Staying up late with a sick child, the bedroom door swung open and a dozen men with soot-covered faces burst into the room. Grabbing him by his arms and legs, they wrestled Joseph out of his house. Seized by his throat, he was squeezed until his body went limp while dragged to the yard. Joseph awoke in a meadow some distance away, still being held tightly off the ground by the men. Stretched out in the grass, half-naked and a few feet away was Sidney Rigdon. Forced across a wooden plank, Joseph was carried deeper into the meadow. His clothes were torn off, ready to be ‘mutilated’ with a knife, but instead had sharp fingernails across Joseph’s skin, leaving his naked body lacerated and raw. Recognized voices of friends or acquaintances were heard from the men who were attacking Sidney. A bottle of acid chipped Joseph’s tooth as it was attempted to be poured down his mouth by filthy hands forcing his jaw open. A paddle was forced to keep his mouth open and tar oozed over his lips, streaming into his lacerations and hair. Feathers were poured. Tearing tar from his sensitive lips, gasping for air, having been left for dead. Mangled beyond recognition, he asked for a blanket to cover his body and his wife faints. Laying in the field most of the night, Sidney was delirious in bed, teetering from life and death. Still, Joseph preached, baptizing three people when he finished.
OH LORD , MY GOD—— the last words spoken by Joseph Smith in this exact spot. His brother Hyrum was just shot dead when he darted for the window. As he straddled the windowsill, he was shot twice in his back & then right below his heart. ‘Oh Lord, my God!’ he cried- as his body fell headfirst through the window & down two stories to the ground. Willard Richards moved past flying bullets to look out to see if he was alive. Below he saw the mob swarming around Joseph’s bleeding body, still attacking him, even after no movement. The prophet lay on his left side next to a well. Offering his life as his testimony of the reality of the gospel we have in our laps right now. Maybe it was because I was at the sacred grove when I started learning with the missionaries – or maybe it was other things – but my awe and unwavering knowledge for Joseph and his life started long before I got baptized. And even after 10 years of deep study- ongoing growing love and unshakable knowledge for him, nothing could have prepared me for this moment when I stood in this exact spot. And felt.
I had most of my lessons with the missionaries in the sacred grove when I was learning about the church. My first prayer i‘ve ever said in my entire life was in that grove. My first video ive ever seen was the joseph smith full length movie, at the visitors cener right there in palmyra. I saw it so many times I still can recite it all.
I’ve stood where Joseph had stood, many times. I stood IN THE EXACT SPOT WHERE ANGEL MORONI APPEARED TO JOSEPH SMITH 3 TIMES IN HIS BEDROOM. Now, I know there’s a whole lot going on right now and a whole lot going on in the world. A ton of different viewpoints, a lot of passion, confusion, & so on. And it’s challenging, right? Trying our best to figure out what to do and what to say and what to stand up for amidst the confusion and the hurt and the passion and the conflicting – Or tiring or hurtful or exhausting. but– in that moment…in that exact spot… my heart … was beating so fast…and I felt my SOUL JOLT within myself. And in this moment, I felt ALIVE! And sure. And unstoppable. And whole. And I felt that…there is no way this gospel is not true and that this work is not true and God is not true and what we’re working towards is not true. It’s impossible. So yeah, maybe we sometimes find ourselves in the middle of the gunfire of the confusing and the challenging and the conflicting… but then we have these moments in our life…where we feel and experience…so deeply…and you just know that heart-pounding — soul jolting– feeling is from God and from this gospel. And I can’t deny that every time I have felt like that—I was living the gospel. And I was seeking after Him. ‘Cuz I sure as heck *never felt those moments that set my soul dancing *before I got baptized. I’m really grateful for those (sometimes rare) moments to help me stay focused on why we’re here and what we need to be doing. I know it’s easy to get distracted or discouraged or hurt or confused or caught up in–but I hope we always hold to hope…and I hope that we never deny, forget, or let passing time dim the reality of sacred experiences we have. And we take time to take a step back and be ELATED by all that we have and all that we know because of God and this gospel. I am elated that we have the literal answers to the questions of the universe. I AM ELATED to participate in a living, breathing gospel that grows through revelation daily. I am ELATED to participate in anything God sees fit, regardless of our narrow-mindedness and personal pursuits. How beautiful it is, to be part of it all. xoxAL
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