List to the sound—that rolling chime,
Hark! ’tis the busy knell of Time;
The year has gone,
And borne along the hopes and fears,
The smiles and tears of multitudes unknown to song.
E. R. Snow16
The closing year of 1905, which is the hundredth birthday of the Prophet, stirs my mind with a multitude of thoughts.17
In fancy I go back to my childhood and youth in Virginia18—elders come crying, “Repent and be baptized for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,”19 and, as of yore, I am stirred with the glad tidings of the restoration of the gospel of Christ;20 once again I gather with the Saints in Missouri, and hear the horrid yells of the mobbers as Joseph and Hyrum are captured by them.21 I see the wounded and dying; I am driven from Missouri but meet with joy at Quincy, in a conference of the church, Joseph and Hyrum, and the apostles, who are there called to labor in Europe.22
The Prophet I recall and his wondrous spiritual power, intelligence, loving kindness, and great goodness of heart!23 His sermons, sayings, the organization of our own Relief Society in 1842.24 His revelations, persecutions, martyrdom, and the grief of the Saints thereat. There is little left save our homes and families in this world, but the gospel becomes even more to me. Now follows the burning of our homes and the forced exodus from Nauvoo in the dead of winter.25 The elements rage upon and about us, but we are able to endure, to rest at last, though in the shadow of death, as it were, for here we part with a multitude of our loved ones.26 But, rising from our weakness, in obedience to the servants of the Most High, we proceed, crossing trackless plains, fording swollen streams, scaling rugged mountain heights, and descending into “The Valley,” to find rest from persecution and comfort in the desert.27
All the events of those trying years unite today, revealing to me, in the evening of life, the overshadowing importance of the plan of salvation. A comforting message from the Giver of all good seems to give me this sweet assurance that naught that was suffered and naught that was accomplished, no matter how dear the price, was without avail; yea, our wounds were seared over with wisdom, pain gave birth to patience, and our martyred Saints rose, peradventure, our best petitioners in the courts above.28
And I am convinced that it were better to be faithful and enduring to the end, showing worthiness in overmastering self and upholding the standard of truth, than to rest in apathy and ease, forgetful of God and unmindful of the weak, the weary, and desolate.
It is good to reflect on the past, but beyond and above its shades of sorrow and errors, our duty ever rises before us.
Soothe the sad, succor the oppressed,
Visit the widow and the fatherless.29
To go from house to house, seeking out the poor, the cast-down, minister to the sick, lay out the dead, gathering and distributing, as you have done, my sisters, for so many years, gifts and donations for relief.
And yet we have a larger mission—to teach the mother to rear her young in simplicity and in truth and virtue, that happy home circles may abound in our midst.30
And yet we have still a greater mission. We faint not in our efforts to teach others but display a great lack of true religion when our own faults remain unmended. When will we learn that the beam is in our own eye and the mote only disturbs the vision of our neighbor?31
We are called upon by the still small voice, a whispering from our Father, to work out our own salvation.32
Briefly the constructive parts of the plan of salvation are these: What man is, God once was; what God is now, man may be;33 the glory of God is intelligence.34 Nothing can be annihilated and no act lost.35 It is impossible to be saved in ignorance.36 The Spirit of God, which is the Holy Ghost and the Comforter, surrounds us and pervades the universe, and is the medium by which we may receive the inspiration of God toward intelligence and through which it is our right to receive comfort; and finally that faith, hope, and charity are necessary for divine grace, but that the greatest of these is charity!37
Therefore it is plainly necessary that women, as well as men, cease not while life lasts to study diligently for the knowledge which is of greatest worth. To me the best step towards this is for us to throw off the curse of drudgery by learning to do our work so well that we will love to do it and have cause for rejoicing over the achievements of our hands.
Let us learn of the handiwork of God by the study of nature, search out her flowers, her moods, her laws. Let us study to improve our thoughts, reaching up toward our Heavenly Father, praying for the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
Let us improve our language in our homes and among our children, that our words be not idle, complaining, nor vain, but, as nothing can be lost, cheerful, hopeful, intelligent, reflecting a charitable spirit.
Let us open the books of life and salvation and study also the great authors, poets, and painters, that our minds may be clothed with intelligence and our hearts abound with human feeling.
And here I am inclined to offer a thought for the year’s work before us. With our multifarious duties we may not be able to call upon some aged or invalid sister, to cheer her, but we may lend her a book to read at pleasure, and peradventure to the strengthening of her purpose, the cheering of her life, and the edification of her mind. Likewise after reading a good book, pass it to a sister, saying, “I commend this book to you. It has instructed me and may edify you, and when you have read, return, that I may lend again.”
Another thought: Having done your part well, be satisfied to relinquish the load to some stronger woman when you become weary.
And now my sisters, God’s choicest blessings be upon you, and peace be with you.