I've been sick all week, and today is Sunday. I stayed home from church today since I didn't have much of a singing voice (I teach the children in our church, songs) and am constantly blowing my nose; thus, I felt it proper to stay home and not share my germs with others. I decided to watch this movie I had just bought, but had yet to see. John wanted me to wait for him to come home, but by nature, I'm impatient. I thought it was a good movie to watch as well, being as I was home and wanted some spiritual upliftment. The movie was 17 Miracles, by T.C. Christensen. And wow, did that box of tissues come in handy, but this time for my eyes, not my nose.
For those who are not familiar with this movie, or why it would be meaningful to those who belong to the church I attend, let me explain..... it COULD become meaningful to you too, regardless of what religion you belong to. This movie dramatizes many events, or miracles, that happened while men, women & children from England, traveled across the United States to their "Zion", Salt Lake City, UT. The trials and tribulations they went through, at a time of year, to some who thought it was not wise to cross the plains with winter approaching, had a profound effect on them personally, their posterity, and to us, who hold these pioneers dear to our heart for the sacrifices that were made for them to reach their "freedom" of religion and to live in peace, and be among those they felt a bond with.
As I watched this movie, and absorbed all the feelings that came with help of powerful music, touching scenes of loved one's dying on the plains, and faith being tested to a degree most of us cannot fathom, I was again, reminded of how very blessed I am. Some might look at these miraculous events and think, "I don't believe it, couldn't happen, they're making this up, miracles don't exist today." I would urge you to take a second and look around you, for if we cannot recognize the miracles that surround us each day, we are truly missing out.
What I took most from this movie is this.... "What precedes a miracle? FAITH". Each one of these members of handcart companies displayed faith in one form or another, a certain degree of faith; some had less faith, some pushed, literally, for more. I look at the pioneers and it is obvious to me how their trials differ from ours today. Theirs (again, this is in my eyes only) seem to have been more physical, while ours, in this world we live in now, seem to be more of a moral nature. Regardless of what our trial is, they all take faith to endure them.
Some miracles in the movie involve receiving food from an unknown man, when there is none to be found, lives are spared when they, in the face of many who witnessed, should have been lost. In the movie, a mother buries her infant along the trail. I have buried an infant. I KNOW the pain. I KNOW the heartache. Where is the miracle in that loss? The miracle, for me, lies within myself. A knowledge that I WILL be with my daughter again someday. The knowledge that life does not end when our bodies die. And that life, simply put, DOES GO ON.
I thought of each of these events, all of which are true, and the people who lived them. What faith they HAD. What examples they are TO ME. One woman said, "It will all be worth it if my posterity keep the faith." And faith she had. Another woman asked, "Where is the Lord?". You can look at this question several ways. You might think she's murmuring, wondering how the Lord could allow such deprivation. Or, how I like to think she presented the question, she is searching deep within herself to see evidence of the Lord's hand in such tribulation. She knows it's there, but needs some gentle reminders, because she does not want to doubt God's presence in all things. I don't think she was questioning God's love and awareness of her, but truly wanted to know how she could find the Lord's love through all this. I would simply say.... the Lord is IN our trials.
Trials are for our good, and while living through them we have to ask ourselves, instead of "Why me?" we ought to be asking, "What is it Lord, you would have me learn from this?" And once we ask in that manner, He will shower us with answers and blessings. But we have to be willing to receive them, as painful as the answer may sometimes be. As we were losing our baby in her battle of lung disease, I learned a very important lesson. I learned that it is God's will that should be ever present in my mind, not my will. He knew my heart, He knew what I would have desired, but when we put Him first, enduring the trial becomes easier to handle, because I realized He knew there were things I could never learn otherwise had I not gone through that particular trial. Upon coming home after McKenna's death, the Bishop from our church drove us home from the airport and asked us this question I will never forget. He said, "Would you do it again?" And I immediately responded, "In a heartbeat." And I meant it. God gave me more understanding, more knowledge in those short 4 months with our baby, than I could have ever imagined possible without that trial. I like to think those pioneers in this movie felt the same way.
Where are my miracles? They may not seem as grand as raising the dead, or feeding thousands from 5 loaves and fishes, although John and I experienced our own sweet miracles with McKenna. But when I stop the murmuring, allow myself to hear what God is telling me, and knows is best for me, that is when I recognize the many miracles that abound. The beauty of this earth, which is right in front of us, is truly a miracle to behold. Anytime I see a neo-natal intensive care unit, I am in awe of a child being born healthy and what a miracle THAT is, when there is so much that can go so wrong. When I see hardened hearts soften, lives changed from a downward path to a path in the right direction, those are miracles to take note of as well.
I am grateful I was able to watch this movie and once again be reminded of all that is miraculous in my life, in this world. Past president of the church I go to, Gordon B. Hinckley said this.... "I hope you never get over being thankful to them (the pioneers). Let us read again and again, and read to our children and our children's children, the account of those who suffered so much." The people depicted in this movie are an inspiration to me. If they could do what they did, then surely I can go through anything as well.