Gospel Doctrine New Testament Lesson #4Matthew 3:1–12; Matthew 3:13–17Matthew 4:1–11; John 1:35–51.

I think I have mentioned this before— the Hindi language has no word for privacy. And if there is no word— there is no concept. The concept that I have the right to have you out of my business— simply does not exist. This is hard for me. And after seven years here, I just want all billion plus Indians to act like me. (You can see the problem with this.)

And then about a week ago, it struck me: they got this down. Indians have got the baptismal covenant down.

From Mosiah 15:

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

Indians live this in very robust ways. Whenever there is any need, the individual is immediately surrounded by neighbors and co-workers and community. Ministering I have personally witnessed: a room full of women holding and crying with a mother who has lost her child, a party offering to shift location to my sick bed (no thank you), thirteen people picking up my boat to help carry it to the river, people chipping in to help a family marry off their daughter. People simply step in and help— both friends and strangers.

This, frankly, can drive me batty.

But then… my husband recently had a traumatic experience where he was hauled off in a police Jeep because the police had been paid off. (Yes, my life feels a little dramatic at times.) While he was in the back of the bouncing Jeep on the way to the station, he called our company’s liaison deputy. By the time he reached the police station, two men were already there and others had gone to the supervisor of police so he would intercede. Nothing happened to my husband because this net of safety was drawn around him. When he got home he said it was humbling to experience this “cocoon” of care. I, still traumatized, had the knee jerk reaction that I just want society’s civil systems to work without corruption so that this cocoon was not necessary. No need for a cocoon if you’re not hauled off by corrupt police in the first place!

And then, it hit me. Jesus taught us about cocoons. “Love one another as I have loved you.” The point is not to NOT need the cocoon— the point is to grow the cocoon. I had it all wrong. As I realized this a flood of memories came back to me.

I have been cocooned by Ward love at a crucial time when they showed me they believed in me. A tall home teacher offering to hang a painting because I simply couldn’t reach even on a precarious tower of stools and chairs and tippy toes. My not-of-our-faith husband wondering aloud how we were going to unpack my brother’s moving van alone— and all of us laughing. We knew that while my brother was moving to a brand new ward with people he’d never met, the ward would show up to help.

And sometimes, there is not a ward cocoon. But what I think is important to know is that divine cocooning is ALWAYS possible. When I read the verses for this lesson, what struck me is how often angels were mentioned as ministering unto Jesus. If an all-powerful God like Jesus appreciates a cocoon, surely I could too.

by J. Kirk Richards

I once gasped in awe when I saw this painting from J. Kirk Richards. The host of female and male angels who looked so noble and peaceful and yet TOUGH stunned me. This is the cocoon I have sometimes needed. To know, despite what I see around me, that I have divine assistance— even bodyguards— around me has given me peace in very trying times.

So, I no longer scorn the Indian cocoon— the amazing example of them living a covenant I have promised to honor. My question today is: how can I grow the cocoon? How can I help others in a way that works for them? How can I be part of the heavenly hosts? (I admit, I want the tawny red cummerbund….) Let’s grow cocoons— for both friends and strangers.