“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins


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I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2 Nephi 1: 8-32 "Inheritance: the security of thy seed"


Inheritance: gifts that pass from one generation to another

video
Christine Conkey reading the Beatitudes from the Bible 

In the early 1990's when I would visit my grandmother Christine at her Michigan farmhouse she would give me small nicknacks from her kitchen. I have a small tan and white cream cow, a gold trimmed 50th anniversary cup, and a few of her favorite recipes.  Well into her eighties she realized that the time for collecting life's tangible things had passed and she began to distribute them as gifts to her grandchildren.  Likewise, my grandfather Hal gave me a few of his smaller art prints and had me sign my name to the back of one of his larger pieces, to be given to me after his passing. These small tributes were but a small part of my Conkey Family inheritance. As I consider these heirlooms in my life, I realize that the greatest gifts I have receive from my grandparents are not tangible things.  I have found my greatest inheritance in their words, their love for family, their way of life and their faith in one another and God. 

Inheritance has long been associated with the "passing on of properties, titles, debts, rights, and obligations upon the death an individual." (m-w.com) Inheritance is meant to help the next generation obtain the necessary security to move forward with their life. For most of the world this security is wrapped around monetary wealth: i.e land and property, art, furniture, keepsakes. But as I read and reread the first chapter of 2 Nephi and considered what was it that Lehi wanted to convey, I began to see his vision of a worthy inheritance to his children. 

Lehi was mindful of his imminent death. He says, "a few more days and I will go the way of all the earth" (v14) He is preoccupied with what gift he will give them. And before he begins into this he recounts the great gifts that the Lord has bestowed on his family: history(v 1), mercies(v 2), warnings (v 3) and even the physical land of promise (v 3). And as if to help soften the blow of what he cannot give them he reminds them of how all of the wealth and land and social position which they had obtained in Jerusalem was gone. (v 4) He reminds them of how fleeting these "gifts" are and he begins to teach them and remind them of a greater gift, the gift of eternal life itself.  

video
Hal Conkey singing his rendition of "How Great Thou Art" 

My own grandparents gave me a greater gift. As I watch my grandfather sing his favorite song, "How Great Thou Art," or see my grandmother reading "The Beatitudes"I am reminded of my greatest Conkey Family gifts of inheritance: self expression, good books, a love of learning, a desire to do good,  love for one another, a love of poetry, and above all their faith in a God capable of the love, the strength, the vision, and insight to give a  security which material possessions could not bring.

Lehi begins in verse 5 to reflect on the great gift of the promised land the Lord had given them through bringing them here. Here in this new land they would not face captivity from other nations, they would not even  have to worry about the other nations knowing about their existence. They would not have to worry about the land being nutritionally depleted but in stead it would help them to "prosper"(v9). In deed if they would keep their desires and focus on their faith  they were assured prosperity and protection.

I remember my grandmother speaking of Scotland (she was 100% Scottish) like she had been raised there. Only 2 generations from it's shore, her paternal grandparents and her maternal g grandparents had all been born in Scotland. The stories she told reverberated with love for a distant culture but mostly for respect for the blessings the new Canadian land had brought to her family. Here in this new land the Conkey's were free from political turmoil, religious constraints, and farming blights.  The 1848 potato famine hit Scotland as well. In addition the 1840's saw many highlanders evicted and forced into immigration. I remember my grandmother singing songs of the highlands and recalling her grandfathers love of the Argyle Highlands. She had such a happy and merry voice that carried me with her across the pond to where my fathers plowed and my mothers made fire.

Lehi continues to recount the outcome of what could happen if his posterity would ever forget the mercies of the Lord in their life. What he wants is for them to remember both the "statutes and judgments" (v 16) of the Lord. Like any good organization Lehi's family understood the basis of rules and consequences. His discourse is merely trying to remind his children that the Lord's goodness comes to those who remember his statutes and give respect to his judgments. He wants his children to keep their prosperity in perspective with what is true prosperity and from where all goodness comes. 

My grandmother always looked for the good. I remember a few conversations with her where she might have been overcome with worry for struggling family members, but she always remembered the good their spirits brought to the family. And she managed to keep my grandfather's high ideas down to earth and help him realize the most important things in life revolved around family. He loved to write and always wanted to write the next great novel, but family commitments, financial obligations, and the tedium of day to day life kept him grounded. In the end, the greatest story he ever wrote was upon the hearts of his children and grandchildren. It was the love story that he and my grandmother shared as they worked together to "secure their seed" with the goodness of their inheritance.

The word "inheritance" can be found 185 times in the Old Testament.  It is also found  58 times in the Book of Mormon. In my recent readings of Abraham's story of how God gave him the blessing of an eternal inheritance I was impressed with his desire to teach the next generation the necessary truths needed for eternal life. The fact that Isaac was not born to a young Sara was key. The fact that the Israelites wandered 40 years in the wilderness was key. The Lord wanted to preserve the goodness of his "inheritance", the belief that we are spiritual children of an eternal God. Lehi wants the same. My grandparents may not have understood the eternal nature of life as Lehi did, but they did believe in it and they wanted what all parents want for their offspring: goodness, happiness, and the tools to succeed.
video
Fiddle by Robert Shaw Guitar Linda Shaw 



Of all the tools they shared, I am reminded mostly of the mirth that my parents had for life.  In 1993 when these videos were taken grandmother was nearing her 90th near and grandfather was in his 94th year of life. And yet they were happy enough to dance around the living room and rejoice in their life. I hope that this is the legacy that I can leave my children.  An inheritance of goodness, of spiritual truth, of love, of joy, and mostly of the gift of the Holy Ghost that will help them discern between right and wrong as they navigate their own course in life. As they step out to dance their own steps around their own  living room.


2 comments:

  1. That video of Grandpa singing is one of my favorites. I haven't seen it in years! Thanks for the reminders.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Made me cry to think of the tremendous inheritance that Grandpa and Grandma left us. You have captured it very well here. Love Curtis

    ReplyDelete

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