We have been experiencing a little taste of spring weather lately in Northern Utah. The other day it was unresistable, and I had to get out and enjoy it while it lasted! I believe I made my dog the happiest canine on earth when I told him to go and get his leash. We set off up the hill breathing in the fresh air and basking in the rare sunshine.
At the top of the hill, our street splits into a “T”. One has two choices. Either direction will follow a mountain ridge that provides a beautiful view of the valley below. This time, I chose the direction that requires more effort. It is hilly initially, however, I knew if I kept going this way it would provide a special reward at the end. Along the way, one passes a cemetery that borders the sidewalk. It was a particularly peaceful setting with spots of grass beginning to show hopefully through the snow, and a gentle breeze making the tree branches sway. I gazed across the gravesites that dotted the manicured hill as I walked past. There was a particular spot of ground marked with a stone bench, instead of the typical headstone. I could tell that there was a custom inscription engraved, but could not quite make it out, so I detoured for a moment to take a look. The family of the deceased chose to engrave a quote by Lucy Mack Smith.
Brief history background: Lucy Mack Smith was the mother of the prophet Joseph Smith, and is considered one of the great women pioneers of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was an exemplary mother, who taught her children to be hard workers and how to read and study the Bible. Although she had moments of great joy in her lifetime, she also endured indescribable suffering and tragedy. She was forced to leave multiple homes she settled because of persecution for her beliefs. Lucy endured unjust and illegal treatment, sometimes driven at gunpoint without even being able to retrieve cherished belongings. Some of her deepest heartache was losing those she loved most to death: infant babies, her oldest son Alvin, and her husband all to illness, and the devestating murder of her sons Joseph and Hyrum. I am sure there were untold sorrows carried in Lucy’s heart. However, this good woman remained true and faithful to her testimony of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. She chose not to allow herself to become bitter towards God or those who hurt her and her family. She was known endearingly as “Mother Smith”, and gave tireless christian service until her last breath. Knowing all of this, I found her words on the bench a glimpse into what sustained her – words that are encouraging and touching. Since I had my digital camera in my pocket, I am able to share this with you.
“We must cherish one another, watch over one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together“ – Lucy Mack Smith
Underneath this quote has been added the the words “Please – No Empty Chairs” and the declaration “Families Can Be Together Forever“. After reading these words and absorbing the message, I continued my walk, and was rewarded with a glorious view of the LDS Bountiful Temple. Tears suddenly came into my eyes. It was one of those moments I have mentioned when a daily event combines into a quiet message from heaven. An ordinary walk to remember. I felt the spirit whisper peace to my soul. The dead shall rise again. Families can be together forever. God our Father in Heaven does not want any empty chairs, and He has provided the way!