So last week after our conference in Springfield, instead of joining the post-conference tour, Janiece and I had our own tour. First was Carthage, a place where I ironically always feel a deep sense of respect and sacrifice there--the air always seems somber.
We arrived in Navuoo at the same time the tour buses got there. The best part was that the Community of Christ had opened their buildings for the tour members to visit. So we joined some of our favorite and most knowledgable Nauvoo historians and wandered around the Mansion House, the Smith Homestead, and the Red Brick Store. We asked every question we ever had, and we took our time. It was a historian's heaven.That night we went to a reader's theater about the Carthage trials. By then, it was 10:00 on a Sunday night in a very, very small town. You try finding something to eat in those circumstances. We ended up at a gas station convenience store (Casey's, for all you Midwesterners), where they whipped up some chicken fingers and potato wedges. I won't lie--I was pleasantly surprised. We enjoyed the deluctable repast in our very own reconstructed log cabin as we watched a Red Box dvd. Talk about the juxtaposition of the centuries... quite the anachronism.On Monday we braved the misty rain and went to the Nauvoo temple for a session. Now sometimes I grumble about the Disneyland-esque Williamsburg effort at recreating one of the most difficult times in Mormon history. The brick buildings and green gardens and dirt roads hearken back to an idyllic, harmonious time when the majority of people lived in log cabins no longer extant, suffering from malaria, poverty, political downturn, and mild confusion, surrounded by mud, apprehension, and persecution. But the temple. Its construction provided a means on which to focus their energy. Worship there literally allowed them to transcend their lives and situate themselves in eternity. I love the efforts to reconstruct the ninteenth-century temple--the carpet patterns, dark wood and deep, bright murals, the windows and carvings. But most importantly, that same worship. The same hope and belief in God and in exaltation. The same effort to come to a reckoning and an understanding. The price was steep, but the benefits extended well beyond those original stone walls.We stopped in Warsaw on the way back to Springfield--the sleepy has-been home of the Warsaw Expositor, the newspaper that sort of sparked the martyrdom and eventual extermination order. Another interesting juxtaposition.