My longtime friend Thomas Rogers was at our house tonight, and he brought with him a page of quotations that he thought might be helpful to me in my grief for my brother.
I’m grateful to Tom, and I share them here in hopes that others, in whatever situation they may find themselves, might see special meaning in one or more of these:
The first is from Hugh B. Brown (1883-1975) , an eloquent and well-beloved counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during my formative years:
“Death,” said President Brown, “is not an extinguishing of the light. It is a putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come.” (Improvement Era [June 1967], 26)
That is an extraordinarily powerful comment.
The second comes from the distinguished Latter-day Saint historian Richard L. Bushman.
“The fact of the matter,” Richard writes, “is that I find goodness in my Latter-day Saint life that I find nowhere else. When my mind is filled with scripture, when I speak to the Lord in prayer, when I comport myself in the way of Jesus, I am the man I want to be. I feel wisdom, concentration, compassion, and comprehension to a degree beyond anything I have known as a scholar or a teacher. I do everything better under the influences that radiate from the Latter-day Saint religion. I am a better father and husband. I give more to my children. I connect with the poor and needy. I counsel my students more truly. I am more unselfish. Moreover, I like what the religion does for my fellow Saints, both longtime members and new converts. It welds us together into a community of mutual trust and aid. Latter-day Saints, in my experience, are people of goodwill. They give to each other and to worthy works of every kind. We care for each other the way Jesus said we should. The experiences in my own congregation have persuaded me that nothing is more likely to improve the world than conversion to the beliefs I have treasured all my life.
“As a scholar, I know full well the doubts of agnostics. I know that the scientific worldview, now dominant among intellectuals, appears to exclude traditional belief. I have dealt with the arguments against belief all my life. But over against these, I place my own intimate experience of goodness among the Latter-day Saints.” (Why I Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 2002], 42)
My experience has been very much like Richard’s. I’m a better person, and life is better, when — to use a Latter-day Saint idiom — I’m in tune with the Spirit.
The third is from a poem entitled “Finding Place,” by the Latter-day Saint poet Doug Talley:
In this life we find the peaceable kingdom
within, then above, beneath, and all around.
What can a person driven by grandiosity
know of the quiet, hidden God found here?
(I hope I’ve gotten the lines right.)