This morning in my church program there was this quote from a talk by President Monson entitled "Hidden Wedges."
The spirit must be freed from tethers so strong and feelings never put to rest, so that the lift of life may give buoyancy to the soul. In many families, there are hurt feelings and a reluctance to forgive. It doesn’t really matter what the issue was. It cannot and should not be left to injure. Blame keeps wounds open. Only forgiveness heals. George Herbert, an early 17th-century poet, wrote these lines: “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven, for everyone has need of forgiveness.”
I took this picture in a cherry tree orchard in Utah. One can see that those are new cherry trees. I find it interesting that those cherry trees stand straight as the wooden poles next to them have bent in the wind. Perhaps the trees were once tethered to the poles to keep them upright, but now they stand on their own. They have been freed. When we forgive and lay down our grudges and hurt feelings we, too, are freed.
President Monson's talk in General Conference of April 2002 began like this:
In April 1966, at the Church’s annual general conference, Elder Spencer W. Kimball gave a memorable address. He quoted an account written by Samuel T. Whitman entitled “Forgotten Wedges.” Today I, too, have chosen to quote from Samuel T. Whitman, followed by examples from my own life.
Whitman wrote: “The ice storm [that winter] wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents along the highway. … Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage.
farmer [who now inhabited the property on which it stood] was a lad on his father’s homestead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley, and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about. …
On this particular day, it was a faller’s wedge—wide, flat, and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings [—which the lad found] … in the south pasture. [A faller’s wedge, used to help fell a tree, is inserted in a cut made by a saw and then struck with a sledge hammer to widen the cut.] … Because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge … between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way.
He truly meant to, but he never did. [The wedge] was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree. … Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came.
In the chill silence of that wintry night … one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once-proud tree remained.
Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss. … Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. ‘The wedge,’ he muttered reproachfully. ‘The wedge I found in the south pasture.’ A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing, edge-up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.”
My dear brothers and sisters, there are hidden wedges in the lives of many whom we know—yes, perhaps in our own families. (Use the link above to read the entire talk.)
So as I muse on this Sabbath Day, I encourage you to start 2013 with the buoyancy of soul which comes from removing wedges of feelings hurt, wrongs imagined, and grudges held. Let you life be lightened through forgiveness of others and a reliance on the Savior's gift of grace.