Orson Scott Card: Just a few handshakes away from Joseph and Brigham

We're putting on a play this weekend in our stake -- "Barefoot to Zion," a musical commissioned by the church for the 1997 sesquicentennial of the entry of the pioneers into Salt Lake Valley.

The play is set in the era when new converts were urged to come gather with the Saints. When the play begins, that gathering place is Nauvoo; by the end, it is Salt Lake Valley.

Near the beginning of the play, word reaches a branch near Manchester, England, that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed. A recently released bishop, Ned Jarvis, was cast as the branch president who breaks the news to the Saints.

Bishop Jarvis' daughters have been shining contributors to our plays for years, but this was the first of our plays he ever took part in. As he rehearsed his scene, I was struck by how beautifully and naturally he put his whole heart into the moment, and how genuine the response of the other actors was.

It was not until we got an e-mail from Bishop Jarvis a few days ago that we understood that there was more than mere talent involved.

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