We got a phone call at about 11:30 last night from a friend in Utah. She called to tell us that Gordon B. Hinckley, our church president and prophet, had passed away. He was 97. He had been our prophet for 13 years.
My husband answered the phone and then relayed the message to me as I was in bed, half asleep. Upon hearing the news, the first thought I had was, “No wonder so many of my prayers seem to have gone unanswered lately. Heaven has been too busy preparing to receive this wonderful man.”
I can’t begin to express the deep admiration and respect I have for President Hinckley. He has, in many ways, brought the church out of obscurity. More importantly, he has dotted the earth with temples and now, instead of having to make a six-hour trip to go to the temple, we have a temple only an hour away. I also love President Hinckley because he has always spoken with the utmost respect and admiration for women worldwide.
I know he will be sorely missed by our church membership worldwide, but, sad as the occasion is, I am happy for him that he is now reunited with his wife who passed away in 2004.
For the past few General Conferences (internet church, if you’ve been reading here for a while) Pres. Hinckley has made comments to the effect that he hopes to join with us again in the next conference but we would just have to see what the Lord had in mind. With all of the waiting we have been doing around here lately, and with his passing last night, I am now wondering if that is what his life has been like for the past few years. Has he just been waiting? Wondering when his time would come? If so, he certainly hasn’t been waiting idly, and it makes me realize I shouldn’t be either. He has been, to be a little irreverent, like the Energizer Bunny. He seemed to never slow down. Even if he was waiting and wondering when that next phase of his life would come, he seemed determined to accomplish as much as he could before it came. He certainly didn’t seemed bothered by the unrelenting stress that waiting can bring.
In 2000 President Hinckley did something that I believe no other LDS prophet has done: he had a book published by a non-LDS publishing house (specifically Random House) while he was the prophet. It is really a good little book: Standing For Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes. Of course I would encourage you to read it. It is not overly preachy nor exclusively LDS. It is, in so many ways, lost common sense. It is also a very quick read. The ten virtues of which he writes are: love, honesty, morality, civility, learning, mercy, industry, gratitude, optimism, faith.
If you are interested, you can read more about Gordon B. Hinckley here.
Though somber, the passing of a prophet is not a tumultuous time for us. There is an order to all things in the church, and we know who our next prophet will be. There will be no lobbying for votes or jockeying for position. It doesn’t work that way.
So I give my best to and send out prayers on behalf of Thomas S. Monson who has some mighty shoes to fill.