Sunday, February 03, 2008

Reflecting on President Hinckley

I remember the first time I saw President Hinckley in person. Shortly after he was set apart as prophet, my family drove up for a regional conference in Washington. It was very exciting because we'd never lived in an area the prophet had visited before. I don't remember much of his talk, but I do remember his infectious optimism.

It wasn't until I was in college that I had opportunity to be in the same room with him again. Granted it was a large, packed stadium. Again I remember his sunny disposition. When you listened to him speak, you could tell that here was a good, kind man, and follower of Christ.

He always spoke of women with great respect and tenderness. Here is his tribute to his wife who preceded him:
"My brethren and sisters, at the outset, if you will bear with me, I wish to exercise a personal privilege. Six months ago, at the close of our conference, I stated that my beloved companion of 67 years was seriously ill. She passed away two days later. It was April 6, a significant day to all of us of this Church. I wish to thank publicly the dedicated doctors and wonderful nurses who attended her during her final illness.

My children and I were at her bedside as she slipped peacefully into eternity. As I held her hand and saw mortal life drain from her fingers, I confess I was overcome. Before I married her, she had been the girl of my dreams, to use the words of a song then popular. She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior. And now in my old age, she has again become the girl of my dreams."

Later on he spoke of the creation up to Adam:
But the process was not complete.

"For Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

"And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman" (Genesis 2:20–23).

And so Eve became God's final creation, the grand summation of all of the marvelous work that had gone before.

Notwithstanding this preeminence given the creation of woman, she has so frequently through the ages been relegated to a secondary position. She has been put down. She has been denigrated. She has been enslaved. She has been abused. And yet some few of the greatest characters of scripture have been women of integrity, accomplishment, and faith.

And this further in the talk:
There are some men who, in a spirit of arrogance, think they are superior to women. They do not seem to realize that they would not exist but for the mother who gave them birth. When they assert their superiority they demean her. It has been said, "Man can not degrade woman without himself falling into degradation; he can not elevate her without at the same time elevating himself" (Alexander Walker, in Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book [1923], 204).
Taken from the 2004 Conference Address

Another talk that touched my heart was a talk given on forgiveness.

I think it [forgiveness] may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed. There is so much of meanness and abuse, of intolerance and hatred. There is so great a need for repentance and forgiveness. It is the great principle emphasized in all of scripture, both ancient and modern.

He relayed a story of a terrible crime, deep sorrow, and forgiveness. Truly beautiful.

But really the sum of his character is in what he did.

He gave us the Proclamation on the Family, a plan for smaller numerous temples to bring temples closer to the members, Preach My Gospel for the missionaries, he traveled extensively to visit and fellowship with members all over the world, the Perpetual Education Fund was set up to help those in third world countries, relief efforts were directed to disaster areas all around the world, and lastly he emphasized kindness to all people regardless of creed, race or sex, by his gentle example. I know there are many other things I have not listed that others will.

I would add that may he rest in peace, but I believe he is quite busy doing good in heaven, with his beloved wife at last.

President Gordan B. Hinckley 1910-2008

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