Jesus spent three days with the Nephites and the Lamanites. He talked and talked. And the people listened. Every night when Jesus left, the people wondered if He would come back the next day. Or if He had run out of things to say. But when the morning came, there was Jesus again, talking and talking and talking. 

This is not surprising because Jesus was not just telling them about heaven or how to raise good kids or what his favorite color is. He was not just telling them about His life in Jerusalem or His life in heaven or his Father in heaven. Jesus was trying to tell them everything. And everything takes a while to say. He was giving the people the complete history of the world, past present and future.

This might seem really boring, but just you wait. Not only was he trying to teach the entire history of the world, He was using poetry to do it. He was saying things like:

The mountains grow old and sail away

The hills are buried underground

But my kindness is still young and not even a little dusty

And if that doesn’t make any sense to you, that’s because it’s poetry. And one of the only things children find more boring than adults talking about history, is poetry. 

And so you might think that Jesus told the kids to run along and play. But that’s not what happened. Quite the opposite. Jesus had the kids help. He blessed their hearts and their minds so that they remembered heaven, and Heavenly Father, and Jesus, and they knew all about the world and it’s beautiful, terrible, inexpressible history. 

And the children began to talk and talk and talk, just like Jesus. They became the teachers. And all the adults listened. And eventually, after a very long time, everyone understood everything and it all made so much sense. And so they went to write it down so that no one would ever forget. 

But they couldn’t. It was impossible to write. There were not words good enough to describe heaven or God or Jesus. There were not sentences long enough to explain eternity or love or power or priesthood. There was not paper, or pencils, or rocks, or metal plates enough to contain the history of the world. In short, they could not shrink the history down without ruining it. It was like a large balloon, the smallest prick would pop it. It was even too large to fit entirely into their hearts or their minds. And so the only way to keep it on the earth was by securing it between them like ropes holding down a very large hot air balloon.

It was held by fathers and mothers, children and grandchildren, Nephites and Lamanites. And it bound them to each other like a spider’s web or like branches of a tree, or like chains welded together. And it was this shared memory they carried, that allowed them to do something that no one had done in a very long time. They created Zion.

Zion, another definition

Zion is where people understand each other. People make sense in Zion. And the world makes sense. And heaven makes sense. And God makes sense. And you and I make sense. And because we all make sense, there is peace.

We do not live in Zion. And at least one of the reasons is because we do not know what the Nephites and Lamanites knew. They tried to carry the knowledge for as long as they could. But eventually, there were not enough people to hold the balloon down, and it floated away. And with it, Zion. And that is very sad.

But there is also some hope in knowing this story. Because if we are being mean or other people are being bad, at least part of the reason is because we don’t understand something. Something very important. Something that would help us love them better and help them love us better.

And there is also hope, because of the children. Because when Jesus blessed the children, they remembered everything. It was all there, inside of them. They had only forgotten. And we are all like those children. There are memories inside of us. Memories from before this life. Memories we don’t remember. And the best we can do is pray that Jesus will bless us, like He blessed the children, to remember. 

And when He does, we can open our mouths and raise our eyes and our voices to heaven and sing. And the song will echo over the rocks and the towers and the desert land. And others will sing, and our voices will reach across the earth like ropes of a big hot air balloon. And we will hold those ropes together. And we will not let go until the world rises with us.


All artwork by Lauren Blair.

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One thought on “Zion and the big balloon (3 Nephi 20-26)

  1. I love the definition of Zion and the call to all of us to seek to understand and hold on to each other to lift the world.

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