I was a mischievous boy disturbing Primary classes for conscientious teachers in Southern California when something happened that changed me at a profound level. The Junior Primary chorister came into the class one day and told us she was going to teach us a new song. She would sing it for us and then we would sing it with her. I listened while she sang, “The golden plates lay hidden deep in a mountain side until God found one worthy in whom he could confide.” She had a high soprano voice and it carried me to Palmyra. I could clearly see in my imagination the young Joseph Smith and though I did not comprehend at the time the testimonial endearment that was being instilled in my heart I loved him; believed that what he told people had happened to him really did happen and what’s more I too wanted to be a boy in whom God could confide.
That was the first time I had been to Palmyra, a spiritual journey not a physical one, but a journey nonetheless. Years later the dream, born on that Primary morning, of actually walking among the trees where Joseph prayed and of climbing the hill that revealed the golden glow of ancient Nephite records was fulfilled. It was here, in this frontier community of farms and fields that Joseph taught us the great encompassing and over-arching lesson of his entire life. Perhaps he was given to us by God to teach us one grand truth alone, for the theme of his life was introduced in a Palmyra wood and on a hillside.
I pondered that theme as I walked one spring morning alone through the Sacred Grove. I think it instructive that there is only one place in our religious literature that we grace with the title “Sacred” and that is among the trees where Joseph prayed. I opened Joseph’s account recorded in the Pearl of Great Price and read again the old familiar phrases which have become such a part of my soul’s furniture and which constitute in such perfect fashion his life’s instructive message.
“I was an obscure boy…a boy of no consequence in the world.” Can we not all relate to that self-description and the humility behind it? Is it not true of us all and yet God speaks to the “obscure” of the earth! “I have been induced to write this history to… put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts…” It is the inquirers after truth that the Restoration is addressed to, and I wondered as I walked beneath the newly budding leaves if I was such a one. Certainly Joseph was and he showed us the grand potential of one for whom truth was as necessary as the air he breathed. His whole life was a continual search for truth.
To read the rest of this article, go to the Fun for Less website. This article was originally published October 5, 2011.