I know that many of the readers of my blog are LDS (Mormon) and are aware that one week ago today our prophet and president, Gordon B. Hinckley, passed away at the age of 97. I've spent many moments during this past week thinking of him and the wonderful legacy he left for all who knew him, loved him and respected him and his incredible life of service. This week I never saw any announcement on CNN about his death, but I learned about it from an email sent to me just after the news was announced publicly. At church today, it seemed that most of the ward members were already aware of his passing, so I guess the news travels even among those who have no internet access. But through the internet this week, I've read and seen many tributes to President Hinckley, many of which were very touching. And at church today, since it was the first Sunday of the month, it was our monthly Fast and Testimony meeting, where members of the congregation are free to go up to the podium and express what is in their hearts. I couldn't help thinking about how all over the world today in Testimony meetings in every country, there were members of the church expressing their love and gratitude for all that this wonderful leader has given to the church during his many years of service. This week I reread my journal writings of my nearest encounter with President Hinckley. In 2000 I was serving on the Houston temple music committee and was able to be in his presence during a weekend with 8 dedicatory sessions. It was an amazing experience! I have imprinted in my mind a clear picture of him waving a white handkerchief with face upturned while shouting "Hosanna" at the dedication. I felt his testimony of the importance of temple blessings. I saw his love for the youth of the church as he bent over the podium and wept when he told about his pain at seeing youth who were inviting evil influences into their lives with their choices. He spoke of his love for members of the Church all over the world, and he spent his energy showing that love as he traveled often the last years of his life, long past the time most people his age have slowed way down.
We were able to watch his funeral on the internet and celebrate his life with many other millions of Mormons throughout the world. I'm grateful to have shared in that feeling of community, the spirit, not of mourning, but of honoring the life of a great prophet and leader. Thank you, President Hinckley for your life of service! I would say "rest in peace," but, knowing President Hinckley, even in the next life he won't be resting very much.