A vision through the veil in Maui

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On the grounds of the Pulehu Chapel in Maui
(Photo in public domain from Wikimedia Commons)

We had a lovely time last night with our monthly reading group (via Zoom, in our case from St. George), discussing R. Lanier Britsch, Moramona: Hawaii’s Mormons, 2nd edition, updated, revised and enlarged (Laie, HI: The Jonathan Napela Center for Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Studies, Brigham Young University-Hawai’i, 2018), with its author, who is part of our small group. Here is a wonderful story, already familiar to some of you perhaps (as it was to me), which he tells on pages 266-267:

In 1920 and 1921, David O. McKay, who had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1906, toured the world on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. with Hugh J. Cannon. His touring experience would later be of use to Elder McKay during his own tenure as President of the Church from 1951 until his death in 1970.

At one point Elder McKay and his group were on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The group included not only Hugh Cannon (son of the late George Q. Cannon, who had served as a counselor to four Presidents of the Church), Hawaiian Mission President E. Wesley Smith (son of President of the Church Joseph F. Smith , who had just died on November 19, 1918), Samuel H. Hurst and a former Hawaiian named David Kailimai. George Q. Cannon was one of the first Latter-day Saint missionaries to Hawaii and, along with Jonathan Napela, translated the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian. Joseph F. Smith was also a young missionary in the early years of the mission in Hawaii. George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith had learned Hawaiian fluently and had grown exceptionally close to the Hawaiian people throughout their lives.

Pulehu plaque
A commemorative plaque on the grounds of the Pulehu Chapel (photo in the public domain of Wikimedia Commons)

While in Maui, Elder McKay’s group visited Pulehu, in the Kula district on the lower slope of the great Haleakala volcano, where, in 1851, George Q. Cannon baptized his very first converts and organized the first Hawaiian branch. from the church. It was sacred ground for Elder McKay and the others – and, as one Latter-day Saint family told me on a Sunday afternoon in the grounds of Pulehu Chapel, it remains sacred to many members of the Church. the Church there still today. (Some, I am told, hope that one day a small temple will be built in Maui, and if so, it will be built in Pulehu. For various reasons, I do not expect this. But that would be great.)

E. Wesley Smith recalled an event in Pulehu as follows:

While there Elder McKay was impressed by the desire to offer a prayer to the Lord in a spirit of thanksgiving for the privilege they had to be there and for the many people. . . who had embraced the gospel. We bowed in prayer, Brother McKay being mouth. It was a moment to never forget, for indeed the place is sacred. Elder McKay said, “I am sure President Cannon and President Joseph F. Smith are near, for the veil was very thin. Elder [Hugh J.] Cannon was deeply impressed and, with tears in his eyes, he said in a choked voice: “There was no veil.”

The group recounted their experience to a group of Latter-day Saints in the Wailuku Chapel later on the night of February 8, 1921. One of those present at this meeting, J. Pia Cockett, recorded what he said. heard in a notebook:

While he [Elder McKay] prayed, the Hawaiian elder [David Kailimai] had the privilege of seeing in a vision two hands joined in the form of a greeting. He thought Cannon and Hurst were shaking hands. He opened his eyes and saw that they were apart. He closed his eyes again and after the prayer he related what he had seen.

It was at this point that Elder McKay made the statement quoted above, about Presidents George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith being close and the veil being very thin.

For many years, J. Pia Cockett felt that the folded hands Elder Kailimai saw in a vision were those of George Q. Cannon and his son Hugh. In 1936, however, when President McKay – who at that time was Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church – returned to Hawai’i for a return visit, Elder Cockett recalled the story. in the presence of President McKay and President McKay corrected him, saying, “These hands were the hands of the two fathers, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, in the presence of the two sons, Hugh J. Cannon and E. Wesley Smith.

***

Driving with friends early Sunday afternoon to visit other friends at their new home in Washington, a suburb of St. George, my attention was caught by a large number of cars and trucks – d ‘From what I could see, there may have been about two hundred of them, if not more, adorned with American flags and “Trump 2020” banners and traveling along the parallel frontage road and east of I-15. It was, of course, a “Trump train”.

I admit I am more than a little disappointed to see such a thing on the Sabbath here in St. George. And that has nothing to do with my particular political views; I would have been equally disheartened to see a Biden / Harris “train” if such things existed, or – remarkable even to consider the hypothetical possibility – a Jorgensen / Cohen train.

Even back when I had political views, which stretched until just a few months ago, I made a very serious and largely successful effort not to publish policy here on Sundays. This is because, although I have / had strong political views, I consider other things to be much more important and fundamental than politics. Civic behavior, charity, and respect are some of those things. Cultural issues are one of those things. The same is true of my religious faith. And a fundamental part of that faith is that the Sabbath is not to be like any other day, and that there are loyalties that are above partisan politics. I always come back to a statement by William Law (1686-1761) that Neal A. Maxwell loved very much: “If you didn’t choose the kingdom of God first, what you chose ultimately won’t make any difference. instead of.”

Posted from St. George, Utah


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