Last weekend my daughters and I went on a pilgrimage. I know Jews feel compelled to make the “Aliyah” to Israel, and for Muslims the “haj” is to Mecca. As a Mormon woman, I feel like I should similarly be drawn to Palmyra, one of our LDS Holy Lands. Yet I’ve never felt the pull. Then I found out that the son of some dear friends was getting married there and having a reception in Rochester. I love these people. From Boston where we live, that’s less than a 7 hour drive. Next thing I knew we were cruising down the 90, blasting the mix-tape of hymns we call “Spirit-Chill Tunes,” and hieing to Kolob at 80 mph.
We arrived in Palmyra on Sunday afternoon. My 6 year-old was restless so I skipped the tour and instead headed straight into the Sacred Grove. I hoped that strains of “Oh How Lovely Was the Morning” would be echoing in my kids’ heads as we made our way down the path. We sat on a bench and I tried to steer the conversation to something spiritual but my First Vision talk just got the six year-old locked on to which spot was the spot and where were the gold plates and could she hold them if she did so gently (thank you Martin Harris Jr.). The middle child (who suffers from JBS–Jan Brady Syndrome) became upset because all I do is pay attention to the little one. Sigh. Then a mosquito bit her. So much for serenity.
We took the southern exit and meandered towards the barn. And in this short journey some nice little moments took place. My oldest hopped over a fence and wandered the fields, clearly enchanted by the place. The youngest found a water pump that she said she could just tell Joseph had used and wasn’t that as good as seeing the plates (never mind that it couldn’t be more than 40 years old)? The middle spotted the most amazing dragonflies by a creek. They were bright turquoise and iridescent and as we watched them, the birds in the apple trees serenaded us. “Music ringing through the grove” indeed.
As for me, I enjoyed it all. The Smith farm, Cumorah, the Grandin Press. But it wasn’t until we were sitting in a little shop eating sandwiches that I was able to look at my lovely girls and truly feel nearer to God. I took a giant sip of my Diet Coke and said out loud to whomever might be listening, “All is well. All is well.”
Where are your sacred places? If you’ve been to Palmyra, Nauvoo, Jerusalem, did they live up to your expectations? And most importantly, what songs would you put on your spiritual mix tape?