Here is my story:
Most of us probably remember where we were on September 11, 2001. I certainly do. I was in Denver with my mother, visiting my brother and his family. We had spent the previous evening in a hotel on the Colorado/Utah border, and as we made it into Denver and pulled into the driveway of their home, my sister-in-law came out of the house, and told us that someone had crashed into one of the twin towers. We came into the house, and watched the coverage of the events that followed.
That day and the few days that followed it were some of the most anxious hours of my life. I have a tendency to over-react to situations, and I also have a tendency to assume the worst much more often than is really wise or necessary (this will not come as a surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog for more than about six months). In my defense, I will say that I come by those tendencies honestly-- my father, several of my aunts and uncles, and many of my cousins are exactly the same way. Sometimes I think of it as the "Corry Curse". But, it's okay, I'm getting better about my outlook, and there are many many benefits that come with being a Corry. So, I'll not complain. Anyway, back to the story at hand. . .
For the sake of brevity, I won't go into too much detail as to the state I was in as I watched the coverage of the attack. I was afraid. I was more afraid than I had ever been in my adult life. I had no idea what the future would bring, and my imagination ran wild, filling my mind with all kinds of horrible possibilities for our country and our world. But mainly, I was just absolutely, 100%, completely afraid.
As I do in any crisis, I prayed. In fact, I prayed like I'd never prayed before. And I waited. I waited for October Conference.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, every fall and every spring, we hold what is called General Conference. At that time, all the "higher-up"(for lack of a better word) leaders of the church gather in Salt Lake City, and for two days, they give talks in five different meetings. These meetings take place in a huge 20,000-seat auditorium, which was built specifically for this purpose. The meeting are also broadcast via satellite to LDS church houses throughout all the world, as well as on several television channels, and a few radio stations. The meetings are also streamed over the internet, and are later published in magazine form.
I love General Conference. I love the feelings I get when I listen to and watch the speakers, and I love the reminders of the things that I should be doing. I love the way I'm more motivated to live a better life when I've spent the better part of two days listening to that counsel. But most of all, I love General Conference because that is when I most often hear and see the Prophet speak. There is something that I feel inside, something that I can't completely explain, something that is absolutely precious to me. I have felt it every single time I have heard the Prophet speak.
And so, from September 11, 2001 to October 6, 2001, I looked forward to General Conference like I had never looked forward to it before.
And I wasn't disappointed.
As President Hinckley started his address, he mentioned the attack of September 11. He spoke of meetings he had attended with other religious leaders throughout our nation and world, to discuss the attack and its consequences. He spoke of some of the affects of the attack, how they might change things for us as a people, us as a church, and us as a nation. He gave us counsel. He asked us to avoid persecution of the innocent. He asked us to pray for those in battle. He asked us to get out of debt, to set aside some food in case of a time of need, to be prudent, and to go forward with faith.
He told us that treachery and terrorism began with Satan, and he told us that they would continue until Jesus Christ returns to rule and reign on the earth. He told us that we needed to do our duty, and that peace might be denied for a season. He told us that we might end up being inconvenienced, and that many of us might even suffer in one way or another, but that God would watch over our nation as well as all of the world who would look to Him. He told us that our safety was in our repentance, and that our strength came from our obedience to the commandments of God.
As he spoke, I started to feel better. What he was telling me was not new. I had heard all this before, and I had been trying to follow this very counsel for years. The sheer familiarity of it comforted me and gave me hope. I knew that I could do what he was asking me to do, and inside, I knew that if I did it, I would be okay. Perhaps I would be made to suffer. Perhaps horrible things would still happen. But, when everything all shook out, I knew that we would all be okay, and that things would work out. Most of all, I knew that the Lord had not forgotten us, and that as long as we didn't forget him, that He would stand by us and support us.
The talk that President Hinckley gave that day answered nearly a month's worth of fervent, heartfelt, at times even desperate prayers for me. It's been over seven years since that day, and I still remember the feelings I had then as if they had happened just a week ago. I will never forget that experience, and I hope to carry the things I learned that day throughout the rest of my life.
As President Hinckley concluded this particular talk, he said about four sentences that have been in my memory ever since. I think over them when the nightly newscast is particularly unsettling to me. I think over them when I need a little assurance. And sometimes I think over them when I'm feeling absolutely fine, just because they make me feel even better. Here are those words:
"Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us. "(Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, November 2001 p. 74)
Peace in our hearts, and peace in our homes.
Every one of us!
Every one of us!