Jeff and I recently returned from a road trip to the Eastern United States. Most of the places we visited, I had visited several times before. My sister in law, Lynda and her husband Barry travelled with us, so we revisited some places we might not have bothered to see again.
The motivation to take the trip in the first place was to collect a bunch of stories for my newspaper/online column, Americana. It’s about everything good in America, so we went in search of interesting places, history, cultures and traditions. I’m set through the end of the year!
We also visited Church history sites. As many of my readers know, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe in living prophets and that the Churh is restored (and still being restored) to its New Testament beginnings.
The process of restoring the full, simple Gospel of Jesus Christ began when a young boy named Joseph Smith was troubled about what Church he should join. He read that God will answer our prayers and give us wisdom if we sincerely seek him.
So 14-year-old Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees near the cabin where his family lived. He found a private spot and knelt in prayer, asking “Which Church should I join?”
He was instantly attacked by an evil spirit. He felt smothered and overwhelmed. The Adversary was attempting to destroy him. But just as he was about to succumb to dispair, a beam of light appeared over his head. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ descended in the light and spoke to him, comforting him and instructing him that the complete Church of Jesus Christ was not on the earth and must be restored. He learned that he was to participate in that restoration and that he must prepare himself and keep himself worthy.
As we visited this place in upstate New York, near Palmyra, I contemplated the significance of what had happened there. It’s a rather ordinary grove of trees. The trees are younger than the cabin and The Church of Jesus Christ has groomed the paths and placed benches in quiet nooks.
As we strolled those cool, quiet paths, I thought about the other places on earth where God has visited prophets and faithful servants. An unidentified place on the road to Damascus. . .the entire road to Emmaus, Sinai, But it doesn’t matter the exact location where young Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.
While it’s true that it’s natural to contemplate the events of the Restoration in that beautiful place, each of us should have a sacred place. It might be a grove of trees or a rock by a stream. It might be a place in your home, a room in a hospital or in a temple.
I am of the opinion that if we seek to have our own sacred place, it is wise to find a place where we can be alone, quiet and unrushed: a place where we can wait on the Lord.
The important truth that struck me as I wandered the grove we call “Sacred” is that wherever we are, God, our loving Heavenly Father, will come to us. We can make any place of contemplation, any place where our heart is open, any place where we feel an outpouring of gratitude a place sacred to us.
Figurtively, God will come to us if we seek Him in the darkness of depression. God can come to us in our despair. God can come to us when we’re afraid, or feeling reverent.
God will come to us to fill us with his powerful, personal, intimate love. God will give us peace and confidence. God will come to us to give us courage and resolve. God will guide us as we humble ourselves and try to follow our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
I know that there are sacred places all over the world. They are places where God revealed his pure love, or even his person to people who seek Him. All over the world, in unknown corners, God has and does and will come to His children to teach us, help us, and to reveal His nature to us.
God will come to us, wherever and however we need to meet Him. More places, more days, more memories will become sacred.