Several weeks ago an interesting idea came to mind. Okay, it was probably more like several months ago. Nonetheless, I toyed with the idea for quite some time before I spoke to anyone about it. After a few interesting conversations with friends I called my mother. You see, my mom is always the final source of confirmation for me, just to make sure I don’t ever go off the deep end. My mom is one of the straightest shooting people you will ever find.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about all these public shootings which have been going on. As I’ve thought about it I’ve wondered what I would do in that circumstance? Would I fight back or would I cower in fear? I realized, thinking back over the courage and strength our ancestors have shown through the forming of this nation that cowering would not be an option. Candace, can you walk away from this and still face our ancestors when you finally pass through the veil?”
It simply took me aback. I hadn’t thought about what would happen when I finally died and passed to the other side of the veil. It hadn’t occurred to me that my ancestors might ask me what I did with mortality and what I did with the sacrifices they made so that I could live in America and be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often referred to as the Mormons.
I began to consider the idea which had been percolating in the back of my brain much more seriously. Then came the preparation for my husband’s kidney transplant, his transplant and now the recovery process. I hadn’t done much with my idea, being otherwise occupied.
This afternoon, Alvin and I were driving south on I-15 on our way to watch my sister’s group perform for the senior citizens of her town and then a local elementary. As I glanced up I saw the majestic Wasatch mountains framed against a blue sky with clouds floating lazily across that canvas. Something about the crags, cliffs and rocks of those mountains brought my ancestors back to mind.
There was Thomas Dodd Smith, my great-great-great-great grandfather who was reputed to have been a bodyguard of George Washington during the Revolutionary War. He suffered, as the Revolutionary War soldiers suffered, and spent those long months and years away from his wife as he fought to free America from British rule.
There was Moses Harris, my great-great-great grandfather, the son-in-law of Thomas Dodd Smith, who was first introduced to the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in 1832. Despite the trials, tribulations and persecutions already occurring, Moses and his wife, Fanny, recognized the Gospel, remembered what they’d been told by her father, and joined the Church. They were driven state to state, home to home, suffering all the above mentioned and they never faltered. They followed Joseph Smith to Illinois and then Brigham Young to Utah. They always completed anything the prophet asked them do, it mattered not how difficult or lengthy the task. They stayed true to the Gospel, as did their children and down through them, to my mother and then me.
My great-great grandfather, John Smith Harris, who had two wives, finally had to flee to Mexico, where he lived the remainder of his life and died in the colonies just across the border. My great-great grandmother, his first wife, stayed in Utah and her son, my great-grandfather, Thomas Dodd Harris, eventually settled in the Southwestern corner of Colorado where my mother was raised.
On my biological father’s side, his ancestors also fought in every war from the Revolutionary War to my cousins currently serving in the military, having already completed stints in Iraq.
Every war this nation has fought, my blood has been on the front lines defending America, freedom and the hope that this country stands for … a future full of promise if we will only work hard enough to believe that we can do it and then follow through.
All this poured through my mind, along with their sacrifices, as I looked at those mountains. You might ask what point am I coming to?
We honor our ancestors by living our lives by not only being grateful for the decisions they made which not only brought us to this point in our lives, but also by living up to the fullest of the potential which exists in us, both temporally and spiritually. So, here are just a few questions to ask ourselves:
- Do we take advantage of the time, freedom and opportunities we have or do we spend all our time in front of the television or playing video games?
- Do we take the time to continue the learning process, constantly honing and perfecting our gifts and talents, or do we simply coast through life?
- Do we take the time to understand our faults and weaknesses and to do as Enos did in the Book of Mormon, repent and do so with all the sincerity and humility in our hearts? In other words, do you work every day to be just a little better?
- Have we taken the time to learn and understand who Jesus Christ is, what He’s done for us and why He is such an integral part of every aspect of our lives?
- Do we take to heart the request of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and live our lives in such a way that others notice something different when we live as He has asked us?
- Do we study the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then share what we’ve learned as opportunities are presented to us?
This is just a little of what I think of when honoring my ancestors. So yes,
- I strive to be the best at what I do.
- I immerse myself in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, absolutely absorbing the knowledge which pours from the scriptures and the mouths of moderns prophets and apostles.
- I constantly work to improve, increase and hone my skills and talents.
- I work, every day, on weaknesses to make them my strengths, as described in Ether: And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)
- I learn as much as I can, actually thirsting after knowledge.
- This nation my ancestors fought to create, and then preserve, is left to me, and all American citizens, to maintain and defend.
So this idea percolating in my head is beginning to come alive. I will not face my ancestors and say I had not the courage to proceed. I will not say to them I wasted the opportunity and privileges they died to make sure I would have. I will not say to them I treated the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a casualness, never understanding the full potential of what they fought to provide for me. I will not say to them that I took the sacrifices and Atoning Gift of Jesus Christ and turned my back on Him.
I will live up to the expectations of my ancestors. I will honor them and their sacrifices. I will fulfill my divine and mortal potential. I will.
This, I believe, is honoring my ancestors.