This afternoon I tore myself away from the DfG Events in Yakima and Pres Lewis and I drove 2 hours south to The Dalles for Stake Conference there. During the 4:00 Priesthood Leadership Meeting, I sat in the foyer, preparing my talk for the evening session. I couldn’t help but notice a grandma near me writing in what looked like a journal.
The talk I was preparing was on Family history and preserving our family stories, so I watched this lovely lady intently as she wrote, and smiled and wrote more. I loved what I was seeing. After the meeting ended, I introduced myself and made a new friend–Harriett Madden, grandma to a lucky 23-year-old granddaughter who will receive this book, this gift for her birthday in a few months.
We had a delightful visit about what she was writing and sharing, her stories. What I watched reminded me of 3 scriptures I’ve been thinking about:
D&C 127:9 talks about records and how things like histories, stories and testimonies should be “held in remembrance from generation to generation.” What does it mean to be held in remembrance? If it’s not recorded, it won’t be remembered.
2 Nephi 25:22 also talks about records and says “these things shall go from generation to generation, as Nephi describes what and why we should write. In verse 26 he says that we write “that our children may know.” How will they know if we don’t record our experiences?
In Jacob 4:2-3, Jacob writes (about 500 BC):
1 Now behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates) and we know that the things which we write upon plates must remain;
2 But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates must perish and vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers—
3 Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.
4 For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.
I loved watching Sister Madden as I thought about the reasons we write and record.
The thoughts I shared tonight in my talk were some I’ve thought about for a long time. I put them on paper once here:
I’ve been thinking lately about the prophet Malachi, who ended his record with these words: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
These words have been repeated in every dispensation of time, to every people. They are Epic. I love the definition of The Spirit of Elijah given by Russell M. Nelson: “The Spirit of Elijah is the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family.” We often talk about the Spirit of Elijah in relation to Family History work. I feel it. I feel my heart turning to my fathers and ancestors and I feel that they are aware of me when I notice them.
Today I am thinking about Malachi’s words, repeated in this dispensation, where he concludes: “. . . and he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (D&C 2)
“Utterly Wasted.” “Leaving neither root nor branch.” “Smitten with a curse.” Hmmm. Yesterday in my Family History class we talked about finding and recording the histories of other family members. Sid Lieberman, a nationally-acclaimed storyteller came to the Roots Tech Conference in Salt Lake last March. He said, “Everyone has a right to exist.” Then he encouraged us to “Be a witness for someone who otherwise would not be known.” To me this means: SAVE A LIFE BY PRESERVING A MEMORY OF SOMEONE. To paraphrase Donald Davis, “If we don’t remember someone, it’s as if they never lived.” (See Nov. 2 post.)
This reminds me of a statement made by Ronald O. Barney, of the Church History Department: If you do not write your story, your name will be obliterated from the human record and you will not speak from the grave. You will not have any influence on those who come after you. Those who write about the things they have done and learned in life have a huge impact on posterity. Write your story. You have overcome things your children need to know about.”
So, today I am stewing on all these thoughts, wondering if the “utter waste” the prophets speak of might be lives lived and not learned from. If I were to live and die, and a generation or two from now, influence no loved one for good, my life would be a waste. I can do something about that every day. I can write and record and preserve my thoughts and experiences. AND I can do the same for others in my family whose lives I’m discovering and learning about. Their lives are not wasted on me.