The spirit of the Education in Zion Gallery is one of eternal reflection. The stories of Saints long gone—and yet ever-present by their works of dedication—are a source of reflection; pictures of their solemn, smiling, or firmly determined expressions tell their stories.
What did it matter that there were no papers, pencils, maps, or other teaching supplies? Their ingenuity provided the basics to learn: quill pens were created from chicken feathers, ink from crushed bearberries, and pencils from the charcoal ends of blackened sticks pulled from the fire. And what did they write on? They wrote on their hands, arms, and old rags until Church President Brigham Young brought the first paper mill to Salt Lake Valley in 1857. These early Mormon settlers of the Great Basin had not wasted the first decade in the Salt Lake Valley. The Saints had been very busy establishing farms, houses, and a few businesses, and they were also laboring to construct temples and schools.
The statement, “Man cannot be saved in ignorance” (D&C 131:6) rang through their very beings, and so they labored. The Saints labored to learn the gospel through diligent scripture study and they built temples where they would administer sacred ordinances while also gaining an education of the spirit. They constructed schools where they could “become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people”, (D&C 90:15) an education of the secular mind.
To stroll through the gallery is to feel of their unseen and yet ever-zealous desire to be educated and to educate. This spirit implores us to waste no time on worldly pursuits of no eternal value, but to cherish that which is unseen, our accomplishments yet to be realized in our pursuit to be “taught from on high” (D&C 43:16).