I have just returned home after enjoying the company of church brothers and young men in an annual "Super-Activity" retreat to Lake Powell for almost a week. It is a place I have always wanted to go and experience. I serve as Young Men's President in my ward, and this trip was a culmination of months of planning; it was great fun, lots of bonding moments, very hot, and all worth it.
We camped on the east shore of Warm Creek Bay, and thanks to a rather uncomfortable cot, I was often awake for the morning's very first light. Looking west, I repeatedly watched the face of Castle Rock, a monolythic mound of sandstone shaped somewhat like that island castle in France, light up like a celestial city across the wide calm of blue glass water. A couple days into the trip I hiked up to a sandstone ridge overlooking the camp and the bay for a better view.
The top of the sandstone ridge was fascinating and the stone tended to cleave in rather flat columns of various widths and lengths, but in very regular obtuse and sharp angles. As I was admiring all the beauty around me, I saw a particular shaft of stone that was fairly thick and over three feet long. In a moment of inspiration I knew what I wanted to do: I erected it lengthwise and gathered other stones around its base to secure it from toppling over. It was a symbol to me of the strength of manhood and the creation all around me.
To further make the point, I gathered smaller stones and arranged them on the top head of the tall stone in a deliberate ejaculatory representation. This was an offering of praise from me to my Father above. Then something interesting happened. As I was walking down the hill from the ridge I met another brother who was headed up to the ridge. Suddenly I experienced feelings of shame and embarrassment! I offered to go with him and deftly decoyed him away from my monument.
As I was thinking about this later in the day, I reflected on how we tend to hide the things that are significant and sometimes difficult to us, particularly man to man. And yes, we should make choices and act within the bounds the Lord has set, but should we be so shy about what we're feeling, even if it is out there on the fringes? As I analyzed my discomfort of almost being "discovered," I realized that the fear was mostly that of being mis-interpretted. I was not raising a hedonistic phallus to call the world to pleasure; I was being a man that was simply glad to be a man. Funny how something so simple could be overlooked and then overcome by fear of ridicule by the very brothers I was growing close to at the camp.
The next day I went up to the ridge to tear down my alter. But when I got up there, I just couldn't do it. I felt it best to remove the obvious suggestions that could misrepresent my intentions, and instead made with the round stones a representation of the Sun, with rays projecting from the center. And down at the base of my alter I again made several additions: several sharply triangular stones pointing up representing truth and higher knowledge, a heart-shaped stone I found nearby placed on top of a red womb-shaped stone, and yes, a smaller phallic representation of man's creative ability.
This redesign signified to me putting things in better order: on the top of the stone, an acknowledgement of the source of light in our lives, and below at different levels, the needs of men and women to find happiness and purpose in life.
If and when someone discovers my alter to the Son God, granting the elements do not obliterate its symbolic effects, would it still be mis-interpretted? Probably. But I didn't make my alter for them. I made it for me, to say what I wanted to say to my Father in Heaven. If someone stumbles upon it in the near future and is disgusted by anything about it, that is for them to sort out. I am now comfortable with that and any other outcome.