Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This is the place...

Over one hundred and sixty years ago, Brigham Young waltzed into the the Salt Lake Valley, stuck his cane in the ground and said, "This is the place", and people have been here ever since.

Actually, it wasn't quite like that. What really happened was that the "Mormons" were persecuted and driven for their faith, endured mobs, murders, raping and any number of untold horrors. Their Prophet, Joseph Smith, was slaughtered. And finally, as a climax to the madness they were driven out of their beautiful and beloved city of Nauvoo that sat on the banks of the Mississippi River. They had no alternative but to move again. So they bid farewell to a people that hated them, and a government that had done basically nothing to protect their rights and freedoms. They decided to head West.

Brigham Young assumed the role as leader and directed the amazing and monumental trek of the Mormon people westward to the desert valley of the Great Salt Lake. After months of careful preparation and then trekking across the vast plains, they arrived at the mouth of what is called emigration canyon today. Brigham was sick in one of his wagons, and the driver pulled around so that he could sit up and look out at the valley. After sitting for some time and gazing out at the valley, he replied, "This is the right place" and bid the driver to continue on.

What followed was the struggle of a people to carve an existence out of a harsh desert climate that was totally different then anything that they knew or had previously experienced. Here they would build Zion. Here they would live their faith, free from persecution, free from the influences of the wicked world around them. And here, they would be free.

Their isolation was short lived, but their pioneer spirit and their faith shaped the Great Salt Lake Valley as well as the surrounding areas, and their legacy still lives on today in uncounted ways.

I suppose that each one of us longs for a frontier. Our own frontier. Our own challenge. When we are young, each one of us wishes to "fight the good fight", and come away victorious. Some people have put it to sleep, but it's still there inside. A spark of our better self.

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