Thursday, July 10, 2014

I Came Home

I'm back.  I went to Nauvoo, Illinois with a about sixty youth and their leaders and now I'm back.  Mostly.  There's still a part of me there, waking up early to help feed a hundred people, laughing giddily in a sleep-deprived haze that makes everything funny, looking for someone else to set the schedule and give direction, and pondering so many stories.

Our group did an intense two mile handcart pull.  The pull was run by a sweet retired couple who warned us about poison ivy, reminded us of the hardships faced by pioneers, and shared some of their own story.  As the woman stood to speak with us, "Our daughter spent ten years on meth," were not the words I expected to come out of her mouth.  She was dressed in calico and sunglasses, and generously opening herself to us.  "It took me to places I never thought I would have to go as a mother."  She went on to talk about how difficult times come to each of us, as they did to the handcart pioneers, but that we can find stores of unsuspected strength inside ourselves.  "You are strong."

Thinking about stuff at the Mississippi's edge
On our last night, I wandered down Parley street toward the Mississippi.  It's the street where thousands of members of my church lined their wagons as they prepared to leave Nauvoo, the city they had built, because in 1846 it was no longer safe to stay.  As I wandered, I thought of Bathsheba W. Smith.  She was only twenty-three when she and her husband and their two small children crossed the frozen river leaving their home behind.  She wrote, "My last act in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door.  Then with emotions in my heart which I could not now pen and which I then strove with success to conceal, I gently closed the door and faced an unknown future...with faith in God."

The trip was permeated with such stories.  As I said, part of me is still there pondering them.  The part of me that came home is braver than before.

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