Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lessons from Nauvoo, the Beautiful

Hey Family,

I wanted to share some thoughts about Nauvoo and the early saints. Mommy and I went to visit Randal and Charmaine in Ames at the end of July. It was a wonderful trip!

We really enjoyed our stay with them. For part of the trip we went to Nauvoo for 3 days.

And that was great. We saw the Nauvoo Pageant and went through the Temple and had fun walking around the old town and just shopping.

The Nauvoo Pageant highlights the saints in Nauvoo and their efforts in building the Temple

In the pageant they talked about the Prophet Joseph being martyred and then the saints being forced to leave their beautiful Nauvoo. It was a great pageant. It brought out something new that I had not fully realized before, and that was that their life there was quite centered on building the temple. They really were enthused about the whole thing. We talked about how in the pageant, King Follett was one of the main characters. He died in Nauvoo towards the end of the temple building and just months before the Prophet was killed. His funeral sermon was one of the Prophet’s finest. He explained so much about the eternal nature of man and the nature of God and His plan of Salvation. It was an inspired sermon, not only for the doctrine, but I’m sure it helped them to more fully understand and appreciate the temple and provide a real motivation and inspiration for the saints to finish the temple. And it also served as a preparation for the saints to give them comfort when their beloved prophet would be killed.

After the prophet and Hyrum were martyred, the persecution become more intense, and again, they were looking at having to leave. But they did not want to leave until their temple was done. So they stepped up the work on it. A little over a year after the Prophet had died, they knew they were going to have to leave real soon, and with the temple almost done they hurried to finish it so that they could perform the ordinances. They finished it just a short time before they were finally forced to leave. It was in the middle of the winter. They put off leaving as long as they could and as the time drew near, they were going to the temple day and night. They knew that the ordinances in the temple would bind them here and in heaven – now and throughout eternity. And they perhaps knew that they would need that assurance for the trials that would lie ahead as they went west.

And so, as we would go shopping, there was a picture of Nauvoo I kept seeing with their beautiful place with the temple, and I have to admit, I kind of did not like it. I felt bad.

They were forced to leave under threats again to their life and loss of their property – forced from their temple they had just built and in the middle of a fierce winter. They never really had a life of living with their beautiful temple and peaceful summer scenes. They were driven out in winter with the mob right on their heels.

Then I would see this picture and others about their exodus and felt that this was a more accurate depiction of their life:

But then I got to thinking, especially after we went through the Temple (and talk about beautiful -- it really is) that, in one sense, they really did complete their beautiful city. They had a wonderful city of houses and their temple on the hill. They had lives of harmony and love and they achieved their Zion in Nauvoo. The pageant would use the phrase, "when you’re here, we’re here" – meaning, when we visit there, we can feel of the sprits of those saints and appreciate them and their faith. And I felt that perhaps those Nauvoo saints would want us to remember them, not just for their hardship and persecutions, but to remember that they did succeed in finishing their beautiful Nauvoo and the temple– not just physically, but what they finished building spiritually. They would want us to see how beautiful they had made it and remember that. And they would have us see how their life there was very beautiful and among themselves they did achieve a peaceful society. And so as we were leaving the city I realized that both were accurate and I really felt good and uplifted about the picture of beautiful Nauvoo.

Then, in our testimony meeting this month, it really sank in deep in my heart, that the things they really built were not temporary. The Temple may have been torn down and most of the building and houses were also destroyed or worn down, but the true city – the kingdom – the spiritual city and the foundation of faith and their houses of faith and love – the spiritual kingdom of God on the earth – those things they built have never been even slightly damaged or worn in any way. It just kept getting better and brighter and more beautiful. They built lives and legacies for each of us and what we are adding to that and what we are building and adding on to that now can truly last forever. And physically now, the church has "restored" their houses and the Temple and so even in the temporal sense, they will have lost nothing. It really is symbolic of our life and what we are trying to doing in our families and wards and stakes and in the church. We are building something of an eternal nature and it will last forever.
The temple ordinances and especially the sealing power of the priesthood not only binds our family relationships, but enables our efforts now to be recorded and sealed for our good – our efforts in building good and loving relationships and our efforts to build righteous homes and peaceful and loving lives with each other will be sealed so that this work we do now is building things that will last forever – and that will just keep getting better. Yes, there will be persecutions and hardships in all our lives, but we are building something beautiful.
If we were to see in a physical sense the building and city what we are really building, it would be the largest, the most beautiful, the most awesome structures in the world. It would be the only structures that would last throughout time. The city and the kingdom of the families and the people would be glorious to look at even though today, the quiet, humble, faithful and obedient seem to be the least noticed, and at times, the most criticized and looked down upon. But in reality, they will shine and radiate as the most glorious people in the next life.
So, thanks to each of you. Thank you for your lives and examples. Each of you have unique and different talents and gifts and strengths. I think back on our cruise and how each of you seemed to be so kind and loving and happy with each other. We’re getting there! (And maybe we just need to do more cruises!)

Now a little PS – I say we need to work like those of old and go through our own trials the way they did, but... here’s a little something else about our trip to the temple. My going to the temple involved no struggle, no sacrifice, nor any discomfort in any way, but rather, it was quite "comfortable" for me. Randal forgot his shoes, so I let him borrow mine and I wore my slippers! Wearing slippers to the temple, now that was like heaven for me!

I love you all!