Pioneer reflections: Living the good life

FEATURE COLUMN – It’s a wonderful time of year to live in Utah’s Dixie. Despite our scorching hot summer days, there are many community events and activities to enjoy. It is also a time for family reunions and gatherings, and of course the kids enjoy their break from school. With this potential for increased family time, summer can be a great time to reflect upon and strengthen family relationships. I would like to share some ideas about how to do that on at least one day this summer.

Levi Savage
Levi Savage

There is an official holiday unique to the state of Utah that occurs every July 24 called Pioneer Day. On this day in 1847, Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley, declaring it to be their home. Groups of those pioneers were then sent across the western United States to establish settlements.

St. George is one of these original settlements, as 300 pioneer families were sent on a “cotton mission” in 1861. Can you imagine what they must have thought when they entered the hot, dry desert and then were told it was their new home? As I have reflected on those who sacrificed so much, I have discovered two themes that I think are important for us to consider.

  • Pioneers were able to envision a better life for themselves and their families than they currently enjoyed.
  • They worked tirelessly to achieve that vision.

I would like to relate just a couple of examples to illustrate those points.

Of Young, a man who envisioned a better life for himself and others, Hugh Nibley wrote, “He led a ragged and impoverished band, stripped of virtually all their earthly goods, into an unknown territory. His critics and biographers note that the man was unique among the leaders of modern history, for he alone, without any political and financial backing, established from scratch in the desert an ordered and industrious society…”

And one might ask, why he was able to do this? I believe it was because of his ability to envision that the future held a better life than he currently had.

Mormon pioneers
Mormon pioneers

One of the leaders of the well-known Willie Handcart Company, Levi Savage, is an example of one who worked tirelessly to accomplish a vision. You may have heard his name if you have seen the movie “17 Miracles.” He also lived his last 45 years in Toquerville and is buried there. Savage sensed the potential dangers of the handcart trek and warned the others who rebuked him. He said, “What I have said I know to be true; but, seeing you are to go forward, I will go with you, will help you all I can, will work with you, will rest with you, will suffer with you, and if necessary I will die with you.”

He was true to his word and worked diligently throughout the trek and throughout his life to accomplish this vision.

So, as we are enjoying our picnics and barbeques to celebrate Pioneer Day this year, let’s take a few moments and reflect upon not only what the pioneers have provided for us, but what we can learn from them. One of the best ways we can honor those who have gone before us is to model their example by envisioning a better life for ourselves and our families and then working tirelessly to achieve that vision.

That vision of creating a better life for ourselves and our family has little to do with material possessions or economic status. The good life is one where relationships are nurtured and enjoyed.

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Chad Olson
Chad Olson

Written by Chad Olson for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.

Olson is a licensed marriage and family therapist at the St. George Center for Couples and Families. The opinions stated are his own and not representative of St. George News.

St. George Health and Wellness

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, Inc. and St. George Health and Wellness magazine, 2013, all rights reserved.


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