Wow, what an event. I’m so glad I went. It was so inspiring. I’ve wanted to post just a few highlights and my thoughts on them…
First of all, I loved the image of hard work that Sister Pearce, his Daughter, painted about the prophet. She said that when his wife died, he mourned deeply, then put on his shoes and went to work. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he mourned the loss of his good health (having been so healthy all of his life), but then he put on his shoes, and went to work. He was 97, and every morning, he put on his shoes and went to work. He served the Lord for half of a century, tirelessly “doing his best”. He served as apostle, seer, and revelator for nearly 50 years. He bore the burden of the entire church as prophet for 13 years. Almost one third of all members baptized today were baptized while he was president. He built 75 new temples, and never tired. Every day, he just put on his shoes, and went to work.
That was one of the legacies he left behind, that notion of hard work in the face of hardship, despite age and fatigue, he was a strong, non-complaining, hard worker.
When I was in college I memorized a poem that I feel encapsulates President Hinckley:
by Maltbie Davenport Babcock
Be strong, we are not here to play, to dream, to drift,
we have hard work to do, and loads to lift,
sun not the struggle, face it, ‘tis God’s gift.
Be strong, say not the days are evil, who’s to blame
and fold the hands of acquiesce – o shame!
Stand up, speak out, and boldly in God’s name.
Be strong, it matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
how hard the battle goes, the day how long,
faint not, fight on, tomorrow comes the song.
Sometimes I reflect on how much more diligent I can be at following in those footsteps. Often we find ourselves complaining, paralyzed by fear, drugged by nostalgia, hindered by doubt, wallowing in laziness, or focusing on the negative, when what we really need to do, is just put on our shoes, and go to work.
I loved hearing about the explosion of text messages across latter day saint youth, prompting them to wear their Sunday best to school the next morning, in tribute. That kind of spontaneous unity across such a wide array of people, and over such a short period of time is inspiring and awesome.
I loved the story of President Hinckley walking into the room full of general authorities dressed in their dark, suits and saying “You all look like a bunch of penguins”, or the myriad other stories about his lightening sense of humor. I love seeing that humor and sobriety can safely coexist. That one bearing such burdens can look through it all and smile, and joke, and lighten the burdens of those around him, even though they pale in comparison to those weighing down upon himself.
The quote: “Here and there, now and then, the Lord makes a giant out of men”.
And finally, after a beautiful, entertaining, and profound tribute to our prophet, the heart-felt feeling of our next prophet, President Monson, calling him by his first name – “Gordon, God be with you till we meet again”.