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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Joseph the Prophet


I haven't been posting much as I am singing in the musical, JOSEPH THE PROPHET. My husband is singing in it, and two of my daughters are playing cello and violin in the orchestra.We've spent lots of time getting the mechanics of the thing set. The numbers roil around in my head until they pour out at odd moments. I watch the conductor like a stooping hawk. I count out the long rests and pay attention to my pitch and breath support. I try to catch my cues from my mates, the orchestra, and from the conductor's face and gestures. The music swells and my voice billows out in a fortississimo swell. It's difficult not getting too caught up in the craft of it unless I immerse myself in the meanings of the words.

The music is poignant enough. But the story.... This man went to his death for the things he believed. He lost children to the brutality of mobs. He was wrongly imprisoned, tarred and feathered, beaten and starved.

If he hadn't known that what he'd seen and experienced was real and gripping, it would have been such a relief to simply lay down the mantle of responsibility and walk away, taking his beloved wife and children with him. He could have gone back to being a simple farmer in the backwoods of New York, plowing his land, dragging away the stumps, planting and harvesting.

But he didn't. And his legacy stands today, sealed with his blood and the blood of those who believed in him and stood by him through challenges of all kinds.

I count my own ancestors among those who knew him personally. They knew he was a prophet to such an extent that they sailed across the ocean, leaving a successful vineyard. They made homes in Nauvoo, Illinois and then traveled the plains in a covered wagon. One of my several greats grandfathers was a scout for him, and one of the first 100 white men to enter the Salt Lake Valley. Another was a printer, who paid with his life for his printing press.

So now the legacy passes to me. How will I let what I have learned affect me? How will I carry my forebears' lives and actions forward? I can thank them for what they did, with my heart and my actions. I can be the person I'm meant to be, purposefully, deliberately. I can be more. I can try every day to make them, and Joseph, proud.

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