Friday, October 31, 2008

The Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman

Have you ever noticed that there are some places in the world that inspire a sense of reverence? At times it is because of the tremendous beauty that exists. There are other moments when sites of historical significance strike a spiritual chord deep within.

(You'll have to click on the picture above to read this description of Adam-ondi-Ahman)

The Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman is such a place.
I've been given the opportunity to visit this location twice in my life. Both occasions were tremendous spiritual boosts. It is comparable to an inspiring temple session. The valley itself is gorgeous. However, the feeling of peaceful calm that can be felt in this location is what has touched me most.

Our first visit to this sacred valley took place on June 3, 1997. Our family had traveled to this site with two other families, close friends. We had journeyed to other historical Church sites during this trip, but it was the Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman that would imprint itself strongest within my heart.

It was a tender day. It was the birthday of a beloved daughter of our friends. This young lady would have been fifteen that day. Taken from this mortal realm in a car accident five months earlier, her memory was etched in our hearts.

We had been praying that day for this girl's mother, who was with us on this sacred journey. Uncertain of how best to help her through this emotional time, I know it wasn't a coincidence that we visited Adam-ondi-Ahman on the anniversary of her daughter's birthday.

As we drove into the parking lot, the feeling of peaceful calm that we had prayed for descended in a huge fashion. Even our young children whispered, exhibiting a sense of reverence for this sacred site. We quietly walked around, each lost in our separate thoughts as we experienced a sense of healing.

For a short time, three of us wandered together, three mothers united in a prayerful cause. Two of us had brought along a small bouquet of flowers we had initially intended on placing on the grave of our 4th-great-grandmother in Nauvoo. However, when we had learned that her grave had been lost when angry mobs destroyed much of the original cemetery, we had kept the bouquet, uncertain of what to do with it. That day it became apparent why we had kept those flowers.

As the three of us walked down into a tight grove of trees, we left the bouquet of flowers there in memory of a beloved daughter. A calming spirit of love eased tremendous heartache that afternoon. It was with great reluctance that we returned to where our families waited in the tiny parking lot above.

When we reached the parking lot, we observed a young couple standing there. Both were holding cans of beer; cigarettes dangled from their mouths. The young man commented: "I don't see anything special about this place!" The three of us looked at each other in stunned silence. We had just experienced a sacred moment we couldn't adequately put into words. We knew this site was of tremendous significance. How could this young couple not feel what was there?

Then it occurred to me that there are indeed times when our attitudes and demeanor will determine what kind of experience we will encounter, whether it's a physical or spiritual perception. If we journey to sacred sites with a mindset that is negative, we will miss so much of what is there. (Yes, this is an important analogy of life in general.)

Ten years passed by. Then last summer, I was given another chance to see Adam-ondi-Ahman. I rejoiced at this opportunity. As we planned this second trip to Nauvoo, I persisted in wanting to revisit this sacred valley. It was an uphill battle to arrive at this destination. I have found in life that things of worth are usually this way. We were on a tight schedule. I was the only one who was filled with a desire to stop for a little while as we passed through Missouri. Fortunately, the others were gracious enough to permit this short visit.

As I exited the car, I prayed fervently for the peace of heart I was seeking. Recent events in our family had left me feeling spiritually exhausted. I desired the peaceful healing I had experienced ten years before.

At first, it didn't seem like this would happen. Then I wandered off by myself, retracing steps I had taken in 1997. A quiet inner nudge guided me toward something I hadn't planned on seeing. Kneeling in that sacred spot, I quietly prayed for guidance. While the answers I had sought didn't surface, I will never forget what I felt that day. The hopeful peace that eased my torn heart that afternoon is a treasured moment in my life. I left with the knowledge that despite what we were enduring, all would be well.

We need moments like this in our lives. Currently, the world is in a state of constant turmoil. How blessed we are to have the opportunity to journey to temple settings where the cares of the world can be left behind, where spiritual healing can give us the courage to continue on, facing the challenging trials of our day. Take advantage of this great blessing. Push past the negative influences that exist to attain the peace of heart and mind that will help us survive the days ahead.

I'm closing this post with lyrics that were written about Adam-ondi-Ahman. Composed by William W. Phelps, this hymn (#49) sums up what I'm trying to say:


This earth was once a garden place, with all her glories common,

And men did live a holy race, and worship Jesus face to face,
In Adam-ondi-Ahman.

We read that Enoch walked with God, above the pow'r of mammon,
While Zion spread herself abroad, and Saints and angels sang aloud,

In Adam-ondi-Ahman.

Her land was good and greatly blest, beyond all Israel's Canaan,
Her fame was known from east to west, her peace was great, and pure the rest
Of Adam-ondi-Ahman.

Hosanna to such days to come, The Savior's second coming,
When all the earth in glorious bloom, affords the Saints a holy home,

Like Adam-ondi-Ahman.

Return to the Neighborhood


Tristi Pinkston said...

This was absolutely lovely. Thank you.

I had the chance to visit this holy site seventeen years ago, as a teenager. The humidity was so bad, I honestly thought I was going to lose my mind. But in that spot, I felt incredible peace. I would love to go back there someday.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Tristi, thank you. ;) And I'm so glad you had a chance to experience this sacred location. Just about everyone I've talked to who has been there has said the same thing.

Anne Bradshaw said...

This is a great account. Thanks for sharing, Cheri. I've always wondered what it was like there.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Hi Anne. I'm glad you enjoyed this post, but it doesn't do this area justice. =)It is truly one of the most sacred spots on earth.