By Reggie Voyce
The spirit of Education in Zion 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. Their faces— whether solemn, smiling, or firmly determined— tell their stories.
What did it matter that there was no paper, pens, pencils, maps or other necessities of teaching? Their ingenuity provided the basics to learn. Quill pens were created from chicken feathers, ink from crushed bearberries, pencils were the charcoal ends of blackened sticks pulled from the fire to cool before being used to write. And what did they write on? They wrote on their hands and arms and old rags until President Brigham Young brought the first paper mill to Salt Lake Valley in 1857. They had not wasted those first precious 10 years in the valley. They had built farms and businesses and were laboring on temples to the Most High and they built schools.
Their mission statement, “Man cannot be saved in ignorance” (D&C 131:6), rang in and through their very beings. They labored to learn the gospel through diligent scripture study and the building of temples to learn all the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel- the education of the soul. They labored on schools to learn and, “bec[ame] acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people” (D&C 90:15), the education of the secular mind.
To stroll through the gallery is to feel their unseen and yet ever zealous energies to be an educated people. 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).