Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pioneer Day, Pioneer Heritage

OK, so hopefully I have not missed the chance to post on this day! Pioneer Day is celebrated here in Utah July 24th! It is a state holiday in which all the area businesses are closed and there are parades and picnics and fireworks---fireworks that rival those on July 4th! At least that is the way it used to be. This evening, though, for the first time in years, the city did NOT set off fireworks. Evidently, it is now considered an affront to celebrate such a "religious" holiday. There are those that are not "MORMON" and do not share the legacy of faith and sacrifice exhibited by the pioneers that settled this state.

You know, it really is not at all about religion---at least it doesn't have to be. I think that any group of people that served humanity as well, should absolutely be honored. I happily celebrate other holidays that are not exclusively my own or relate to my own heritage. I wear green on St. Patrick's Day and I am neither Catholic or Irish! BUT, I can get just as excited about going "green" as anyone else! Why is it that we are all so very easily offended by other's beliefs and traditions? Why can we not all be happy for the distinct heritages and, as a courtesy, be tolerant and polite and be genuinely happy to honor and celebrate with other cultures, people and religions--- those fore bearers that have given us whatever honorable legacy that they have?

I am so very proud and feel a great sense of reverence for my own pioneer heritage. I am in awe of the multitude of sacrifices and the legacy of faith and perseverance. There are so many lessons that the pioneers left for us all---whether we are their direct descendants or not!

For instance, did you know that the Mormon Trail was improved upon by each company that used it, for the express purpose of making the trail more passable and pleasant for the next group to traverse its path? That is in stark contrast to the California/Oregon Trail. Those travelers, bent upon seeking their own fortunes, and so filled with greed, were intent to prevent any future travelers from ever making the journey---or at least they were willing to destroy the path and make the journey far more arduous. In this day where sacrifice and concern for others seems to be so very rare, I feel it is imperative that we hold aloft that pioneer behavior as an ensign to all people. How wonderful it would be if we had far more individuals that were willing to emulate that type of behavior. All of society benefits when we focus on such positive role models. Isn't it these type of morals and values that we desperately need to inculcate in our youth of today? How do we do that UNLESS we honor and celebrate those who have shown such character---not just in a time of ease and luxury, but, during some of the most difficult and trying times of privation and struggle? Believe me, the pioneers did not have a life of ease, and yet, most did, in fact, exhibit the greatest kind of self-sacrifice and concern and character imaginable!

Many left well established, comfortable homes and communities. Many were forced out into the winter cold to suffer, and some died due to the cruel, harsh exposure to the bitter elements. They had no idea where they would eventually settle. They just knew they were to head west, following their newly appointed Prophet and leader, Brigham Young. And, in spite of the most severe persecution and hostile treatment---many lost their homes to deliberately set fires, or they were driven at gun-point, from their lands---none of the Mormon Pioneer's sought to return evil for the evil way in which they were treated! They submissively left home, lands and possessions in order to seek a haven in the west where they could worship GOD and peacefully live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember that when they fled the Midwest, there were no Walmart stores, no 7-Eleven convenience stores with which to purchase needed supplies! They had to rely on the Lord, and upon their wits and they were so very creative in meeting their needs!

Again, I say, I am in awe of the great sacrifices and the great courage, strength and perseverance exhibited daily as the pioneers went west to find a refuge from the hatred and abuse of those who misunderstood them. Today, I reverence their memory and their legacy and I pray for an increase in tolerance for all. I am certain that tolerance and true love of all mankind is what they would seek for us, especially since that is what was denied to them! I long for the day when all men and women can treat each other as the Savior taught us to treat each other. And, I am certain that the most important thing I can do, is make certain that I behave so within the walls of my own home, in my own community and among my own family, neighbors, acquaintances and friends. "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with ME!"

Monday, July 14, 2008


I am going to depart yet one more time from my tributes to my children. It has struck me that we as a society have lost so very much in such a short period of time. I am referring to a sense of courteous regard and reverence for things that are sacred and holy. All around, in so many facets of life, I see those individuals and even groups that are blatantly mocking, ridiculing and deriding people, customs, ideals and practices that just a couple of generations ago were given proper respect and held in quiet awe.

With the media's control over the minds of those that submerge themselves in it's filth, I do not see much hope in a return to an attitude of reverence for our society as a whole. The only hope we have will come from a groundswell of individuals, families and communities that are able to shake off the shackles of the media's deadening of the soul's innate light. The light of Christ is given to all, but, we can extinguish that light so easily if we are not diligent in nourishing the thoughts and feelings that are pure, sacred, holy and divine.

While working in a care center several years ago, I had the privilege of caring for those that had lived long lives and now were no longer able to care for themselves. It was one of the most rewarding of all my experiences, and yet, it was also one of the saddest experiences--in that so many were just treated as cast-offs by their families. Rarely did some even see a family member. There were a few that had loving support and frequent visits from their loved ones, but, unfortunately, that was the exception, rather than the rule. And, this is a small community! I firmly believe that there is a strong correlation between how we honor, care and respect our elderly (and our young) and our level of Christian charity in our homes and our community.

Of the myriad of my experiences in that setting, I would like to share one poignant event. I had cared for Mr. Jones (not his real name) for many months. I watched as he rather rapidly lost all ability to care for himself and then, as he lost his mobility as well. He had been a farmer, and his body was used to hard labor. But, once relegated to the confines of his tiny room, with no useful work required of him, he deteriorated so quickly. Having witnessed the final breaths of several of the residents, I was certain that he, too, was near to drawing his last breath. A few of the Nursing Assistants that I supervised stood reverently with me as I held his hands. Tears welled up in my eyes and were spilling down my cheeks as I felt the spirit so very strongly. I have felt such an awe and reverence for the experiences of both the end of life;death and the beginning of life;birth. The spirit at each of these sacred events has always touched me deeply. Well, as I said, there were three of us, just quietly standing by as Mr. Jones was entering the after-life. I was not the only one shedding tears either, when, another Nursing Assistant abruptly entered the room and loudly asked, "Well, is he dead yet?" The sacred feeling fled and I now was crying for the affront to Mr. Jones. How is it possible that anyone can become so very callous to others? Did it help that I explained the sense of HEARING is the last sense to shut-down during death? NO, my entreaties for an increase of respect for the deceased fell on deaf ears.

All I can do is pray that I never lose my sense of the sacred and try even harder to instill those values and sensitivities in my own children. Unfortunately, a sense of reverence can not be imparted from one to another, rather, it must come from deep within our own spiritual reservoir. If we choose to seek and develop it, we can. But, it is a journey that is individual. And, as one of our Primary Children's Songs states, Reverence is MORE than Just Quietly Sitting, It's thinking of Father Above---It's a FEELING! It is deep devotion and awe coupled with quiet reflection.

Some of the things I hold in high regard, I reverence and I revere are:
1.) The Sacrifice and Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
2.) The GODHEAD, meaning our Heavenly Father, His SON Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Three distinct personages with three separate responsibilities yet all sharing the same mission, that of ministering to us! How amazing is that!
3.) The Sacrifice of all those that have provided us with our freedoms, our privileges---not just those that have fought and died for our country, but those that all throughout time have laid down their lives in defense of what they believed. Take William Tyndale, he suffered for 18 months and was finally strangled and burned to death. His crime? He translated the Bible so that the layman would be able to understand and read it! History is replete with such hero's! They ALL deserve our love, adoration and reverence.
4.) Birth
5.) Death
6.) Those that are suffering, the handicapped, the aged, the infirm and all children.
7.) Marriage between a man and a woman; baptism and any other ordinance
8.) The scriptures, all sacred writings
9.) Holy Edifices, such as our churches, Temples etc.
10.) Our flag
11.) Our bodies, which means we do not expose our bodies, but we dress modestly and do not purposely mar or destroy it.
12.) Our parents and grandparents--our families

That is just the short list. I am certain there are many others that could be added to the list. BUT suffice it to say that we as a society must return to a sense of reverence or in time, we will find that there will be no regard for any one's feelings or respect for anyone or anything at all.

Finally, I wish to plead with any reading this post to reject the current tide of profanity. I believe that as we allow and accept the current trend of increased profanity, the coarsening of our society will continue. We must stand firm and be better examples of purity in our vocabularies and lead out in expressing ourselves with civility and courtesy! May we all become a leavening agent and the much needed antidote to our society's current degradation.

Friday, July 4, 2008

United States of AMERICA---land that I LOVE!!!

THIS is one of my favorite holidays today! I LOVE the 4th of July; NOT for the picnics, NOT for the summertime activities available, not even totally for the fireworks! NO, I LOVE the 4th of July because it is a day of reverent celebration for me, personally! I have cringed with complete disdain as I have witnessed HISTORY REVISIONISM try to tear apart and destroy the great Founding Father's reputations. I have been near tears as I have heard from youth, their lack of respect or reverence for those great men and women of yester-years, and for the lack of respect and reverence for those who bravely and courageously choose to fight to keep this great land free today!

I do not know exactly how I became such a devoted patriot. My father served our country, yet he did not speak much of that service. But, as a young girl, I devoured biographies! I loved to read about real people and their lives. I know I read biographies of many of the great men and women that provided us with our freedoms today. I was deeply moved at their willingness to trade their tomorrows so that I could have my today! I guess I have felt that there really is no way to properly or adequately show my deep sense of gratitude for their ultimate sacrifices and honorable service! Yet, if I always retain in my memory and I share my awe and gratitude with my children and my grandchildren, perhaps I can be a part of a legacy of love and appreciation for this land, our freedom and my immense love and appreciation for those that have, from it's inception, made our freedom a reality!

I hope and pray that my family will NEVER forget nor take for granted the truth that our freedom has never come free! That a great deal of precious blood was spilt in order for us to have all the rights and privileges that we enjoy. And, that each individual that has sacrificed their all for others; for us, is in fact, a type of Savior! How grateful I am for our divine Redeemer, OUR SAVIOR who not only gave HIS life for us, but HE LIVED A PERFECT LIFE for us. His life was the perfect example of how we can find true liberty---freedom from sin, guilt, hate, destructive habits and behaviors. HE led the way and gave to us the LIGHT by which we can navigate through the dark days that often plague us as we journey on this earth.