With Real Intent
Devotional Speech - May 30, 1978
given by Ruth H. Barrus
Introduction - given by LaMar Barrus Jr.
I have been asked to give a biography of Ruth Barrus, in introduction of her speech today.
Suffice it to say that Ruth Barrus has spent 43 years of her life teaching at Ricks College prior to her retirement last year.
Two statements could sum up the achievements of these 43 years. The first is a direct quote from Alexander Schreiner, Tabernacle Organist. "Ruth Barrus has probably trained more good organists than any other organist in the history of the church."
The second is a quote made by President Henry B. Eyring, former Ricks College President. "Her creation of teaching materials in Humanities not only reached thousands of students but set a standard of excellence which raised academic aspirations of students and faculty throughout the College. Her influence for academic excellence, both through her teaching and her curriculum development, was one of the strongest among a faculty of two hundred."
I would like to dwell for a moment on another aspect of Ruth Barrus here this morning. We sometimes speak of a group of people in the world known as "the beautiful people". In so doing we refer to those individuals who are exceedingly wealthy, live lives filled with excitement and pleasure, and who emphasize the physical beauties of body and life.
There is, however, another type of "beautiful people" who far surpass in beauty those just mentioned. Such people seem to radiate a beauty that comes not from wealth or fame, but from living a life filled with purity, love and sacrifice; a life spent in the service of others and of God. This is a beauty of a spiritual nature which, as Lord Byron states in his poem, "Heaven to gaudy day denies."
Such spiritual beauty comes only to those who have left this world and its emphasis upon the temporal for the eternal truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is a beauty that was recognized by others in Ruth Barrus as they named her Idaho's Mother of the Year, 1978. This is the beauty which her children see in her and in her equally beautiful husband as they together work "as one flesh" to create an eternal family unit.
Lord Byron seems to have caught a glimpse of such eternal beauty which he expresses in his poem, and which seems to me, as a son, fitting introduction to my Mother.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark or bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er the face;
Were thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart who's love is innocent.
"With Real Intent"
by Ruth Hammond Barrus
Mother of the Year for Idaho 1978
A talk given at Ricks College Devotional
May 30, 1978
Thank you, LaMar, for that kind and beautiful introduction; it leaves me speechless - and this is a bad time to do that. But do you know, LaMar, really both of my LaMars [my son and my husband] how much I appreciate you and love you, and the years increase that love. I will try and get control of myself here.
I am grateful to be with you this day. Your presence and spirit strengthen my hope in America.
I am grateful for our birthright, America - - a choice land held in reserve for a people distinguished by vision, courage and faith.
I am grateful for those of my people, possessing these qualities, who, in our nation's history, crossed the ocean to America and, generations later, crossed the plains by foot and covered wagon into Utah, and then into Idaho.
I am grateful for my mother, who, in my childhood, told me the stories of my people, recounting the deeds of heroes - - deeds filled with vision, courage and faith.
I am grateful for my husband, who, in the throws of the great depression of 1934 had the courage to ask me to marry him. We had little, but in our love and faith, we knew we could make it, and we did!
As we review our lives together with our children, the real meaning of life comes clearly into focus.
When our children were young, I went with them many summer evenings deep into our pasture to get the cows for milking. As we traveled on the graveled road and followed the grassy canal banks, we skipped rocks or sang together. We cooled our feet in the clear waters of the Teton River, and lay on the grass in the shade of the willows, looking up at the arching Tetons - - and then, in our vision together, we pushed back the blue sky and reached for the stars! Our dreams were many and exciting. They took the forms of music, drama, education, missions. In the clarity of our vision we knew all things were attainable - - and they were! Oh, it required getting up at 5:00 a.m. for concentrated practice and study; it meant rushing to get chores done for evening activities and concerts; it meant the purchase of instruments and travel for study, even to Europe. We were not always sure how this could be done, but we had faith, and it was done!
As our dreams rolled into fulfillment, my husband and I traveled now; to Vienna, to hear our son Clyn play solo viola with the Vienna Symphony; to a Western city to see and hear LaMar Jr. conduct his own composition - - a choral symphony; to Utah to hear our beautiful daughter LaRue perform a piano recital. We touched the stars with them in these moments of spiritual ecstasy, and were humbled by it.
But the great experience was yet to come. And it did on June 5, 1976, when the billions of gallons of water held in check by the Teton Dam burst through its walls, and a 16-foot tidal wave, filled with filth and debris, churned down upon our Sugar City, Idaho, and surrounding communities. Our farm was devastated, and the labors of three generations of Barruses were swept away. Our home was crushed and defiled, its contents gone.
Immediately, our children and grandchildren in Minnesota, Ohio and Idaho joined in the clean-up and rebuilding. But they brought with them more than their labors; they returned to us that which we had struggled so hard to give them in their youth - - they returned vision, courage, and faith, and we joined hands in the formidable task of rebuilding.
These are the great values that marked the beginning of America, and we must exemplify and preserve them if America is to achieve her destiny.
What I have just said briefly capsules the importance of these great powers of vision, faith and courage in our family's life. This morning I pray that I may say something that will motivate and energize the power of courage and faith in your lives. As I talk about vision, I have to include faith, because they are eternal companions; they are inseparable, because through faith we become the sons and daughters of God. And through faith we open the doors and windows to vision. Oh! Vision is important in our lives! In Proverbs the Lord tells us, "where there is no vision, the people perish." We must have vision!
Several years ago I read a dialogue between a minister of a Protestant faith and a leader of our L.D.S. church. It had to do with the youth. The minister came to the L.D.S. leader for counsel and advice. He said, "Where are we going wrong? We love our young people, we are trying to teach them about the Lord and the great mission of the Savior. We are trying to teach them to be good, and we exert all our energies and power to that end. But, when they get about the age when they start thinking independently about themselves and for themselves, we lose them. What is wrong?"
The L.D.S. leader thought about it and talked about all that our church tries to do with the youth. The minister said, "We know you have some marvelous youth programs and we see the strength of the youth in the mission fields and in their communities all over. What do you do that is different than what we do?" As the L.D.S. leader conversed with the minister, he told him of the great extra dimension that is added to the lives of our people. "We try", said the L.D.S. leader, "to teach them about the Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ and His great mission, and the example He set while He as here on earth. But along with goodness we teach them vision. We teach them from the time they are little children, where they come from. We teach them why they are here, and we teach them where they are going. We open the heavens to the great vision of eternal life." When they reach this age of great temptation - - a great age when young people say 'I want to do what I want to do, because that is what I want to do' - - you know the age. . . Then what the parents consider and what the church leaders consider, if it interferes with what they want to do, goodness is sort of cast out - - goodness isn't enough. When goodness interferes with what one wants to do it is very easy to dismiss it. But it is very difficult to dismiss goodness and vision. There is the strength of the gospel, VISION, there is the distinct uniqueness of the gospel - - vision!
"The world often accuses people in our church of being puppets on a string. They remark, 'President Kimball says you do this and you do that, and he just pulls a string.' They think we are weak in the ability to think for ourselves. It is because we are strong in our ability to think for ourselves that we do what he asks: because we have the vision of knowing why He asks it, and of our own agency we do it." That is the strength of our lives, the strength of our church, the strength of our future.
Where does this vision come from? The Lord over and over in the scripture tells us, "My sheep shall know my voice," and isn't the voice of the Lord beautiful, isn't it sweet, isn't it challenging, isn't it invigorating and glorious! "My sheep know my voice." And where do you hear His voice? We all know. Vision is light. In the 50th section of the Doctrine and Covenants in the 24th verse, there is a scripture that I love and say many times a week to myself - - it talks about light, and says, "That which is of God is light, and he that receiveth light and continueth in me, receiveth more light and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." So, if we have vision, we must live in light, and if we are to live in light we must keep close to the word of the Lord. We all know where the word of the Lord is contained - - in the great scriptures, and how beautiful they are!
Andrea Thornock, who led our hymn today so beautifully, called me and asked, "What would you like to have for an opening song?" She named a few and I thought, Oh, let's sing of the first vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith - - "How Lovely was the Morning." I appreciate that, Andrea, and I thrilled with it, because I do not know anyone who has received more vision in this world, except the Savior, than the Prophet Joseph Smith.
In the temple last week, Sister Groberg, our Idaho Falls Temple Matron, in one of our temple meetings, read a statement to us: "We have Prophets of old, but in the Prophet Joseph Smith, we have all the Prophets in one." Isn't that marvelous? Isn't that a great statement? We went through 1000 years during the dark ages, in which the light of Heaven - - vision - - was closed to the world, but a young boy of 14 years with great faith knelt in prayer and the heavens and the earth were opened, and all things - - all light was given. I am sure that the great vision of the eternities, the great truths of the gospel were revealed to him with such quantity that he felt at times he would burst with them. And yet he had the privilege of giving us only a little of that great vision he received. If we are to have more, we must walk by faith and works.
You know, I think of faith as great steps we are to climb, and if we climb those steps, we reach the archway of vision; but as we press through that archway, what do we see? More steps to climb, and another great archway of vision. And we can travel through archway after archway of vision by climbing the steps of faith - - an eternal quest, an eternal journey. But if we make this climb, we have to take another companion along, courage!
When I think of the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the great courage he had to exemplify in his life to teach the world, I am humbled and thrilled. I received this statement, too, in the temple last week. It is taken from the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 296: "It is my meditation all the day, and more than meat and drink to know how I shall make the saints of God comprehend the visions that roar like an overwhelming surge before my mind. Let these truths sink down in our hearts that we may even here begin to enjoy that which may be in full hereafter . . . Oh that I had the language of the archangel to express my feelings just once to my friends: but I never expect to in this life." He had vision so full that it overwhelmed him - "can I just give them to you," he pleads, "Oh, how I would like to give them to you, in their fullness." But he does not expect to in this world.
I challenge you this day to read the 93rd Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, because there you will see the great vision of life eternal that is in store for us: the things that are bursting within the Prophet Joseph Smith. The 93rd Section talks about the Savior, how He condescended to leave His glorious existence and come to earth to receive the persecution and tribulation that we know so well - - to learn precept upon precept until He received the fullness of everything. And how I thrill when I read, later on in the Section, the power that is given us if we will learn precept upon precept. We can have a fullness as in the record of John. Isn't that a marvelous promise; isn't that exciting! What a great future can be ours!
Well, the courage to practice what we know is the real test, isn't it I am going to add one more dimension to this. Not only must we have the courage to practice what we know, but we must practice it with all our hearts. There is the real test! The Lord says "with real intent." I would like to say "with all my heart."
Moroni talks about "with real intent" in the Book of Mormon (Moroni 7:6-10). He says: "If ye offer the gift or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent, it profiteth him nothing. . . . , for if a man giveth a gift and do it grudgingly it profiteth him nothing. .. . , Where it is counted unto him as if he had retained the gift, wherefore he is counted evil before God."
Have you ever thought of how many things you have done in your life grudgingly? My conscious shakes when I think about it. What we do has no meaning to us, has no eternal significance except to bring us down, unless we do it with all our hearts!
I had an experience once that really taught me to know the real importance of doing things "with all our hearts." When I was 55, which was some years ago, (I was quite young then, anyway 55) my husband encouraged me to go back to school and get my Masters Degree. My children were all reared and my mother, who had been living with us and who had been ill for a long time, had passed away, so he said, "now you go and get your Masters." I had worked hard and had done a lot of summer classes toward it. It was a hard decision to make, but I decided to go. There was a lot of work to do, I had to do it in one semester. I had three areas in which I had to work. In organ - I had to present a recital and write a thesis. There was a thesis in creative writing and a thesis in English Literature, and much research to prepare for all this, as well as taking classes for residence credit. This was a big load, and when I went to register I found out that in order to get my Masters Degree, two more classes had to be crowded into the schedule. You would never guess what they were. One was called linguistics and the other was called Old English. I had in my undergraduate years taken three years of German - two years to learn the language, and then my third year I started to read the literature. Now, in one semester I had to learn the language and read the literature of Old English. When I say Old English, I really mean old English! It was the kind used in 500 A.D., and it was as foreign a language as you will ever learn. It had characters that we do not even have to-day in our language. And you can imagine, I took this class very grudgingly. I just couldn't accommodate it in my mind. I started with a class of 25 who were candidates for their Masters Degree, and at the end of two weeks there were seven left. Half of them said, "we will take it in the summer when we can put more time to it." The other half just gathered up their books and their families and went home.
But I was determined that I was going to learn Old English, and I made note cards: I put words and sentences on tape. I went to sleep with it playing in my ears. I studied my cards as I walked from class to class. I would wake up at 4 a.m. and practice Old English. I have never worked so hard in my life and the more I practiced the more distressed I became. I was mad at the teacher - - a great Oxford scholar, who just loved to sit in class and read the Literature of Old English, never helping us with grammar - "oh please," I silently begged him, "help me." I was mad at the text: it was loosely written, not the kind of text that helps you. I wore that book out. Originally it was brand new, and at the end of the semester it was completely worn out. It looked like it had been around for a 100 years by the time I got through with it, just trying to find out what I was supposed to know. I was distressed in the class, but I was determined! You had to pass the class with a "B" or you had to take it again. I made it with a "B", and I have never had a "B" look so good as that one did.
What did I really learn from all this hard, tiresome labor - - not Old English! Six weeks after I took the course I couldn't say 10 words in Old English.
I know, as you look at me you are saying, "something is wrong with her. After all that labor something should stick." The problem is right here, "except ye do it with real intent." I did it all grudgingly, and it counted as nothing! Have you ever taken classes like this - don't! When I think of that wasted time and labor, I groan at the waste.
You know, I have a dark side of my memory and I have a bright side, and whenever I do anything grudgingly, not "with real intent," it sort of slips into the ooze and quagmire of this dark side of my memory and sinks to the bottom of the mud. Once in awhile a thick blob comes up, but it just explodes meaninglessly; it is there, buried forever. What a terrible waste!
I think of a statement of Henry James, a great author, that wrote like a psychologist, and he could enter into the very most sensitive area of your mind and feelings. America claims him, but he took English citizenship, so England claims him, too, as a great author. He said this once, "something is happening to you every moment of your life, is it wasted on you?"
When I look back upon my life at the things that I did with "real intent, with all my heart," how they stay in my memory in an area filled with light. So many things are now crowded into that area I feel almost to explode with them, with the vision of it all. They are things that are begging to be said - - to be revealed in some form or other.
I am sure I must look rather old to you, but I have a feeling, right now, a feeling that instead of reaching the end of my life - - I am only at the beginning of my life! It is urgent with me to take the things that are stored in me, the experiences that have come to me, and that which I have learned that is so alive in me - - to put them all into some kind of form that will have eternal significance.
Don't let things slip into the dark side of your memory to be lost forever. Don't let it! There is one way to avoid it. Don't ever open a book until you say, "I can't wait to know what is in this book." Say it, practice it! Although you may not feel like it, practice it anyway because we become what we practice. Say it out loud, "I can't wait to know what is in this book." Don't ever enter a classroom door until you say out loud, "I can't wait to learn what I am going to learn in this class to-day." I promise you, if you will practice this, you will learn everything easily, and remember it well. How I could have excelled in Old English if I had practiced this. How much easier it would have all been.
Let me tell you about Thomas A. Edison. Do you know him? There is a commercial on TV in which Thomas A. Edison's picture is flashed on the screen with the picture of the first light bulb and a statement accompanies that he was the man who brought light to the world. Let me tell you about Thomas A. Edison. He was born on the frontier of America; it was Nebraska then. His father was a soldier in the army, a very poorly paid soldier. His mother was the daughter of a West point graduate, a well-educated woman. When Tommy was six he was sent to school. After about a week, Tommy came home from school dragging his feet and with a note from the teacher which said, "Keep Tommy home, he is too dumb to learn." This really incensed Tommy's mother, so she said, "If they are too dumb to teach my boy, then I will teach him," and she did. Not only did she teach him to read, but to love to read also. Because the family income was meager, Tommy, when all the other children were in school, commuted on a train between his little community and a town which was half a day's distance away. This little town had a library, a rather large library, and because he loved to read, while he was waiting for the return train, he would go into the library and read. When he went home he would take an armful of books.
Now, because Tommy did not go to school he didn't learn two things, (now try and remember these two things that he did not learn because he didn't go to school). He didn't learn that learning was hard: he thought it was fun - - all his life he thought it was fun, and he would bring home armfuls of books - - it mattered not the subject. It could be chemistry, biology, botany, art, literature. It didn't matter, he loved to read and by the time he was 17 he had read 1600 books! How many have you read? It is kind of embarrassing isn't it (He read 1600 books.) Now, because he didn't go to school he never learned that learning was hard, and because he did not go to school he never learned that he was only supposed to learn so much. Now if he took a book home he didn't just read chapter one. (You wouldn't dare read more than chapter one if that is what your teacher told you to read. It is unthinkable, isn't it?) Because he didn't know that he was to read only chapter one, guess what he did? That is right, he read the whole book.
It is no wonder that from such resource, Thomas A. Edison filled five notebooks with ideas for inventions. In his life span of nearly 90 years, working almost around the clock, taking brief 15 minute intervals of rest when fatigue made it mandatory, he only got to go as far as the first half of those notebooks. Ever since his death, many have been developing his ideas contained in the second half. Because he ever thought learning was fun and limitless, his memory was full of light that forged his ideas into creations that helped shape a new civilization.
Do you know that in our library here at Ricks there are worlds upon worlds to explore. I came to Ricks College when I was a Junior in High School and I never will forget the thrill of discovery in that library. I cannot walk through it even today without being aware of books with arms just reaching out saying "take me, take me." And they are all so exciting, so inviting. A whole world of art, literature, history, science are contained in the Ricks College Library.
How I love music, and I have thirsted to know more about it all my life; not just to read it and play it, but to know its history and theory. Do you know where I found books upon books of all these things I wanted to know - - in the libraries. I didn't have to take a class in Music History. I had been absorbing it through books I had desired throughout my life.
There are things just begging you to learn and explore, but don't just read chapter one, read the whole thing - it can prove exciting; but remember, except we do it "with real intent" it is wasted on us. We should have the courage to do what we should, when no one is around to tell us to do it. One man said that is the mark of an educated man. Can we have the courage to get up a little earlier in the day for scripture reading, so that our day can be filled with light and truth? Can we have the courage to study when everybody else is idle? Can we have the courage to study when we should, and do it with all our hearts? It is important! Do we have the courage to turn off TV, Stereo and Radio - that takes real courage even for older folks, doesn't it? - and explore the world and the wonder of our inheritance, for your inheritance is beautiful!
We talk about the wonder of the age we are living in, the Magic age where everything is available. The art of all the ages is right over there in the library. The music of all the ages is available and needs only to be "turned on" - the great music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart. It is an exciting age in which to live!
I had the privilege once of being in Europe for a short time and of going to many of the great art museums. One museum belonged, at one time, to some great Prince who had spent a fortune collecting the art of the ages, and then a last member of the family, who couldn't pay the taxes, said "we will turn this into a museum so that others can enjoy it." It was not until the late 1800's (that is not very long ago, is it?) that the art treasures of the world were available to me and to you. We are among the first throughout long ages of time that have had that privilege. And, oh, the beauty of art that is waiting for you to explore.
Read! I have already challenged you to read, (do you remember) the 93rd Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. I am going to challenge you further to read the 88th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. There the Lord tells us, "to teach ye diligently and labor diligently." Take this challenge, too. The greatest teacher you will ever have, believe me, is yourself. I do appreciate my teachers, but those things I have explored for myself and taken to myself and by my own desire, are the things that are really staying with me. You are your greatest teacher, so teach diligently and labor diligently.
I rejoice in the Book of John - the gospel of John, and what an example it is. Read it to get the example of the Savior, His relationships to His Father - - it is so beautiful! Over and over the Savior said: "I have come to do the work of my Father . . . I have come to do all things that I have seen my Father do." How He expresses His love, His devotion, His obedience in humility, and yet that humility revealed here is the strength of eternity. Read the Book of John and follow the great example of the Savior in relationship to His Father. Try to emulate that example in your lives. Follow the word of the Lord, love Him, serve Him, obey Him.
A scripture that is a great challenge to me in my life is found in the 78th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 19 - - a very simple verse - - and with it I come now, full circle back to vision and faith. But remember only are things valuable in our lives unless "we do them with all our hearts." - unless we are grateful, unless we are thankful. This scripture summarizes it all: "And he who receiveth all things," now pause for a moment - "all things" - - does this mean the pain, the sorrow, the frustration, the tribulation as well as the joy and the happiness and the fullness? Now the full scripture: "He who receiveth all things in thankfulness, shall be made glorious, and the things of this earth shall be opened up unto him a hundred fold, yea even more."
Let us be thankful, let us climb the steps of faith, live in the light of vision and make courage our companion. This is my prayer for you, and for us all, and I say it humbly, and in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.