Saturday, June 15, 2013

to cross a river

I recently had the opportunity to take my four children to Nauvoo while my husband was at a conference in Chicago. I met my parents and a few of my siblings in Nauvoo and had a wonderful experience. For my older children, ages 11 and 9, it proved to be a moving experience, one that helped their young testimonies continue to grow.

On our last day in Nauvoo I found myself pulling the twins along the streets of Nauvoo in their little wagon. They were just too wiggly to tour any more homes. ;) I enjoyed the quiet and the chill in the air as I wheeled them through old Nauvoo. I, quite unexpectedly, came upon the Trail of Hope and began following it. The Trail of Hope is on Parley Street and traces the steps the Saints took as they left Nauvoo for the last time. Along Parley Street are plaques with journal entries from many different Saints who left their Nauvoo behind. Some were hopeful, some were worried ,and some were absolutely heart wrenching. I wasn't able to follow the trail all the way to the Mississippi as the babies were needing to turn around, but what I was able to read was perspective changing.

Later that evening, after the babies were tucked in bed, I was able to slip back to Parley Street. I wanted to follow the trail to the Mississippi. At the point where Parley Street meets the Mississippi there is a monument with a beautiful statue of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith. There is also a list of all those who died on the trek from Nauvoo to Salt Lake. I had heard all my life of those that had died, but I had no idea it was so very many. I was able to find relatives on the list from both my side of the family and my husband's side.

I took a moment to stand at the edge of the Mississippi and look across to the banks of Iowa. My thoughts were filled with all of the words of those who had stood in that very same spot in the dead of winter. As a mother I cannot imagine being driven from my home, loading up my children and leaving my temple - so recently completed - behind. I cannot imagine the grief these women must have felt. They had lost their prophet, they were losing their homes, their temple, some would lose their children, their husbands. Some would lose their own lives in cause of Zion. And yet they squared their shoulders and pushed on.

I felt a reverence and an awe for these women as I stood there that night, wondering if I would have the same courage and fortitude. I felt a greater resolve to not treat casually that which they gave their lives for. I felt inspired that perhaps in small ways I, too. could square my shoulders and  face my own trek with greater courage and fortitude. But most of all I felt gratitude, gratitude for the knowledge and covenants that I have in my life. They are worth any sacrifice and any price.

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