Jerry Hirst (1943-2010) has been writing all his life, but these two works are his first public offerings. Hirst is a native Californian who has made his home in Utah for the last 40 plus years. His technical experience comes from twenty years as a business analyst and technical writer. Hirst served over 11 years in the military intelligence community. He also brings a lifetime of experience in the Mormon culture and has served in many leadership positions in the Church. Hirst’s first book, My View, is a collection of earlier talks, articles, and poems on gospel subjects. The second book, Sliding, is an exciting future vision novel of last days LDS fiction.
The opening song was Awake, Ye Saints of God, Awake. I realized my skepticism was growing when I took particular note of the line: Or, saith the Lord, Ye are not mine!
Brother Charington stood and introduced himself. He gave a long and somewhat pretentious resume of his qualifications as though he was running for office. He paid particular attention to his academic and governmental honors, standing, and service. He then heaped praise heavily upon the congregation. They were the ones prepared to move ahead. They were the ones who could read the writings. They were strong and righteous. They should be rewarded for their faithfulness.
So much for the butter. . . .
Then it was time to talk of the higher laws. Those laws that the chosen had always been expected to rise to. Not for the weakest of the saints. Not for the average saints. Only for the very elect. The valiant would recognize the call. Had not the chosen always lived the higher principles? Could the regular saints be expected to rise to the standard? Were we willing to grab the banner of truth and march on ahead?
Next came the warnings. Cast not these pearls at swine . . . .
“RUUUUN!!!” was the shout from the crowd.
And run they did–into, over, and through each other. Everyone was running.
The Lakes headed for the jeep. They got in but the jeep was pinned in. Doug tried to back up but in the rush to escape the trailer jackknifed and one of the ATV?s toppled off. They couldn?t move. The gasoline spill was only feet away.
“Run. Run. Run!” screamed Janet. Doug lost his shoe jumping out; but he ran. Soon with each step he was counting down like a bomb would go off.
“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3….”
WOOOOOOFFFFFF. Not a bang. More like a slow flash–but searing, consuming, expanding. They toppled headlong then immediately jumped up and ran some more. Janet stopped and turned to look. She froze in the moment. Doug grabbed her hand and jerked her with him, snapping her gaze and twisting her shoulder. Ten more steps and they felt the next flare. This one did go bang. It was the jeep. They stood in horror as the heat washed over them again. Now things were falling out of the sky. They ran again just as the first ATV blew.
James took a long pause. He knew the vulnerable spots in the county and most of the cities. He felt duty bound to keep his secrets. His words were measured.
“We will see human nature here just like everywhere else. Self preservation unglues all societies. The unprepared will turn to the ones with oil in their lamps. Even if the saints were perfect, there are enough here with no other aspirations than survival. And we know the saints aren’t perfect. I have no reason to believe that God won’t visit us with the same cleansing and sorting scourges as everywhere else.
“Our water comes as snow from God. We get our allotment every year. There will be sufficient. Many have still been putting the extra water on our lawns. Of course we can return our lawns to the desert they were meant to be. Distribution will be another problem. Fuel will dry up including firewood and the hills will be raided. Food will depend on personal stores. You will have to have it, and then you will have to protect it. Lawlessness will prevail because when the more part of the people ignores the rule of law, enforcement will fail.
“Those are the generalities. I know what systems might fail first but the overall answer is be prepared for both your temporal and spiritual salvation.”
“What about earthquakes?”
“I was talking about earthquakes.”
When Glenn brought her the newborn wolf cub, Angie had plans in the back of her mind. When he mentioned that a sheepherder had found the cub following a ewe in a high meadow and it couldn?t be coaxed away from its new mother, Angie moved her plans to the front of her mind. This cub was brought to the shelter because it would not take milk from a bottle, and Angie happened to have a cheviot ewe with a broken leg already in the clinic. Specifically, a new mother sheep that had just given birth to a lamb. The mutual attraction was immediate. This was going to be an adoption that would be hard to break. She named the wolf pup Paul, and his “brother” the lamb, Peter. Apparently “Mom” loved them both equally.
Angie made every effort to provide a loving nurturing environment for the boys. They played together in grassy fields and fed on their mother’s milk. They were held and loved, nursed and nurtured. They had no needs or wants. As they grew, Angie tried to shield out the evil and mistrust that encroached on her project. . . .
We came over the hill into Utah Valley just as light was breaking. There were fruit orchards and the large lake before us. Kind of a peaceful feeling to be home free. Home? We had never lived here. But we had visited often and it seemed like home. I even found some country music on the radio. There were a few more cars moving freely on the roads. Julie was stirring and she awoke to the empty road ahead. She wondered what day it was. I didn’t have a clue. A fire truck went by headed south. By the time we got to Springville, there were even more vehicles on the road. And it was very early. We didn’t have a phone to try since we left them at home when the EMP fried them both. I got off at the first Provo exit and there was a station that looked like it was still in business. . . .
Meridian of Eternity
. . .for just a moment in heavenly time the entire universe would focus on the mortal life of Jesus of Nazareth. The plan was finally going forward and if the spirits we all were had needed breath we would have been holding it in anticipation–for with that birth would also come death and depending on how that life was lived would come eternal death or immortality for all.
That lifetime on earth would be but less than an hour if calculated in heaven. That very hour in the middle of time. All time before was lived in anticipation and hope. All time after should be lived in peace and gratitude. All events on earth would be calculated from that center point. We number everything backwards before Christ—forward since that first Christmas. Maybe things are measured from that same center point in all of the Father’s creations. Is our meridian of time the meridian of eternity?
Patriot Dreams Come True
This season we pause to savor the blessings of patriot dreams fulfilled. Revolutionary patriots and faithful pioneers all envisioned a free and prosperous posterity harvesting amber waves of grain in the shadows of majestic purple mountains. If they did not actually view the future they at least knew the value of sacrifice and work. Each knew that rewards unrealized would create a legacy for their heirs.
We dwell in the heritage of those visions. And no people have been more blessed. In spite of the myriad of trials we encounter or create in our lives, the environment we grow in is as rich in opportunity, comfort, and freedom as ever enjoyed by any people. The fulness of the gospel envelops us and our temple watches over us. They could not have left us more.
Now is the time to trust our heritage and our God. Cradled in the blessing of patriot and pioneer dreams come true we have to ask, “Was their sacrifice worth it all?” They must have had a purpose. Everything we have been blessed with sets the scene for us to succeed in our quest for eternal life. Our forefathers have given us that which we would give our children: standards and discipline, peace and comfort, freedom and opportunity, truth and ordinances. Our greatest tribute to the patriots and pioneers is to trust the offering and make our lives worthy of their sacrifice.
Doctrine and Covenants
A warning to all men,
Declares the greatest covenants of heaven.
Through voice of warning, promises are made.
Thus by commandment God prepares our way.
And heavens unrestrained
Poured visions down like sudden summer rain.
Latter-day truth once scattered on the lands
Now rolls forth like the stone cut without hands
Arrayed in spotless white
The Savior standing on the Father’s right.
Their mortal eyes withstood the brightest sun.
We through them see the Father and His Son.
Their testament is sealed,
For by the martyrs blood was truth revealed.
The words they left will never leave again
Doctrines from God, and Covenants with man.
The testament is given.
Add this to all the witnesses of heaven,
And know that through the strength of righteous men
The powers and truths of God prevail again.
On the Path
. . . Dave was the Varsity advisor. We took the boys camping together. And we had great talks. But my favorite memory is of the image I have of the time we tired of the boys refusing to plan and prepare meals together. They seemed to enjoy cold cereal and colder hot dogs in their tents.
We took them to Stansbury Island to camp on the beach. We took a few extra preparations for our dinner. It’s amazing what you can cook in a small covered charcoal grill. And I will never forget the smile on Dave’s face and the anguish on the boy’s faces behind his as they circled our card table complete with white linen and candelabra and watched as we used our real silver to eat Caesar salad, Cornish game hens with an lovely orange sauce, fluffy rice with gravy, steamed carrots with pineapple glaze, and hot rolls. I don’t remember the dessert but the point had been well made by then. I can see Dave’s smiling face now. No, he’s laughing.
Dave is happier today than he has ever been
He feels saddened only by your mourning
His faith in an after-life has been confirmed
He appreciates the value of the covenants that he kept
He is free of pain
Free of discouragement
There is beauty all around
There is peace
He left here with a promise in his hand and in his great but weakened heart. He had his covenants and doctrines that are now to him truths confirmed.
By the Spirit
….but even good intentions may not be enough. Some times we don’t realize that those we teach are not receiving the message that we think we’re giving. Let me illustrate with a somewhat kinder, gentler example:
A programmer who worked in my office had brought her two young sons by late one afternoon. She introduced them to Dave who was working at a computer. The four year-old caught on fast. Soon he was running around asking astute questions like, “Hi Dave, is that your pencil?” or, “Hi Dave, what’s your name?” ..and so forth. He soon wandered into the back room where Mark was working on a different computer. He cheerfully greeted Mark with a friendly, “Hi Dave, what ya doin?” Well his mother overheard him and carefully explained that this was Mark in this room and the man in the other room was Dave. Now we were getting both “Hi Daves”, and “Hi Marks”. Pretty clever. But then the plot thickened. Time for a shift change. Depart Mark, enter Bill who sat down at Mark’s computer. Now, Bill and Mark are not really look-alikes. Mark is 24 and has a whole head of hair. Bill is about 39 and is totally bald. Well, it didn’t take long for our four year-old friend to come bouncing back into the room. He pulled up short, sized-up Bill carefully, and then confidently said, “Hi Mark, … Where’s your hair?” (To this day, when things get too serious around the office, that line always gets a laugh.)
His mom probably thought that she was tying the names to the faces, when she had really tied the names to the places.