Generally speaking, the hours between 3 and 6 PM are the most chaotic at my house. Nap time is over, kids are tired, hungry, home from school… the phone never seems to stop ringing, and despite my most hopeful wishing, dinner doesn’t actually cook itself.
Occasionally though, those afternoon hours that I spend with all four of my children allow for tiny moments of time that I wish I could freeze frame… a joke that made them all giggle hysterically, tears of laughter streaming down their perfect little faces…. a story, read by the oldest, younger siblings captivated into stillness by the story… or a walk on an unseasonably warm afternoon.
We took such a walk just a few days ago. We crossed the little gravel road in front of our house and walked in to the woods. The sun was streaming in through the branches of the trees, birds chattering above us…. Spring is almost upon us, and our afternoon walk reminded me of that Spring morning so many years ago when a singular experience in a grove of trees outside a little farm in Palmyra, New York set Joseph Smith, kneeling in sincere prayer to his Father in Heaven, on a path he never would have imagined for himself. I know many of my readers do not share my faith and may not recognize such a reference… if you feel so inclined, you can learn more about that morning here.
In this world, with so much fear and danger around us, I want my children to know, without a doubt what it is to feel God’s love. I want them to recognize His presence, and to live their life so that they are worthy of His companionship. As we stood there in the woods, the chaos of mothering suddenly still around me, the importance of teaching the children, infusing their little hearts and minds with a love for Jesus Christ, with a desire to follow His teachings, loomed over me. With no guarantee the children would actually respond, I sat the kids in a circle and ran back to the house to retrieve my ipod and portable speakers. There in the woods, we listened to the hymn “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer.”
I thought the moment might be done for when Sam leaned over and softly whispered, “Mommy, why are we doing this in the woods?” I smiled and quietly responded, “Because God made the woods, and Joseph Smith was in the woods when he prayed…”
“Oh,” he simply answered. Huh, I thought. The truth works.
I asked the children to close their eyes and imagine what it must have been like that fateful morning… They scrunched their little faces up in fierce concentration, eyes squinting shut while I told them what I know to be true… that God loves them, that he knows who they are, where they are… and for a moment, one tender mercy of a moment, I know they heard me.
As we walked back to the house, Sam reached up for my hand and said, “Mommy, I think we should call that our sacred spot.”