Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Praise to the Man

Smith cabin

Light coming through the Sacred Grove

Light reflected through the Grove

Palmyra Temple

Aren't these pictures beautiful? Scot Proctor, publisher of Meridian Magazine (Maurine Proctor is editor-in-chief) took the photos himself and has offered them as free downloads. Apparently, it is reader donations that keep this magazine afloat, and those of you who have had the privilege of reading it know that this publication is too good to fail for financial reasons. If you want to support the magazine with a gift of any size, click here. (Even five dollars is appreciated by them.)

Okay, now that my public service announcement is over, I just wanted to say a few words about Joseph Smith. As a Relief Society teacher for my church, I've been giving monthly lessons on his life for nearly two years now. Initially, that seemed like a long time to me, but focusing on him for an such an extended period has helped me come to know him better and appreciate him more.

Last week, I taught a lesson that quoted excerpts from Joseph's journal expressing many of his thoughts and feelings about his calling as the prophet of this dispensation. Reading, pondering, and discussing his words made me more aware of Joseph's humanity and vulnerability as he gave his life over to what must have seemed a herculean and, at times, thankless task.

Joseph wanted his motives to be understood by others, but all too often they were not. Like any man, he had feelings...feelings that could be hurt. I would guess he spent many a long night on his knees seeking comfort from the Lord, and I’m sure he received it. But, as any of us would, Joseph yearned for the people he served so valiantly, members and non-members alike, to understand him. These words, in their rawness and simplicity, touch me every time I read them:

You don’t know me. You never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame anyone for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself. I never did harm any man since I was born in the world. My voice is always for peace. I cannot lie down until all the work is finished. I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of my fellow man. When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all.

Joseph is as misunderstood today as he was in his own time, perhaps even more so. But having been blessed to teach these lessons, my understanding of him has increased. I hope the members of my class feel the same way.


Darlene said...

It is really true that the teacher learns more than those she teaches. I can appreciate your feelings for Joseph Smith after teaching about him for two years. I didn't realize that is has been that long. The time goes so fast for me these days. I do know what you mean though about Joseph Smith. We learn bits and pieces about him all the time we are growing up, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have been born in the church, but I think we can never really learn enough about him. As old as I am, I keep learning more. I have been reading a lot about Church history around the time of Nauvoo and have learned so much. It helps me to understand why Joseph was so misunderstood. All I have read has just increased my testimony about his devine mission on this earth, to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness.
What a difficult calling that was for a mere mortal.

Karen said...

How I want to come and sit in YOUR RS lesson!! I love the quote. My personal Joseph Smith favorite quote is the one where he says "I knew it, I knew God knew I knew it, therefore I could not deny it." Such faith.

KC Mom said...

OOOhhh, I bet you are a fab RS teacher! I love those words by JS and I'm glad you've been able to learn more about him over the last two years. I had that calling over the summer and I loved it. Too bad I'm not still in there!

Sue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue said...

Oops...I wanted to reply to Karen and KC Mom in the same post, but now I've ended up with two posts anyway. (I thought when I deleted a comment on my own blog, it would disappear entirely.) Oh, well.

Karen -I also love that quote (your favorite) of Joseph Smith's. I used it in my lesson, and it was powerful.

KC Mom - You're right. This is definitely one of the best callings I've ever had. Hands down! =)

karen said...

I've never heard that quote before, but it made Joseph more of a real person to me, rather than in icon. Beautiful post, as opposed to mine, which is whiney and self absorbed (I'm having that kind of day). Thank you for (mostly) snapping me out of it. This is what's really important. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss RS. I'll bet your lessons are wonderful!

Amy said...

That is so beautiful! I have been in primary and YW since I got married, and though I love my classes, and adore serving with the YW I do wish I could be in RS to learn about one of my ultimate heroes. I have never heard that quote before, and I love it. What an amazing person he was! I really anticipate the day I will get to meet him. Thank you so much for sharing this!

Em said...

when i was teaching 3rd grade in rexburg, one of my students went on a 3 mo trip with her family to the east, and all that involves. her dad was a teacher at byuidaho and was doing is disseration project or something. anyway, she kept a journal every day as part of her writing assignment from me. when she got back i got to read it. amazing. you would never have guessed a 9 yr old could write like that. my favorite entry was when they visited the sacred grove. she had leaves pressed into the pages. i cried as i read it. such an amazing experience to teach in rexburg.

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