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Michael Middleton|May 26, 2015 Good morning, brothers and sisters. It is a pleasure to be with you. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: If the stars should appear [only] one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown [in the heavens]!1 Gazing upward into the blazing splendor of the night sky, we see thousands of distant stars and even more distant galaxies. This is truly amazing—and our reaction to it is equally remarkable. Think about what we do when we stargaze. Seeing light that left some distant suns about the time Columbus sailed for the New World, we immediately start creating associations between completely unrelated spheres—stars that are tens or hundreds of light years from each other and often even farther from the earth. Making such mental connections gives the stars familiarity and meaning, and we begin to see them not only as separate points of light but as constellations—a scorpion, a hunter named Orion, or the Big Dipper. There are practical uses for such astronomical inkblots. Try this: show your significant other pictures of various constellations and ask what he or she sees. If his answers are various types of weapons or characters from Middle Earth or if she replies, “I see a diamond engagement ring,” three out of four times, perhaps you should imitate the ancient mariners who navigated by the stars and make a course correction. One example of my own astrological incompetence is that for many years I thought I was seeing all of Ursa Major, or the Big Bear, which, candidly, to me looked a lot like a big dipper. In fact, I thought the Big Dipper and the Big Bear were simply two names for the same group of seven stars—until a wise friend explained that the Big Dipper is not actually a constellation but merely an asterism, or part of a constellation. I learned that you must include another twelve stars for the Big Dipper to become the Big Bear. Now, obviously I had seen those twelve stars before, but I had failed to recognize how they connected to and expanded what I already knew. Similarly, in the few minutes we share today, I propose to offer four points of light for your consideration, in hopes that by thinking about them together and by connecting them to stars already in your life’s sky, they will provide you with additional illumination and with greater direction in your life while at BYU and beyond. A First Star: Work Is Work Work is work, and that’s okay; it is acceptable, normal, expected, and part of the plan. Whether you are a BYU student, faculty member, or staff employee, if you don’t like work, you have come to the wrong university, and likely to the wrong planet. Schoolwork, missionary work, homework, and housework—the part-time job you have now and the career vocation you may one day take on—each of these will be wo
Thomas H. Morris|May 1, 2012 It is an honor to be with you. I pray the Spirit may dwell with all of us. Today I would like to share some thoughts about time. To illustrate some aspects of time, I wish to tell you about a few of my heroes—one from the Book of Mormon, one from the field of science, and one who is very personal. I, like you, have many heroes: the great coaches and teachers I have had, my PhD advisor, my colleagues, my brother and sister, my great parents, my sons, my sweetheart, and many, many others. These people have believed in me and have given me a chance. I will be forever in their debt, for they shared their time with me—and time is one of the most precious commodities of this life. As a petroleum geologist, I am awed by the power of fossil fuels. Think of it: we can dump a little bit of gasoline in a tank, start up an engine, pile ten people (or undergraduates, as the case may be) into an 8,000-pound van, and drive up a mountainside at seventy miles per hour—simply by depressing a pedal a couple of inches. This alone would make fossil fuels a precious commodity, but in our modern hydrocarbon society, many of us also use them to heat our homes, cook our pancakes, and warm our morning showers. To all of us, fossil fuels are a precious commodity. Yet fossil fuels are also a finite resource. It has taken Mother Nature millions of years to deposit, generate, migrate, and trap this precious commodity in the rocks buried deeply beneath Earth’s surface. Yet it is estimated that, starting from the Industrial Revolution, it will take humankind only 300 years to deplete this finite resource—a blip on even the human-history timescale.1 This then begs the following questions: What is my stewardship of this resource? and How will I use it? Today for a few moments I would like us to consider these same questions relative to our time on Earth—this short mortal existence. Carl Sagan, the author and great spokesman for the television series Cosmos, used to browbeat us by telling us that we as humankind are arrogant to assume that there is not life beyond our planet, given the immensity of space and the universe. This concept was easy enough for LDS people to grasp; yet after a lifetime of study, Sagan found no solid evidence for extraterrestrial life. In fact, in viewing our tiny blue planet from space, he said, “It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known: the pale blue dot.”2 Before his premature death due to myelodysplasia,3 Carl Sagan suggested that life on Earth is pretty precious and that we should take care of our planet. May I suggest that time on Earth is pretty precious. Maybe we should take better care of it. Indeed, just like fossil fuels, it is a precious commodity and a finite resource. The questions resurface: What is my stewardship over my time on Earth
Dieter F. Uchtdorf|Apr. 23, 2009 President Samuelson, honored guests, parents, family members, graduates, my dear brothers and sisters—Sister Uchtdorf and I extend our congratulations, commendation, and deep love to all of you whom we honor on this happy day. Even nature seems to be honoring you with the beauties of springtime as we mark the culmination of many years of hard work and study. It is a great privilege for us to be with you today. And we are pleased to be with Elder and Sister Nelson, who are wonderful friends and true servants of the Lord. I love this university. During my years as an airline captain, I would sometimes cross this beautiful part of Utah on flights from Frankfurt, Germany, to Los Angeles. When I did, I would often announce to the passengers that if they looked out their windows they would have the privilege of seeing the world-famous Brigham Young University below. Some captains might reserve such an announcement for sites like the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower, but to me Brigham Young University has always had a special place in my heart. My wife and I did not have the privilege of attending BYU as students. However, our daughter received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees here—and, by the way, she graduated summa cum laude. I assume that there are enough proud parents here today who can easily recognize one of their own. Let me share with you briefly why the memory of our daughter’s BYU experience is so tender to us. Only a few months before receiving her degree, our daughter gave birth to twin boys who arrived six weeks early. Talk about student efficiency! When we observed how she and her husband found time to raise these two little babies while at the same time finishing their schooling, we were convinced that there is a special spirit at BYU. In this atmosphere not only does knowledge grow and multiply, so does the population! My wife and I came all the way from Germany to attend our daughter’s commencement exercises. We sat way up there in the high bleachers with the two little babies in a double stroller, watching the students receive their diplomas. Little did we know that 19 years later we would be here once again, attending another commencement—this time with slightly better seats—representing the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By the way, our handsome twin grandsons, who were born at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, are now six feet tall and serving missions for the Lord in Asia. Isn’t it wonderful how life brings change, challenges, and blessings into our lives? Today is a significant day of change for all of you. It is a day of closing and opening doors. It is a day of gratitude and rejoicing, a day of acknowledgment of our many debts to God, family, and friends. It is a day of radiant horizons and great expectations, and perhaps a day of a few fears as well. My wife, Harriet, and I are honored to share this moment
Dallin H. Oaks|Jan. 29, 2002 The most significant academic talks I heard during my service at BYU had one common characteristic. Instead of providing new facts or advocating a particular position, as many lectures do, the most significant talks changed the listeners’ way of thinking about an important subject. Though I am a devotional speaker rather than a lecturer on an academic subject, I am going to make that same attempt today. I will attempt to change some listeners’ ways of thinking about an important subject—the matter of timing. I begin with a story I heard many years ago at the inauguration of a university president. It illustrates the importance of timing in university administration. One university president had come to the end of his period of service, and another was just beginning. As a gesture of goodwill, the wise outgoing president handed his young successor three sealed envelopes. “Hold these until you have the first crisis in your administration,” he explained. “Then open the first one, and you will find some valuable advice.” It was a year before the new president had a crisis. When he opened the first envelope, he found a single sheet of paper on which were written the words “Blame the prior administration.” He followed that advice and survived the crisis. Two years later he faced another serious challenge to his leadership. He opened the second envelope and read: “Reorganize your administration.” He did so, and the reorganization disarmed his critics and gave new impetus to his leadership. Much later the now-seasoned president encountered his third major crisis. Eagerly he opened the last envelope, anticipating the advice that would provide the solution for his troubles. Again he found a single sheet of paper, but this time it read, “Prepare three envelopes.” It was time for new leadership. The familiar observation that “timing is everything” surely overstates the point, but timing is vital. We read in Ecclesiastes: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; . . . A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; . . . [A] time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; . . . [A] time to keep silence, and a time to speak. [Ecclesiastes 3:1–2, 4–5, 7] In all the important decisions in our lives, what is most important is to do the right thing. Second, and only slightly behind the first, is to do the right thing at the right time. People who do the right thing at the wrong time can be frustrated and ineffective. They can even be confused about whether they made the right choice when what was wrong was not their choice but their timing. I. The Lord’s Timing My first point on the su
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