LDS intellectual: Care for little things yields big results
Orson Hyde advised farmers to reserve time for relaxation.
By Kristen Rogers-iversen
Orson Hyde has a name that many people recognize, but most of what he did isn't too well known. Mildly famous for a long, dangerous mission to Palestine, where he dedicated the land for the return of the Jews, Orson was kind of plain and stocky and short. He wore short hair and a clipped beard. Behind those average looks was an incredible, energetic, enigmatic life -- one that ended on Thanksgiving Day, 1878.
I like -- but follow poorly -- some advice he gave to LDS Church members gathered for general conference in 1865.
Hyde was talking to farmers, but this advice can apply to anyone. As the head of colonizing efforts in Sanpete County, he had seen men trying to farm too many acres, thinking they could get ahead this way. But they couldn't manage so much: "They run from break of day until dark of night, wearing themselves out" and still couldn't get everything done.
Instead, he advised the people to tend smaller tracts .
Hyde felt that if a person really cared for a small farm well, the farm would produce as much or more than a larger tract that gets less focused attention. Besides, he said, "if we branch out so largely, we have no time to make necessary improvements around our homes and in our cities; in fact, we have so much to do that we can do nothing at all."
It was not just a matter of getting things done. Hyde taught that people needed time to kick back and relax. "The mind should not constantly be on the strain day and night. There should be a little time for relaxation and rest to both body and mind, that while our bodies are resting the mind may be fresh to plan...."
So, how the heck did he do that?
He himself farmed wheat, for instance. Could he make a living growing wheat on a few acres?
More pressingly, it seems like he had a lot of figurative "acres" throughout his life. For one thing, he had several wives - -- the marital equivalent of lots of acreage. Besides this, he went on heroic and lengthy missions for the LDS Church, supervised immigration, led a wagon train, became an irrigation and agricultural expert, directed settlements in central Utah, worked with railroads and sawmills and served as a university regent, newspaper editor, legislator, lawyer and judge. For 28 years he presided over the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
He worked hard to achieve all this. Born in 1805, Orson lost both his parents early. So he worked for an impoverished family until age 18, and when he left to fend for himself he had 6 ½ cents in his pocket. He had never gone to school, but at age 22 he decided to get educated. First he learned grammar, then he tackled more subjects until he became learned indeed. He became one of the intellectuals among early LDS leaders.
In this busy life, I hope he was able to achieve the balance he preached about -- which would prove that this balance is achievable! In the meantime, I'll try to remember that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things that he possesses ... but it consists in a little well cared for and everything in order."
Kristen Rogers-Iversen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Orson Hyde Advised Farmers To Reserve Time For Relaxation / Lloyd
It was customary in our mission for missionaries to review their patriarchal blessing with the president. During my interview the mission...