aren’t allowed to live in it, or even to walk into the churches, because they are too poor, too dirty, too ugly.
When Alma came to teach the Zoramites after they let Korihor die, he walked right past the poor people. He didn’t even notice them. He walked into the gate, wiped his forehead of sweat, and began looking for a church so that he could begin to tell the people what they had done wrong. It was easy to find because it was big and tall and bright like the sky.
On his way, he walked past large homes, statues, and fountains. He passed the rich people out in the sun. They were tanning and drinking pink lemonade by their swimming pools. And they were not interested in what Alma had to say. He tried to teach them in church. They did not listen. He tried to teach them in the streets, they did not listen. So he climbed to the top of a hill so that he could see the whole city, and still they did not listen.
He was about to give up when he heard a shallow voice, like a child’s, say, “Excuse me.” Alma turned around. And behind him were all the people he had walked past without even noticing. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t notice you there.”
“Don’t worry,” they said. “It happens a lot. But if you don’t mind, we would like to hear what you have to say.”
And the first thing Alma noticed about the people is that they were poor. This was obvious because they smelled bad because they didn’t have clean water and so it was very hard to wash their hair.
They said, “We know we are poor, but that is just the start. We are also weak, and small, and not very clever at all. They call us filthy. And we are filthy. There are so many things we can’t do.” And they began to tell Alma all the things they can’t do.
We cannot fly.
We cannot do calculus.
We cannot fit one hundred grapes into our mouths.
We cannot run very long without getting tired.
We cannot live forever.
We cannot fit our hand in a tea cup.
We cannot multiply 134 by 1225.
We cannot play the accordion.
We cannot talk to horses or lizards or bugs.
We cannot do 100 push ups.
We cannot go one year without getting sick or even one day without getting hungry.
And there are about one million other things we cannot do.
Alma said, “That is okay. That is called being humble.”
Humble, a definition
To be humble is to be helplessly in need of help. Which is to say, to be human. Sometimes we forget that we are human because we live in a city with statues and walls and rainbow churches. And we think we have everything under control. And sometimes a big earthquake or a virus or an asteroid reminds us that we are still human. And that we do not have everything under control.
Alma said, “I’m glad that you are humble. It’s good to be humble. But you are doing something wrong. You are feeling sad and bad about yourself. Just because you are humble and helplessly in need of help doesn’t mean you are bad, or filthy, or worthless.
Put your hand on your chest. Do you feel a thump-thump-thumping? Inside of your chest is a heart. You can feel it. It pumps and pumps and brings good red blood to your arms, your feet, your head. But you cannot get to it. It’s locked inside of your body.
But lucky for you and me there’s someone who can reach straight through your body and into your heart. That person is God. And He already has. He has already reached into your heart and put something deep inside there. It’s small and simple and fragile. It is like a seed.
And inside of the seed is a little bit of Himself. It’s called The Word. And it’s small now. So very very small. But now that you know it’s there, you can start to take care of it. Like you give plants water and light, you can give this seed love and trust, and then it will start to grow just like a plant does. And you will begin to feel it filling up your body.
The Word is already growing inside of you. It might seem scary that part of God is growing inside of your own chest. But don’t worry. You don’t need to be afraid of God. Because when this seed grows and fills you up you will begin to feel strong, and capable, and loved. And you will learn to trust that love. And you will learn that it doesn’t matter so much that there are a million things that you can’t do, because God is with you. And you will say, God, this seed that you have planted in my heart is delicious. And you may worry that it will stop growing someday, that there will be no more space and that it will shrivel up like trees in wintertime. But don’t worry. God is big enough to turn the whole world into His garden.
And you will see that even though other people don’t notice you, God has known you since before you were born, and he has loved every bit of you. And you will see that even though other people call you filthy, God calls you Child.
All artwork by Lauren Blair.
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