The first thing I did when I arrived home from Logan for Christmas Break was visit the library.
I realized that for more than three weeks, my life would be void of homework, articles, and textbooks allowing me an opportunity that hasn’t presented itself since summer. It’s not like I can’t read in Logan, that’s a stupid thought. Having such a huge block of time with little to no commitment just makes it easier.
Another factor is that I’m what I like to call a “bullet” reader. I never-with the exception of books akin to Les Miserables-take more than a week to finish a book. Generally it’s more like two days. One of my little joys in the world is the ability to sit down for six or seven hours and get completely lost.
Last night, a little after 3 A.M., I finished The Undaunted. It’s what Tisha refers to as a “mo-mo” book, that being Mormon Fiction.
Yes, it was by Gerald Lund.
And okay, yes. I admit to reading The Work and the Glory at least three times before the age of 13.
And by that I mean all ten books, at least three times. Actually, I’m not sure I read much else that year.
That dark blot in my literary past has thankfully faded.
I should also mention that I’m a historical fiction geek. It may stem back to my father being a history teacher or maybe it bloomed when I started reading The Great Brain series in 3rd grade but I am absolutely fascinated\when a writer can research real events and add in fictional characters.
The Undaunted is a well written novel that follows the journey of the hole-in-the-rock pioneers of southern Utah and northern Arizona. Te book wasn’t really a challenge, but obviously Lund didn’t want it to be something to grovel over. The characters are well rounded. The research is nothing short of amazing.
Wait, you’re saying. Back up. The “hole-in-the-rock” pioneers? Uh, all we know is the ones who came across in 1847, and possibly the ones in handcarts that got stuck in massive blizzards in Wyoming.
I, of all people, should have known who these pioneers were. My great-great-great-great grandparents were the ones who, besides the Navajo, first inhabited southern Utah. Between my dad the resident historian and the endless family stories, I know the history of southern Utah like the back of my hand. I’m related to the greats of the time, including apostle George Q. Cannon.
There’s a published book behind me called The Cannon Family Historical Treasury. I’m not at all saying this in a braggadocios way. I just want to make point that I’ve heard every southern Utah/ceder city, pioneer, St. George, temple building story there is.
At least I thought so.
As I started to read this book, I was stumped. I had never even heard a reference to these pioneers. I asked my wise father, who told me the only the only people who know this story are Utah historians.
Oh yes, and people who have read The Undaunted.
A majority of the people in this story were living comfortably in Ceder City around 1879. Most had crossed the plains in wagons in 1848 or were the children of those who had. They had been called to the southern area of the state shortly after arriving in Utah. By the 1870’s, it was a very well established area.
At this time, the Indian wars are over but feelings are still close to brewing over the edge. I can’t remember the number exactly, between 100-150, people from the ceder area are called to create a settlement in the San Juan Valley, less than 20 miles from the Arizona border. To be brief, the area is not only roadless, but it looks like this:
Instead of six weeks, as they had planned, it took six months. They literally had to build holes in cliffs to get through, thus their name.
After all of this, after giving up fortunes and business and comfortable homes they settled in the San Juan Valley. Instead of it becoming larger like St. George or Ogden it never grew. In almost 150 years, the population probably hasn’t even doubled. Some moved on, but many lived on their lives in, quite frankly, a desert wasteland. The Lord wanted them there for a reason, but in a historian’s eyes their small settlement was completely uneventful.
I thought about this for a long time after I finished the book. I simply don’t know that I would have the faith to do something like this. Could I go into a impossible journey eight months pregnant? With my small children? I can have my daily scripture study, go to church for a few hours on Sunday, and work hard to emulate Christ, But…could I leave everything?
I realize that’s not my mission, at least not in this day and age. I have my own journey to follow. I’ve heard countless seminary teachers say that the time we’re living in is so challenging that the pioneers wouldn’t have traded us. I don’t buy it for a minute. I look at these people’s absolute faith, their willingness to do whatever the Lord asked of them, and I feel like I’ve shortchanged myself. No matter how hard I work, I fear I will never be that good.
Faith comes with sacrifice, this I understand.
How can I create that rock hard faith in my daily life?
I don’t know. I really don’t.