We have been experiencing a little taste of spring weather lately in Northern Utah. The other day it was unresistable, and I had to get out and enjoy it while it lasted! I believe I made my dog the happiest canine on earth when I told him to go and get his leash. We set off up the hill breathing in the fresh air and basking in the rare sunshine.
At the top of the hill, our street splits into a “T”. One has two choices. Either direction will follow a mountain ridge that provides a beautiful view of the valley below. This time, I chose the direction that requires more effort. It is hilly initially, however, I knew if I kept going this way it would provide a special reward at the end. Along the way, one passes a cemetery that borders the sidewalk. It was a particularly peaceful setting with spots of grass beginning to show hopefully through the snow, and a gentle breeze making the tree branches sway. I gazed across the gravesites that dotted the manicured hill as I walked past. There was a particular spot of ground marked with a stone bench, instead of the typical headstone. I could tell that there was a custom inscription engraved, but could not quite make it out, so I detoured for a moment to take a look. The family of the deceased chose to engrave a quote by Lucy Mack Smith.
Brief history background: Lucy Mack Smith was the mother of the prophet Joseph Smith, and is considered one of the great women pioneers of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was an exemplary mother, who taught her children to be hard workers and how to read and study the Bible. Although she had moments of great joy in her lifetime, she also endured indescribable suffering and tragedy. She was forced to leave multiple homes she settled because of persecution for her beliefs. Lucy endured unjust and illegal treatment, sometimes driven at gunpoint without even being able to retrieve cherished belongings. Some of her deepest heartache was losing those she loved most to death: infant babies, her oldest son Alvin, and her husband all to illness, and the devestating murder of her sons Joseph and Hyrum. I am sure there were untold sorrows carried in Lucy’s heart. However, this good woman remained true and faithful to her testimony of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. She chose not to allow herself to become bitter towards God or those who hurt her and her family. She was known endearingly as “Mother Smith”, and gave tireless christian service until her last breath. Knowing all of this, I found her words on the bench a glimpse into what sustained her – words that are encouraging and touching. Since I had my digital camera in my pocket, I am able to share this with you.
“We must cherish one another, watch over one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together“ – Lucy Mack Smith
Underneath this quote has been added the the words “Please – No Empty Chairs” and the declaration “Families Can Be Together Forever“. After reading these words and absorbing the message, I continued my walk, and was rewarded with a glorious view of the LDS Bountiful Temple. Tears suddenly came into my eyes. It was one of those moments I have mentioned when a daily event combines into a quiet message from heaven. An ordinary walk to remember. I felt the spirit whisper peace to my soul. The dead shall rise again. Families can be together forever. God our Father in Heaven does not want any empty chairs, and He has provided the way!
I’ve always loved walking around cemeteries–for the same reasons you mention here. Reading inscriptions on the head stones fills my mind with imaginings, and there’s something about those deep green cemetery trees, and their protective shadows over graves, that shouts of ongoing and vibrant life, whether on earth or in heaven.
This caught my eye because my sister’s family motto is “No Empty Chairs.” I love that idea. I also loved to read about your experience. It dawned on me one day when I was walking through a cemetery that our bodies are temples, and a cemetery is a temple ground; I think that’s why it has a sacred feel to it.
Thank you for stopping by my blog… you website is beautiful! I always enjoy finding other LDS bloggers. 🙂
I’m more than a little envious that you are already seeing spring… we still have mountains of snow here and are only just beginning to see pavement! The photo of the temple you attached to this post is incredible… how nice it must be to live so close to one. 🙂
I have a sign above our family picture, “Let there be no empty chairs in our heavenly home”, and below it, “God made us a family”. It’s wonderful when we’re all together here, and it’s my fondest desire that we can all be together forever.
I enjoyed your posting w/quote by Lucy Mack Smith
Thank you for the beautiful message. Can you please tell me where this cemetery is located?
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Hi Jolene – it is the Lake View Cemetery in Bountiful, Utah.