Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell-
All is well! All is well!
We'll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away, in the West,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the saints, will be blessed.
We'll make the air, with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell -
All is well! All is well!
And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell-
All is well! All is well!
I think most of you know I am a sixth generation Mormon. My ancestors crossed the plains so that they could practice their religion in peace in what is now known as Utah. I love the pioneers. I devour their stories. I have been known to exuberantly over share their amazing stories with anyone who will listen. I liken my life to theirs all of the time. I feel an enormous connection with this group of people. I think about them way too much as I struggle through my life. When I got to be in charge of the logisitics for a pioneer trek of 80 youth and 30 adults two years ago I was in serious heaven :) When we sing pioneer songs at church or anywhere I fight the tears like a big dog. My heart swells as I think about what my ancestors were willing to do for what they believed in. Some of them died at the Hauns Mill Massacre for what they believed in. Some of them were driven from their homes for what they believed in. They all had to leave things behind. They all had to bury family members as the trekked across the plains. Some had to be rescued at the Sweetwater River. Some were in the rescue party at the Sweetwater River.
When I was a child my dad would play pioneer songs on our piano. In the room where the piano was my mom had this rug that was in the shape of a hexagon and it had alternating rows of the colors brown and yellow and I loved how perfectly my tiny feet would fit in each line. I can still feel the way that rug felt and I can still remember how much I loved the preciseness of the pattern in the rug. I would start in the middle of the rug and work my way out and then work my way back in while my dad would play pioneer songs and sing. And I would sing along at the top of my lungs. One of the songs goes....
"When pioneers moved to the west with courage strong they met their test they pushed their handcarts all day long and as they pushed they sang this song. For some must push and some must pull as we go marching up the hill for merrily on our way we'll go until we reach the valley-o." Yes, of course, I sang it out loud while I typed the words....duh :)
The pioneers did hard things. They had no idea where they were headed or what life was going to be like when they got there or if they would even make it there. But they did not worry. Did you read the lyrics I posted at the beginning of this blog? Those are the lyrics to my most favorite hymn, Come Come Ye Saints. It was written by William Clayton in 1846. It is one of the best known latter day saint hymns. William wrote it while the wagon train he was a part of was resting in Locust Creek, Iowa which is about 100 miles west of Nauvoo, Illinois. William Clayton was one of thousands of Mormons that were driven out of Illinois. My ancestors were with them. It was February of 1846. The weather was cold, wet, and miserable for pioneer travel. William had to leave a wife behind since she was expecting a baby soon and could not make the hard journey in her condition. Finally, about 90 days into his slow miserable cold wet journey William receives word that his wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy and in his relief he wrote the words to this beloved hymn....here is what he wrote in his journal...
Wednesday, 15th. Last night I got up to watch, there being no guard. The cattle and horses breaking into the tents and wagons. I tarried up then called S. Hales and Kimball. This morning Ellen Kimball came to me and wishes me much joy. She said Diantha has a son. I told her I was afraid it was not so, but she said Brother Pond had received a letter. I went over to Pond's and he read that she had a fine fat boy on the 30th ult., but she was very sick with ague and mumps. Truly I feel to rejoice at this intelligence but feel sorry to hear of her sickness. Spent the day chiefly reading. In the afternoon President Young came over and found some fault about our wagons, etc. In the evening the band played and after we dismissed the following persons retired to my tent to have a social christening, viz. William Pitt, Hutchinson, Smithies, Kay, Egan, Duzett, Redding, William Cahoon, James Clayton and Charles A. Terry and myself. We had a very pleasant time playing and singing until about twelve o'clock and drank health to my son. We named him William Adriel Benoni Clayton. The weather has been fine but rains a little tonight. Henry Terry's horses are missing and have been hunted today but not found. This morning I composed a new song—"All is well." I feel to thank my heavenly father for my boy and pray that he will spare and preserve his life and that of his mother and so order it so that we may soon meet again. O Lord bless thine handmaid and fill her with thy spirit, make her healthy that her life may be prolonged and that we may live upon the earth and honor the cause of truth. In the evening I asked the President if he would not suffer me to send for Diantha. He consented and said we would send when we got to Grand River.
Now scroll back up and read the words to that song again. If you feel really ambitious and you really love me you should go to Youtube and listen to the Mormon tabernacle choir sing it. If you feel really ambitious close your eyes and listen to it....I do love doing that :) Okay, wait, I know, if you feel really ambitious get in your car and head for the Wasatch range in Utah and as the sun is rising over the mountains listen to this song as you are driving along the freeway....trust me this is the very best way....and very practical :)
Aren't the words to this song so perfect? These words have supported me so much through these last three years. I have tried so hard to not be afraid of hard things. I have tried so hard to remember the importance of wending my way with joy. And that line that says "Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard? Tis not so all is right" Yeah, I think about that one a lot. It is so easy to get stuck mourning and thinking our "lot is hard". How many times have I had to "gird up my loins and fresh courage take" and remind myself that God never has and never will forsake me.
So as I now head West after twenty five years of living either in the Midwest or the East it is not escaping me that I am making a journey similar to that of my ancestors. No, they did not have fruit snacks, cheez-its, portable dvd players, and trains. My struggles are definitely different from theirs but my struggles are teaching me the same things they learned from theirs. I have to have faith. I have to have courage. And above all I have to know all is well.
So the possessions that matter to me and my children are in one pod and a half sitting in my driveway. Our last day in Massachusetts is Monday. My heart is so full. I am vigorously fighting the tears for all I am worth. I am grateful for dear friends who insisted on showing up to help me today. I had no idea how much I needed the help and support. I am so not focusing very well right now.
So next time you hear from me I will hopefully be on a train chugging West eating fruit snacks :) My goodbyes will be over so do not worry that I am going to rename my blog goodbye thinking everything or living in the past thinking everything ;)
I am sure some missing will be lingering but I am going to rarely indulge it and be looking forward with all my might hoping I will recognize where I should be and where I should go and what I should do.