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Touching Lives

Touching Lives

On occasion at the end of a walk in the Lake District, I’ve looked up at the route I followed with amazement. I remember standing on the Langdale Valley floor, gazing up to the heights of Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, the mountain ridges I walked that day, and thinking “did I really climb up there? Did I really walk across those fells?” It seemed so vast, beyond the strength and endurance of little me. Yet I’d done it! Not impressive for fell-runner or super-fit walkers perhaps, but not bad for a very ordinary hiker like me. If I looked at some challenges before doing them, I might turn away and never start but one step at a time it becomes possible. When I’m immersed in the doing of a task the immediate detail demands all my attention and I don’t dwell on the vastness of the whole project.

Of course, I’m not talking just about fell walking. We may be unaware of the effect we have on the lives of those around us in all sorts of settings. We may do immense good without realising it, and sadly we may occasionally cause harm. I’ve sometimes failed to appreciate the significance of events I’ve lived through and the profound influence others have had on me until much later. Looking back our perspective from the valley floor of time gives a different picture.

On Friday 20th November President Nelson, President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited members of the Church worldwide to flood social media with expressions of gratitude, each day for a week, using the hashtag #givethanks. He summarised his motivation in this quote:

“Over my nine and a half decades of life, I have concluded that counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems. No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a fast-acting and long- lasting spiritual prescription.

Does gratitude spare us from sorrow, sadness, grief, and pain? No, but it does soothe our feelings. It provides us with a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life.”

I enjoyed the #givethanks experience. I posted thanks for things as trivial as my bicycle and as profound as the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and of course I remembered my parents and my wife. But the experience set me thinking about the hundreds of individuals who are part of who I am today, too many to list. Some were around at hinge points in my life and helped a crucial change of direction, such as Arthur Hunter, Bill Morris, Dennis Woodford, Roy Hildon, John Maxwell, Mark E. Peterson, Neal A. Maxwell, Dave Cook and others. Maybe I’ll post the details about them individually sometime. There’s no doubt that for fellow passengers in this world, we can be, and most of us already are, that person — the person who tapped someone on the shoulder, maybe without knowing it — and made a difference. I’ll be eternally grateful for those who made a difference in my life.


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