As we study Church history this year, I wanted to make sure readers had seen this post from Book of Mormon Central that describes the history of five women who were witnesses of the golden plates that were translated to bring us the Book of Mormon. Did you know that Lucy Harris, usually seen as a villain in the story of the translation of the Book of Mormon, was also a witness of the physical plates? I did not know that. Worth reading.
My blog post for Come Follow Me: D&C 12-13
This is a revelation given to Joseph Knight, one of the early converts to the Church. Imagine what it must have been like back in 1829, when most churches no longer believed in continuing revelation, angels, etc. Here was 24 year old Joseph Smith claiming to be a prophet, and revelation was again on the earth. Consider how the early followers would have understood concepts such as “establish the cause of Zion,” “knock and it shall be opened to you,” or as in last week’s lesson on Hyrum Smith’s revelation in section 11, “become the sons of God.”
Their understanding was very limited. Even Joseph Smith, at this time, would not have comprehended the enormity of the work ahead: publishing the Book of Mormon, receiving priesthood and keys, building temples and cities.
We’re in a new world where the country’s leadership is emphasizing masks and social distancing.
But tomorrow is that holiday so universal that even we celebrate: the Super Bowl.
In light of that, I thought it useful to share a recent case study that is close to home.
Two friends of mine got together to meet a long-time friend they hadn’t seen in a while. Everyone felt fine. I don’t know if they validated “health” using thermometers and pulse oximeters, but they had every reason to know they were OK. They shared some time in the our mutual friends’ home. And since this wasn’t in public or on Federal property, everyone felt free to unmask.
A couple of days later, the long-time friend started feeling unwell. A couple of days after that, the long-time friend was truly feeling terrible. The day after that, day five, they got tested. On day six they got their result: they were infected with COVID.
Since the evening with friends fell just inside the danger window, the long-time friend called their buddies. Just to be on the safe side, they should get tested.
Our mutual friends both tested positive for COVID infection.
Now, it’s several days after learning they were infected before my friends let me know about their diagnosis. They are lucky that they “just” feel sick. They’ve been self-isolating since they learned the long-time friend had tested positive. They can still smell and taste.
Now, I happen to know at the time these friends met with the long-time friend that risk in their community was high. Kinsa Health Weather can show you the current risk in your community. For example, right now in Richmond, Virginia, the risk is 99 (very high). A couple of weeks ago, I had just learned about the Health Weather website, and was having “fun” putting in zip codes for folks I know. At the time, my local risk was a concerning 54, but it was lower than the risk in other counties for any of my family and close friends.
As we all prepare to celebrate that favorite holiday, with munchies (no masks) and lots of yelling and screaming (or at least laughing at the funny commercials), may we think about whether our respective counties are “safe” or not.
We’re late enough in this whole thing that I expect many are already set in their patterns of life and opinions regarding COVID. But I felt it was worth sounding a note of caution. So I’ll now go up on my mountain and sit under my leafy vine and wait for what will come. 1
[Actually, I’m going to double-mask and go help another pair of long-time friends move.]
- Jonah 4:6 ↩
My blog post on Come Follow Me: D&C 10-11
Many of the earliest revelations were given at the request of others. Joseph Smith Senior, Oliver Cowdery and many others went to Joseph for heavenly guidance. In these early days, when the Book of Mormon was still being translated, most followers had not been baptized and none had received the gift of the Holy Ghost. They relied upon Joseph to receive revelation from God. How different it is for us today, as we receive encouragement from Pres Nelson to seek out personal revelation. As prophet of a worldwide Church, he does not have the time Joseph had to give personal revelations.
Hyrum came to Joseph for guidance, wanting to go out and preach the gospel and the Book of Mormon. Here was guidance that applies to all of us.
This past week my husband and I found a bird in the lobby while cleaning a building.
Now, I care about the organization whose building we were cleaning. But I think all would agree that a wild bird would find any building to be a hell. As I had a chance to reflect, the bird’s saga reminded me of too many times when I or those I love have been caught in our own personal hells.
When we saw the bird, my husband tried to open the outer doors so the bird could fly free. But it is hard, when in hell, to know who or what to trust. In this case, the bird darted past us, flying through the labyrinthine hallways, into a room near an exit.
Here again, we attempted to coax the bird out a door to freedom. But the bird, panicked, darted down yet another hallway.
Two things are worth mentioning at this point.
First, my husband had seen an e-mail from the week prior, where a bird was reported in the largest room in the building, a room with a ceiling more than twenty feet high. The person reporting this had left the doors leading out of the large room open, in hopes that the bird might both escape the room, as it would surely die were it to remain in that large room.
Second, I had gone the other way through the hallways, shutting any doors left ajar.
The bird ended up at the front of the building again, flying straight towards freedom. My husband had propped open a door. But the bird flew straight into a window flanking the open door, likely to avoid being within arms’ reach of my husband. The bird fluttered aloft again and retreated to a perch at the far side of the lobby, which we had now closed off from the other hallways. My husband similarly backed away from the open door.
After a moment of resting, the bird flew towards freedom again. But again the bird hugged the wall, leading it directly to the window.
Helpless, we watched as the bird tried a third time, this time flying so hard that the impact knocked the bird to the floor, motionless.
My husband approached from behind. The bird, desperate, flapped away.
Through the open inner door.
But the bird collapsed before it made it through the outer door.
My husband carefully closed the inner door, leaving only a path to true freedom.
While my husband left to finish what we had come to do, I sat near the door, waiting for the bird to either expire or escape. There was plenty of time to reflect on how I and others had beat our souls bloody trying to escape from our own hells. There was time to reflect on how I, at least, had not been willing to take advantage of the helps that lay on every side. There were the times when I and others had been so destroyed that escape seemed futile.
The bird kept breathing, though shallowly. I waited, watching.
Then, to my surprise, the bird fluttered the wings that had been so awkwardly splayed akimbo. It hopped to its feet. Then, before I could have said anything, the bird took flight, soaring out the door to freedom.
May we, also, always keep trying to overcome the limitations that bind us. May those of us trying to help know that, at times, the one who needs help must rest before accepting the aid we so wish to grant.
Over all, may we, though bruised and hurting, find our way to the escape our Savior offers us.