After Chicago we trekked to Nauvoo. It was Jen's first experience there, and my fourth, but first as an adult.
I love the pastoral spirit that pervades Nauvoo. When you're there, you get swept up in the peace and tranquility of the place. You can't help but see yourself among those who lived there in the 1840's, living like they would have lived. Except this time, I also felt an undercurrent of sadness. I couldn't put my finger on what was causing it. I asked Jen about it and she was feeling the same. We finally realized that what we were feeling was melancholy in the fact that the pioneers are missing from this place. I think we must have experienced just a little of the sadness they would have felt when it came time to leave the beautiful, peaceful city they had worked so hard to build. This especially hit home for me when I was standing in Lucy Mack Smith's home, thinking about the internal struggle she must have felt at being torn between wanting to follow the Saints west and wanting to stay loyal to her family and to remain in the place she loved. She never did go west, and it is a lonely thing to think of being left behind in such a beautiful place without a majority of the friends and others who made it what it was.
This was the Seventies Hall. This place had captured my imagination on previous trips and did again this time. The hall was destroyed and has since been rebuilt on the old foundation. Since it sits just a few blocks from the Mississippi, it is fascinating to imagine all the instruction that took place there before the early missionaries left for their worldwide missions via the river, mere feet away. But there is another neat piece of history to the hall--the book collection that was started on the second story at the prophet's request. In three months time, the collection grew to nearly 700 books. It must have been a sacrifice for Nauvoo citizens, as I'm sure books were a precious commodity at the time. This is one of those small but not insignificant trademark Mormon stories that speaks to me, since it stresses the importance to early Mormons of education, sacrifice, and community.
On the second story of the Seventies Hall, they have records of any members of any of the Quorums of Seventies who were ever in Nauvoo. I found this page while I was there, and I have been trying to read in his diary a little bit tonight.
This is the point where the exodus from Nauvoo began in 1846. The plaque below is one of those distinctly Mormon things that captures my imagination about the early Church. The Rockies and the Salt Lake Valley were likely not as much of a mystery to Joseph and Brigham as most people like to make them out to be, but in my mind it doesn't make these prophecies any less powerful, considering the full extent of hardship Joseph and Brigham must have known the Saints would face before establishing their home there. Joseph's vision of the Saints' role in the West is especially stirring and articulate--particularly as expressed in the final quote.