on a literal odyssey
Have you ever seen a miracle? Have you ever witnessed an outpouring of remarkable, unexplainable events that are too “coincidental” to even be coincidental?
In my life, I’ve had many of those kinds of experiences and this video, set to a song by Shawna Belt Edwards, has been one of those.
From that song comes this chorus:
“Do you have room for the Savior? And do you seek Him anew? Have you a place for the one who lived and died for you? Are you as humble as a shepherd boy or as wise as men of old? Would you have come that night? Would you have sought the light? Do you have room?”
With overwhelming gratitude, I present to you this remarkable, Christmas gift:
The chorus struck me deeply: “Would you have come that night? Would you have sought the light? Do you have room?”
President Thomas S. Monson wrote:
..do we flush with embarrassment when we remember, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7.) No room. No room. No room. Ever has it been.
As we undertake our personal search for Jesus, aided and guided by the principle of prayer, it is fundamental that we have a clear concept of him whom we seek…And when we find him, will we be prepared as were the wise men of old to provide gifts from our many treasures? They presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are not the gifts Jesus asks of us. From the treasure of our hearts Jesus asks that we give of ourselves: “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.” (D&C 64:34.)
In this marvelous dispensation of the fulness of times, our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.
As we remember that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17), we will not find ourselves in the unenviable position of Jacob Marley’s ghost, who spoke to Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’s immortal A Christmas Carol. Marley spoke sadly of opportunities lost. Said he…“Why did I walk through crowds of fellow beings with my eyes turned down, and never raised them to that blessed star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me?”
In a vain effort to comfort Marley, Scrooge proffered: “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.” Lamented Marley: “Mankind was my business!”
That is the message that this song (and video) attempts to convey. In seeking Christ, we will find Him in the service and love we render to others.
Background on the Song and Video:
In 2009, Shawna created a video (herself) to this song and sent it out to her family via YouTube. It became an overnight success, gaining over 100,000 views during the holiday season.
About the song, Shawna wrote:
I originally wrote this song as a Christmas gift for my family, and I sang it to them on Christmas Eve. It was inspired by President Monson’s 1990 Ensign article entitled The Search for Jesus. For the next 4 or 5 years, my dad would occasionally ask me, “Have you done anything with that song?” But other than a few hundred print copies I placed in a local music store, the answer was, “Not yet.”
My dad died suddenly and unexpectedly about two years ago. He was my first, and biggest fan. In my youth, I sat at the piano and practiced for hours and hours, and my dad would sit in a wing back chair in the corner and listen. Lots of people listened to me perform, but he was the only one who listened to me practice. That meant more to me than anything he could have ever given me.
I have kept thinking that the best way I could honor him would be to do something with the song. So I put it with the video and shared it a month ago at our Stake Music Night. I later posted it on YouTube and sent the link to 5 people. (3 of my kids live out of town, and I figured it would be an easy way for them to see it.) They shared it with a few people, and the rest is history.
I think it’s an incredible example of the power of the Internet for GOOD. 3 1/2 weeks ago, the song was still tucked away in my music file drawer. But now, it will be sung around the world this Christmas in Sacrament Meetings, firesides, Christmas Eve worship services, outdoor pageants, Evangelical gatherings, small town churches, interfaith celebrations, seminary classes, neighborhood parties, and (my favorite) Family Home Evenings.
However, due to copyright issues, Shawna decided to take the song down. A couple of weeks ago, Shawna was looking for some help in remaking that video, and, through the act of an internet angel, she and I were able to connect.
And thus began a string of miraculous circumstances surrounding the creation of this video:
Though my family lives in Utah, I travel quite a bit. In recent months, I’ve been working in Arizona at the ANASAZI Foundation. I wasn’t even supposed to be home at the time that I was contacted by Shawna Belt Edwards but certain (serendipitous) events brought me home for an extra week. Because of this, I was able to meet up with Shawna and work with her directly on the video.
Another thing is that Shawna was hoping to have the project done by the 18th of November (the same day that she released it the year before—for good karma). Ironically, that was the only time frame in which I could complete the video.
With humility, I extend my profound gratitude to MormonSoprano for informing me about this song. And to Shawna Belt Edwards for allowing me into her home and allowing me to work on a such a beautiful and miraculous project. The serendipitous circumstances which have surrounded this music have overwhelmed me. I am grateful to Shawna for allowing me to play a part in this magnificent and divine orchestration.
Post Script: I’m proud to say that my biggest contribution to the video project is at the end—a quote, by Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Each of us is an inn-keeper who decides if there is room for Jesus!”