Sunday, August 3, 2014

All Is Well

Written the night of July 23, but never finished/posted:

I spent the summer after the first year of my master's degree program as an editorial intern for The Liahona, or the International magazine of the church. This summer just happened to be the sesquicentennial of the pioneers' entrance into the Salt Lake Valley, and the magazine and the church in general was saturated with pioneers. My work days were filled with reading and editing pioneer stories, often the same stories over and over again. I grew thoroughly sick of the original pioneers, modern-day pioneers, and everything remotely "pioneer."  

Now that my Summer of the Pioneers is receding farther into my past, though, I've come to once again love the pioneers and the symbolism of their journeys and their stories. This year, I happened upon this talk , given by Tessa Meyer Santiago, a fellow instructor of mine at BYU back in 1997, at a BYU devotional. Tessa speaks about the significance of pioneer stories to her, a convert from South Africa, and to all of us. In her application to all of us, she says, "Saints under covenant must be devoted to the concept of journeying, not destination." She laments that often
In our zeal we fail to realize that we are judged not on whether we reach the Salt Lake Valley but on whether we wore ourselves out in the effort to bring ourselves and all for whom we are responsible as far along the trail as possible. . . .  We cannot stay in our Nauvoo forever: we must wade the Mississippi River, join the wagon train, and begin the journey. Ultimately though, this covenant journey is about willingness and worthiness to enter the kingdom of God.  
In the end, the Lord doesn't care if the pioneers made it to the Salt Lake Valley. He cares if they began the journey and wore themselves out in the process of journeying.

When I was in graduate school, one of my good friends who entered the program at the same time as me was (is) married to a Congregationalist minister. She also had a Mormon roommate at Boston University. She told me that she and her husband and daughter still visit her old roommate and her family when they can, and when they visit, they go to church with them. "We love your pioneer hymn," she said immediately upon learning that I am Mormon. "It's one of our favorite hymns of all time."  I never asked her why exactly she loves "Come, Come, Ye Saints," but if I had to guess, I would say that it has something to do with the truths in the song--the truths about journeying, about the nature of our God, and about the nature of life in general:

  • We must find the joy in the journey, as we "wend [our] way" and strive to drive out "useless cares."
  • God will help us--Grace will be with us, "our God will never us forsake," and He has prepared a place for us.
  • Despite what happens, "All is well! All is well!" 

1 comment:

Jeri said...

I like this one. Thanks.