Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Scout Is Reverent

I went to Boy Scout summer camp for the first time when I was 12 years old. We arrived on Saturday and set up camp. It rained that night. But the morning dawned sunny and beautiful. After breakfast I went with my troop to church at the outdoor chapel at Camp Loll.

Sacrament (communion) was served on trays that were hand carved from local logs. We sat on pews made of logs. Birds chirped as we sang hymns and listened to sermons. I don't remember a word of what was said, but I remember the grand view of the lake and woods from a chapel decorated  more gloriously by the Creator than the Sistine Chapel was decorated by the masters. I remember the sense of the sacred that I felt there.

Almost all scout meetings I have attended throughout my life have opened and concluded with prayer. I have bowed my head as prayers have been voiced by professional ministers and by rascally Cub Scouts. The common strain in all of these episodes has been scouts reverencing God.

Many times I have sat around a campfire as young scouts have expressed their feelings of devotion toward their Heavenly Father. The sacredness of these moments cannot be adequately conveyed using mere words.

The Boy Scout Law explains that reverence for a scout includes being faithful in his religious duties and respecting the religious beliefs of others.

Once as a teenager I was preparing to go home from an Explorer Scout event when one of the advisers invited us to share a cultural experience. He had been invited to bring a small group of scouts to the home of Roy Nakatani to share in the celebration of the Japanese New Year. The Nakatanis were most gracious as we sampled various Japanese foods, some of which were quite foreign to our uneducated palates.

As we visited with the Nakatanis, we came to understand that for them this was also a religious event. Although their beliefs differed from ours, we made every effort to properly honor and show respect for the things they held sacred.

Throughout my life I have taken my religion seriously. I have tried to live up to the principles espoused by my religion (although I have often failed). I have done my best to do my duty to God and to follow the observances prescribed by my religion.

Although outward religious performances are important, reverence is something that happens within. LDS Church President David O. McKay said that "reverence is profound respect mingled with love" for God.

I have felt this reverence as keenly in God's natural chapels as in any chapel made by the hands of man. But I also appreciate sacred spaces built by men to honor God. Their handiwork may not be as glorious as the Father's, but any space set apart for ennobling and sacred worship is divine.

A scout is reverent.

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