When President Thomas S. Monson was a young boy, he and his family spent many-a-Summer vacationing at Vivian Park in Provo, Utah. Like many other young boys, President Monson had a knack for getting into trouble. One day, in June, he and his friend, Danny Larsen, decided to clear an area of grass where their families could have a big bonfire at night.
“For some reason, Tommy thought that burning fire to that June grass would burn a circle sufficient to allow for the bonfire that night and then the grass would just extinguish itself. To the horror of Tommy and Danny, the June grass blazed like a gasoline fire and the flames began to follow the wild grass up the mountainside, endangering the pine trees. Within minutes, every available man at Vivian Park was dragging wet burlap bags to smother the blaze.”
When I heard this story from President Monson’s past, I felt within me a great kinship with our dear prophet.
When I was younger, my best friend and I would often play in the desert near our home in Las Vegas, Nevada. She and I would explore the vast sandy region, and together we discovered plenty of hidden treasure and played many-a-game of make-believe. Often we would find left behind belongings of homeless persons or drifters, and we would explore their deserted temporary homes.
The Summer I turned eleven proved to be a lonely Summer for me. For the first time, my best friend and I hadn’t attended the same school and she had made new friends and no longer spent much time with me. One day I found myself alone in our desert playground. I engaged in a game of make-believe and soon found myself playing with matches and set fire to an old spring mattress. I became terrified as the bed burst into flames that grew larger and larger.
I distinctively remember contemplating in my mind whether I should make a run for it, or head to a nearby house for help. I decided to ‘fess up, and found myself ringing the bell of a very surprised woman who called 911 and waited with me until the fire department and my father arrived.
From his experience, President Monson learned to: “Look beyond the immediate to the possible conclusion of an activity.”
Me? I just learned that you shouldn’t play with matches.
I am so grateful that I came across this story from President Monson’s youth. For years and years my mistake has embarrassed me. I have felt so foolish for what I did that hot summer day, and I have always regretted it. But, it was just a folly of my youth. And because it happened, and because I can relate to President Monson’s similar experience, I better understand the lesson that he learned. It might be nearly seventeen years later, but now I hope to be able to apply President Monson’s lesson into my own life. Whether it be the way I talk to my children, or the way I treat my spouse, or the way I carry out my church calling, or the way I utilize my time throughout the day; whatever it may be, I hope to be able to: “look beyond the immediate to the possible conclusion of an activity.”