Portable blessings

In disposing of their parents' estate following their deaths, family members were made acutely aware of the transitory nature of mortality and its material assets.

Furniture, appliances and other household items, which once had been so vital to the deceased couple, were now dispersed among children and grandchildren, given to a thrift store or simply discarded. The home and lot were sold for their market value and the proceeds distributed among the children. Greeting cards and other mementos, retained many years simply for their sentimental symbolism, were destined for the trash bin, as they could never hold the meaning for the surviving family members that they held for the parents.

Certain it was that things once treasured were now of no further use to their departed owners. An oft-uttered cliche came to mind: "You can't take it with you."

That is true enough — as it pertains to material wealth and possessions. But a moment's reflection is all that is necessary to realize that some of the things we acquire in mortality are portable blessings, as they might be called, and include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

Our physical bodies. Christ's sacrifice gives us reason for faith and expectation that, following a period of separation of body and spirit, we will regain our physical bodies. Moreover, glorified bodies will not be subject to the maladies, imperfections and deformities that attend mortality.

The prophet Alma expressed one of the precious and fundamental principles of the gospel when he taught: "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame" (Alma 40:23).

Our intelligence. In a teaching later canonized as scripture, the Prophet Joseph Smith declared: "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

"And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come" (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18).

While knowledge in a wide range of fields is valuable (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:78-80), the foregoing passage implies that the most important kind of intelligence is of a spiritual nature — that which we acquire through obedience to the commandments of God.

The relationships we form and foster. Chief among these, of course, are the relationships within our own immediate and extended families. The experience we have in mortality within families provides a transcendent and profound bond that will be integral to our future state of existence as we inherit "thrones, kingdoms, principalities and powers" (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:19) as joint-heirs with Christ of all that the Father has (see Romans 8:17; Doctrine and Covenants 84:38).

The relationships could include those with souls we have never met in this life: namely those spirits who are likely to greet us with joy, love and thanksgiving because, for them, we have served in the role of "saviors on Mount Zion" by making the ordinances of salvation accessible to them (see Obadiah 1:21; Doctrine and Covenants 103:9).

Our capacity for love. In listing numerous spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul identified charity — defined by Moroni as "the pure love of Christ" (see Moroni 7:47) — as the greatest among the gifts of the Spirit. Paul's discourse in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 implies that the need for most gifts of the Spirit will conclude with the end of mortality, but "charity never faileth." And Moroni declares that "whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."

Since these and other portable blessings are the only ones that will remain with us in the eternities, it follows that we should do all we can to acquire, foster, reverence and retain them. Perhaps that is part of what Christ admonishes us in saying, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Matthew 6:20).