Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stories That Bind Us Together

As we approach Pioneer Day (June 24th, a Utah State Holiday where we celebrate the Mormon Pioneers, for all my friends who live outside of Utah), we remember the pioneers, we watch videos, see pictures and tell stories of the Pioneers crossing the plains.

These stories inspire us.  I love to hear stories about the early pioneers and all of the miracles they had while crossing the plains.  I love to read about how they overcome hardships.  I love the courage and the bravery.  They had a strength that I desire in myself.  They were great examples for me.

But I often forget that the stories didn’t end when they entered the Salt Lake Valley.  In fact, that was really only a beginning.  They went on to build a great city, and then build more great cities, and temples.  They farmed, they built, they worshipped, they loved and they lived.

Their story lives on in me.  I don’t mean that I have a pioneer spirit, and that I continue to be a pioneer like them.  In fact, I don’t think that I would have made a great pioneer.  I am a city girl through and through.  I don’t really like hiking (expect on the rare occasion), and I camp very little.  I really don’t have Pioneer/wilderness survival/trek across the plains skills.

But the city that I love, my city, is the city that they built.  I am a direct descendant from Pioneers.  My Mom’s ancestors came across the plains in covered wagons, and my Dad and his family came across in a Volkswagen.  :D My Dad loves this joke, and I have heard him tell it thousands of times.  My work and my legacy and my life are part of what they started.

The stories don’t end. They had children, who grew up and had children.  But it is all the same story.

My story didn’t begin when I graduated high school, nor when I was baptized.  It didn’t begin when I learned to walk and talk.  I didn’t begin when I was born.  It didn’t begin when my parents met.  But where did my story begin?

William Shakespeare described our stories in one of his poems:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.

So it is all just one big story.  The end of one chapter just leads to the next chapter.  My exits and entrances are different than the other actors in the play, but it is all the same play.

In movies, books and stories, we are accustomed to endings and beginnings.  After all you have to enter and exit the theater sometime, or you would never do anything else.  Books have to begin somewhere, and they have to end, or we would run out of paper.  We live in a finite world, and it is hard for us to understand something, even a story, that has no ending or beginning.  Yet that the very story in which we find ourselves.

Elder Boyd K Packer talked about the story that we are in, and also compared it to a play like Shakespeare.

“In mortality, we are like actors who enter a theater just as the curtain goes up on the second act. We have missed act 1. The production has many plots and subplots that interweave, making it difficult to figure out who relates to whom and what relates to what, who are the heroes and who are the villains. It is further complicated because we are not just spectators; we are members of the cast, on stage, in the middle of it all!” (The Play and the Plan [CES fireside for young adults, May 7, 1995], 1–2).

So the story that we are in is really just act 2 of some bigger play.  Act 2 has a definite beginning.  It began with the Creation of the Earth (See Genesis chapter 1).  We know that it will end at final judgment. 

The stories of our ancestors aren’t just good stories to tell.  They are my story.  They are your story.  My story is theirs.  We all have the same story.  I think that is why we, as a people, are so drawn to these stories of Pioneers, because it is really just our own story.

“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.” (Malachi 4:6).  These stories bind us together.  They link us in ways that I don’t fully comprehend.

Share your story today at in the Memories tab of one of your ancestors.

The stories of our ancestors will bind us together as we turn our hearts to our fathers.

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