My work, my ideas, my faith, my life

The Longest Nights of Human Experience

By Rex Goode

Punch Bowl Falls, Eagle Creek Trail

As a Latter-day Saint, the first full weekend of October is the General Conference of the Church of of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of it is broadcast on cable/satellite television. I watch it on the BYU channel. It always holds lots of meaning for me, and every once in awhile, has something that seems directly at or for me. Yesterday’s morning session held just such a moment.Before I talk about that, let me describe a trip to the Portland Oregon Temple with the youth of my congregation. It happened Friday evening. I rode from the church to the temple with two youth leaders. On the way there, they were talking about their cars. That’s not a very interesting topic for me. I drive a big truck and don’t really care about cars that much. There are other reasons I don’t care about cars that much, but I don’t want to get off my topic here.

The experience with the youth in the temple was good, as usual. I got to record the baptisms being performed. I like the jobs that keep my mind working. There didn’t seem to be many youth there compared to when I was a youth leader. I think that’s just because the ward has fewer youth in general.

The conversation on the way back the church turned to a concern of the Young Men’s President about planning for a high adventure for the coming summer. Youth aren’t like they were when I was young. They don’t do the amount of hiking and backpacking we did when I was a Scoutmaster. I reminisced about those days. Several times we built snow caves and slept in them. We did a few fifty mile hikes down the beautiful Pacific Crest Trail from Timberline Lodge down past Lost Lake, Wahtum Lake, and the amazing Eagle Creek Trail. I was just on the Eagle Creek Trail a couple of months ago.Pacific Crest Trail Emblem

Yesterday, during the Church’s Saturday morning session, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk called, Because of Your Faith. As of this writing, they have not put the text version of the talk on-line. You can only watch or listen to it.

The talk was an appreciation of the leaders of the Church for the members. I enjoyed it very much. After discussing on Friday night my experiences doing fifty-milers and snow-caving, Elder Holland jolted me with this:

And no less the brethren of the priesthood. I think, for example, of the leaders of our young men, who depending on the climate and continent, either take bone-rattling fifty-mile hikes or dig and actually try to sleep in ice caves for what have to be the longest nights of human experience.

I was stunned. Sometimes, I think the apostles of the Church have been listening in on my conversations and thoughts. Whether his words were intended for me or not, it felt good to be appreciated, even if indirectly. Those wonderful days of carrying around seventy-pound backpack over hill and dale were among the memories I cannot ever forget. Burning up my quad muscles trudging through deep snow and digging into it for a shelter, despite the pain and suffering, will always be a highlight in my life.

Yesterday, I had a neat feeling that for all the hard work of it, God appreciated it. One point clarification: once you get warm in a snow cave, morning, and having to leave it, comes way too soon.

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