Thursday, May 29, 2014

Duck Beach 2014

Yes.  It's true.  I traveled to Duck Beach again this year.  The Outer Banks of North Carolina is such a beautiful region.  In fact, it is one of my favorite places on earth.  I love to watch the pelicans soar peacefully across the sky, or swoop down close to the breaking waves.  I love to watch little crabs scurry across the beach, or disappear into their holes in the sand.  I even love to watch the wind toss frothy waves of a tempestuous ocean to and fro, or blow billowing thunder clouds, charged with lightning, across the sky.  What a glorious earth!  To think, this planet is but a speck in the infinite expanse of the universe!  But what a speck!

This year I decided to go on an adventure.  Rather than fly toward the East, as I have done in previous years, I opted to drive across the country in my 1993 Honda Civic Del Sol.  From Provo to Denver, from St. Louis to Norfolk, my little white steed and I made the trek to Corolla, North Carolina.  The beautiful country side rushed by while I listened to the entire unabridged edition of The Count of Monte Cristo on CD.

This year I was fortunate enough to stay in a beach house called The Ritz with a group of stellar young men and women.  Before the residents began to arrive I took a short trip to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, the northernmost lighthouse of the Outer Banks.  Subsequently, there was the usual rollicking and frolicking upon the beach, the beach volleyball, the glow-in-the-dark dancing, the barbecues, the hot-tubbing and the various and sundry vacation shenanigans.  There were also the added bonuses of watching the NBA playoffs, eating delicious food, and exploring the sand dunes.  In the midst of all of the ruckus, I made sure to find some time to be still, to read (I also finished reading J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye), to walk on the beach, to sit by the ocean, and to listen.

As this excursion to Duck Beach draws to a close, and as the participants slowly begin to trickle back to their homes, I feel gratitude for the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the sky, and the beauty of each hour.  I feel grateful for this beautiful region on this beautiful speck that we call earth. Onward and upward!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Two Excerpts from Joseph Smith concerning the Gathering of Israel

On the Gathering of Israel

"Dear Brethren,

I am happy in being informed by your letter that your mission swells 'larger and larger'; it is a great and important mission, and one that is worthy of those intelligences who surround the throne of Jehovah to be engaged in; Although it appears great at present, yet you have but just begun to realize the greatness, the extent and glory of the same. If there is any thing calculated to interest the mind of the saints, to awaken in them the finest sensibilities; and arouse them to enterprise, and exertion, surely it is the great and precious promises, made by our heavenly Father to the children of Abraham; and those engaged in seeking the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah, cannot fail to enjoy the Spirit of the Lord, and have the choicest blessings of Heaven rest upon them in copious effusions. Brethren you are in the path way to Eternal Fame! and immortal Glory; and inasmuch as you feel interested for the covenant people of the Lord, the God of their Father shall bless you." - Letter to Orson Hyde and John E. Page, May 14, 1840,  Joseph Smith, Jr.

On the Effects of the Holy Ghost

"This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile though it may not have half as much visual effect upon his body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have new creation by the Holy Ghost. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.149)"