Sunday, June 14, 2015


Kinder and more sensitive people would have referred to it as a very humble abode. We who are of a lesser ilk, would simply call it a dump. It should have been obvious to almost everyone that the land upon which the little shack stood would have been of greater value if the ram shackled blight upon it were removed.

As I was greeted by the proprietor I could not keep from letting myself think that he and the abode were certainly a matched set. I almost shudder to think what might have been my judgement if I had come upon this situation in my pre-mission days when I was really burdened with being overly critical and judgmental.

The errand I was on when I found myself in these unusual and interesting surroundings was a supervisory visit to call a seminary teacher for the youth of this small local branch for the Church Education System. My mind went swimming through a list of why a branch of the Church could be so bankrupt of resources that this was the only soul who could be recommended to be called to the important position of teaching their youth the principles of the gospel during their struggles of adolescence.

The greeting I received from the bent and bearded host, as he came to what with a lot of imagination could be called the door, was certainly multiple degrees warmer than my cold thoughts.

The next time I was actually conscious of the impoverished condition of my surroundings, I realized two hours had flown by and I was very late for my next appointment which was several miles up the mountain roads of north east California.

As I backed the car away from what seemed like a residence radiating with light, my head was lowered and bowed and I was overwhelmed with self-chastising thoughts and I wondered as I drove if I would ever live long enough to approach the wisdom and understanding of he who the Lord had chosen to teach his youth in this part of His vineyard.

I remember the eagerness with which I anticipated subsequent visits to this wonderful man who would become a mentor in so many marvelous ways as he made me a student along with his very fortunate young friends. His disabilities and meager government pension had not allowed him to maintain and accumulate the ‘normal’ pile of stuff we all spend our lives collecting, but he had accepted his circumstances, appreciated his sustenance and magnified himself and others many times over.

Although my beloved mentor had been denied what is haughtily called a ‘formal education,’ he became acquainted with the learning of the ages through the frequent use of his well-worn library card.

Although my friend had been ridiculed in his youth because of the defects which had accompanied his birth and had been shunned throughout his life because of his disheveled appearance, he had overcome all of this and had learned how to give love and kindness to all who would bother to give him the opportunity.

Although the honors of men had been kept from him, he spent his life being an honorable citizen and giving honor to his God and to his Savior, striving at all times to emulate the life they lovingly admonish all of us to live.

After making several more stops on what had turned out to be a very wonderful day and as the day was fading and the shadows of the beautiful pines of the Sierras were lengthening, I was on my way back home to Reno, Nevada. My head was still full of thoughts on my littleness and how far I needed to go on my path towards universal love and understanding of my fellows on this mortal journey and the development of my ability to judge righteously.

Should my judgements of others be based on philosophies, possessions, positions or posterities?

Should the value of another be measured by diplomas, dominion, dress or domicile?

Sadly, like little tin soldiers, we march lemmingly toward our individual cliff, eventually falling into very minimal lives, hastily judging our neighbor by the meaningless glitz and glitter of the manufactured adornments of the world and thereby denying ourselves of the opportunity to meet someone whose light emanates from within and miss those moments where love and gladness touch us and teach us hidden treasures.

As I came over the hill and the artificial lights of Reno, came fully into view, I had one final thought, ‘I have such a bountiful and beautiful life; a life which allows me to find pearls in the least expected places and which abounds in glorious experiences.”

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