This weekend was stake conference. Thousands of Latter-day Saints congregated in three different buildings to hear our local leaders - some via some pretty sweet WebCam technology. (Or something.)
Friday was the adult session. Baby-sitters were scarce (and we were lazy.) My Man won the toss-up and off he went, prepared to take scrupulous notes.
One of the stories he brought home touched me deeply.
The speaker: Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy. The time: his "younger years." The place: Mt. Timpanogos.
He and his wife had decided to hike this 11000 foot monstrosity.
As they huffed and puffed up the mountain, it got colder. They saw couples ahead of them turn around. "We'll come back when it's warmer," they said.
In many places, it was muddy and hard to find footing. More couples turned around. "We'll come back when the ground is more firm," they said.
The ascent became steeper. The climb harder. They stopped to rest, observing still more hikers on the trail headed home. "We'll come back when we're in better shape," they said.
Towards the top - so close, so agonizingly close - there was snow. In many places the freezing cold fluff was halfway up their shins, oozing down their boots to ice their tired feet. More people stopped. "We'll come back when there isn't any snow," they said.
The Arnolds were now alone. They looked at each other. They were tired. They were cold. But they had made a promise that they would climb to the top of Mt. Timp. Together. And they were going to keep their promise.
When they reached the summit - embracing and alone - they marveled at the view that God's hand alone could paint. They wept. And they vowed to each other, once more, that they would never stop climbing.
Each of us begins marriage with a promise. A promise to love each other forever. But too many fall back when it gets hard. When jobs are lost. When beauty fades. When character traits annoy or honeymoon passion is lost. When others look more interesting or disagreements become too often. "It got too hard," they say. "I only agreed to the easy stuff."
I am so, so glad for a hiking companion who sticks by my side. Through mud and steep inclines, through snow and rough terrain.
We made a promise.
And we're sticking to it.
images here and here