“I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind."
Joseph Smith—History 1:75 (paragraph 8, sentences 1-3)
This is Oliver Cowdery explaining a little bit of what it is like to encounter an angel. Seems incredible. I think about other people from the scriptures that have encountered angels/heavenly messengers, and after reading this I can kind of see more clearly why Alma the Younger changed his whole life around. It's a powerful experience, and it helps us better judge the relative insignificance of most of the things in our lives. The things that still had significance were at least partially some of the things that he mentions here: joy, peace, wisdom, perhaps beauty, majesty, glory as well, and definitely love.
I like the idea here that deception and falsehood can surround us, and build up over time, but that one "ray of glory" can wipe it all away. I have had moments like that in my life, when I felt surrounded by and perhaps even filled with so much darkness, but one glimpse from God of light was able to drive it all away instantly. I think we can all relate to this idea, even if our moment of conversion, or our dedication to God was not accompanied by an angel.
The word forever in the last sentence might be an overstatement. Absolutely, in that moment, when God drives away the darkness, you know it is something meant to be forever. And God has that power... but I think that we can see from Oliver's experience, from Laman and Lemuel, and sometimes from our own experiences, that God still allows us the individual choice of returning to darkness after choosing light. No matter how significant our experiences have been, we still retain the ability to again desensitize ourselves, to willfully block out and then eventually truly forget as we get farther and farther away from the spirit. But no matter how far we stray, or how much we forget, the truth still remains that the things of God and light are significant and powerful, and can banish the things of darkness with a thought, a word, or a breath.
Today, let's remember what is truly significant in our lives. Let's not get caught in the shadows. Let's not invite the darkness. Let's invite back the spirit, which brings remembrance, and let's remember the beauty and the power of our spiritual experiences. Let's think about the significance of our goals, and talk to God about them. Let's remember to find the joy, peace, and wisdom as we look to God to banish the darkness and as we do all we can to walk in the light.