Thursday, April 17, 2008

Springtime Musings

In mid-April it appears the perils of the winter are finally past. Spring has finally arrived. Dogwoods, redbuds, daffodils, crocus, lazuli buntings (very rare), robins and our ever present over flights of turkey buzzards (more later) announce the changing season. But, while running errands in a nearby town yesterday I spotted the surest signal of all. I came across a brace of Mormon missionaries in their traditional plumage: black pants, white shirts, neckties, black name tag/pocket protectors with scriptures and tracts in hand.

Walking down the middle of the street (no sidewalks,) they were identifiable at least three blocks away. As I passed, I waved encouragement and they smilingly returned the gesture. Two well scrubbed young men with close cropped hair whose eagerness shown on their sunlit faces. I appreciated the normalcy of the occasion and it triggered memories from long ago.

In 1948, I had driven a car which belonged to a friend of my Dad to California from Iowa. It sounds bizarre today, but I hitch-hiked home. On the trip back I had experiences coming through “Mormon Country” which established life long interest and preparation to be a Latter Day Saint. One of my many “rides” dropped me off in front of a LDS center in Cedar City, Utah. There on the porch, I had my first encounter with missionaries. Paired, even on their home ground, they were eager to share their testimonies and after a long conversation gave me my first Book of Mormon. I enjoyed the interchange and was grateful for the book. Pressed by coming darkness we had our farewells and I continued on.

The next day, Sunday, about thirty miles from Vernal, Utah, I was picked up by a Bishop on his way to services at the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. He invited me to share with them, with the further enticement of dinner later after the meeting. I didn’t realize at the time it involved a place of prominence on the dais but thankfully, no speaking role in the four hour service. After all, what Methodist Youth Fellowship leader could resist an opportunity of such magnitude? What I didn’t fully realize at the time was that carrying a Book of Mormon was my passport to all the fellowship and benefits a stray hitchhiker could enjoy. They were gracious hosts, great cooks, and the initial formers of my opinion of Latter Day Saints which has never dimmed over the decades regardless of who used the scripture.

Although it had little to do with the faith, a young Uintah lad helped me get the 7½ gallon hat I bought at the trading post shaped like his. To my horror he plunged it into a rain barrel and then formed it properly. It was my constant companion during the next twenty years until my spouse announced that it was either the hat or she that would have to go. I still had it when I was baptized at the RLDS church in Bedison, Missouri in 1967.

It would be over twenty years after that baptism that the young men I spotted in town were born! My understanding of Lehi, Nephi, Moroni, Alma and the other beloved figures in the Book has enlarged over the years but it doesn’t lessen my thanksgiving for those who first exposed me to it. My appreciation of the Church of Jesus Christ was certainly enhanced by their efforts.

I promised in the first paragraph to enlarge upon the turkey buzzards. As a firm believer in intelligent design, I would be quick to offer these magnificent birds. Aloft, they present the ultimate in style and grace. Riding the air currents in search of carrion they present an air show of incomparable proportions. In flights of eight to ten, they circle about, soaring, diving in an age old pattern of ground surveillance, beautiful in its simplicity. Once on the ground and out of their element, they are because of their naked red heads and necks some of the most repulsive creatures God ever created. However, once one comes to understand their feeding habits, it is possible to appreciate their appearance – not to mention their efficiency. I guess it all comes down to not questioning God in perfecting these very necessary scavengers.

It’s Spring; a time for reflection and renewal. My prayer is that you all may all enjoy this blessed season.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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