The Passing of a Giant

I have been traveling a little bit in the last couple weeks. I went to Salt Lake City for the funeral of Elder Neal A Maxwell . It has been broadcast since, but I thought I would share a few of my favorite moments.

The funeral for Elder Maxwell was very interesting. Candace and I arrived to Temple Square in Salt Lake City about three hours before the funeral, which was to start at noon. After waiting in line for a bit we were finally ushered into the Old Tabernacle building. Security was very very tight. There was nothing allowed in besides small purses (which were searched) and scriptures. No other books were allowed. Even the scriptures were fanned thru. The security guard mentioned to me that they found a cut out Bible a little bit ago and inside was a hand grenade. They were to take no more chances.

We were brought up to the second level of the tabernacle. The whole bottom section was reserved for family, close friends, General Authorities and invited guests. Candace and I found a seat and waited for the services to begin.

A whole row of cars pulled up alongside the building. The Prophet and his counselors were among the first to enter the building. The whole congregation stood and remained silent. That is an experience that I will never grow tired of having. When the Prophet enters a room and instantly people stand in respect, the room is always filled with a very special feeling. Even in the large conference center the feeling is present and I believe it to be a reminding witness from the Holy Ghost that you stand near he who is very much “noble and great.”

Returning the the funeral service. President Hinckley and the other members of the Twelve and Presidency of the Seventy stood at the doorway as the family and friends followed the casket of Elder Maxwell. When all were finally seated, the service began.

The Mormon Tabernacle choir sang a few numbers throughout the program. Presidents Packer, Monson, Faust and Hinckley all spoke. Also, a son of Elder Maxwell spoke. I especially enjoyed a story from President Packer. He recounted the happenings before the last meeting of the Twelve before the passing of Elder Maxwell. he said that Elder Maxwell slowly made his way into the room. When Chancing upon 98 year old David B Haight, Elder Maxwell raised his cane into the air and challenged, “On Guard”. Elder Haight VERY slowly raised his cane as well and “a shot sword duel ensued. Luckily both sides withdrew before bloodshed occurred.”

There were many parts that touched my heart and awakened me to a sense of my better self. However, I especially enjoyed the comments of President Hinckley. Specifically speaking to Sister Maxwell in the audience, he told her , “as one having experience”, just exactly how she will miss her husband. And he relayed to her the times that it would be most hard. To me it was a window into our Prophet to see his hurting heart. It also showed me how President Hinckley uses even his hardest struggles in a positive way to teach and uplift others. We would all do a little better in life if we complained less, and encouraged more.

In general, the theme of the funeral focused on just how surely the work continues on the other side. They spoke of Elder Maxwell going right to work on the other side of the veil. It reminded me that you can not escape work in this life. People tend to find the easy way here on Earth because they figure that it will someday all be over and they just have to make it until then. The truth however is that we should set patterns of growth now because when we die we will pick up right where we left off and we will continue to have chance to grow and chances to help others. I smiled while listening because I picture those who welcomed Elder Maxwell into the next stage of growth. No doubt they were excited to use a man of such great knowledge, skills and love. If they wanted an personally delivered update on the illnesses and hardships of earth then there was no man on this earth better to bring it to them then Elder Neal A Maxwell. He had such a heart for compassion and a mind for understanding.

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