In my living room world, I struggled to hear around little children still jumping from couch to couch despite my frantic silencing and best efforts at containment. Teenagers shuffled and nudged one another and at the very pinnacle of testimony, wouldn't you know it, our rural internet connection glitched sending our screen into reboot mode.
Still, my brain fairly screamed, "Won't somebody please help him!" as my heart swelled with love for that great man.
He has, as Trimble pointed out, endured so much. A pure example of a doer of the work, he faces the trial of opposition, the weight of carrying such a large organization, the joyful burden of proclaiming truth, and the emptiness of walking the path more or less, alone.
In the day that followed such an uplifting conference, my thoughts revisitied a class taught by a particularly insightful college religion professor way back when. Had I been a little more of an attentive student, I could tell you his name. His thoughts centered around another "sinking" moment in time where the Son of God in His final moments, continued to do what He was sent to do. Lead and guide and walk beside even when the going got rough.
This professor made a very possible connection between Simon the Cyrene, compelled to assist our Savior's final burden of His cross carried down a crowded street, and Rufus whom later the apostle Paul hails as "one chosen in the Lord."
Simon the Cyrene, father of Alexander & Rufus as the scripture states (Mark 15:21), must have been well known among the Christian crowd. He's mentioned by name and lineage. I imagine him there on this day in Jerusalem having "passed by as he came from the country", a common bystander in that throng. Much as I felt on Sunday morning, I see him straining to hear through the hubbub, shifting to and fro for a glance through the chaos around him. The procession passing in front and the focal point of which, Jesus the Christ, stumbling to the ground under the burdensome weight of all things.
Rough soldiering hands grab at this observer and pushed toward the spectacle, Simon unsuspectingly finds himself assisting the Redeemer of all mankind through those final steps; not able to carry the absolute weight the Son of God was called to carry, but doing his small part to not leave Him alone.
I wonder what transpired there on both sides. What look? What word? What touch?
This particular professor of religion from my college days surmised that Rufus (Romans 16:13), later honored so highly by Paul, could very likely be that son of that same Simon. Somehow, in some way, that journey together to Golgotha had resulted in a change from casually passing-by Christian, to one rooted so deeply in faith, that posterity stood actively firm.
Monday night, I gathered with my family to rewatch the words of our loved prophet. The air was different. A cool evening called for a warm fire, pj'd little people, teens tired and gently conversational with hot chocolate infused by a dollop of pumpkin ice cream in hand. If Simon could cut through the crowded chaos and make a change for his family, by golly I'd redouble my efforts to do the same.
My heart burst wide open as, together with these kids of mine, I once again watched President Monson grow heavy as his message made me light.
In the discussion that ensued, we chatted about all of the ways we would be better. Our prophet had not only just served as our Savior's spokesman here on earth, but also as a metaphorical "type and shadow" teaching us the very core meaning of his words.
Carrying a load of worldly cares, Christ too had stumbled. What would we do in our daily lives to step forward as Simon and be the hands needed to lift when the burdens are heavy .. in our family, in our lives, in our world? Would we be compelled? Or would we volunteer? Even Jesus, in His final hours radiated enough light and goodness to be the change within Simon's own world of cares. Would we make sure that each interaction ... no matter how long or how short ... would pioneer the future? Would we make every look ... every touch ... every word ... count? Would we remain craning our neck in a crowd to look on, or would we be active participants. Could we quiet the distractions of life, not unlike that first viewing of the message itself, and truly notice those around us so we could actually hear the spirit lead and direct us to be the hands needed here on earth.
I felt the depth of these words I love:
"When you understand the Atonement,
then you understand the joy of being rescued."
then you understand the joy of being rescued."
-- M. Russell Ballard
I imagine Simon and Jesus locked in a powerful moment encircled by the truth of that very statement one to another.
Everything within me wants to be a part of that.
President Monson, I too would have held you up. But most importantly, inspired by your words that teach and your example that is even more than what you say, I hope to do a little bit better in using every day to step forward and within the reach of my ability, uphold my Savior as He gives His everything to lift up me.