A Whispering in My Heart

    “A Whispering in My Heart,” Liahona, Mar. 2002, 4–6

    A Whispering in My Heart

    In 1878 President John Taylor called Saints to settle in the southern part of the state of Colorado in the United States. Early in the 1900s, Pa moved our family to that desolate land.

    Our new farm was littered with rocks. Before we could till the ground, we had to clear the rocks away. Ma and I hauled the small rocks away in a wheelbarrow, but there was only one way to remove the boulders—blow them up with dynamite.

    When all the small rocks were gone and it was time to start on the big ones, Pa dug under each one as far as he could and placed the dynamite underneath. He carefully set the dynamite in just the right places so the blast would tear the boulders completely apart.

    Finally everything was ready for Pa to light the fuse. Mama made sure we children were out of danger.


    The first boulder exploded into hundreds of fragments and a cloud of dust. When the dust settled, the boulder had disappeared. All that was left was a hole in the ground and many smaller rocks. Now it was my job to pick up the pieces of rock and fill the hole with dirt.

    We repeated the process; Pa lit the dynamite and I cleared away the shattered rock. After the third explosion, I was growing tired of picking up rocks and wanted to do the “real” work—lighting the dynamite. I took a few steps toward Pa.

    “Willard, stay back!” my mother called. I scowled. At nine, I was the oldest child and believed I was old enough to help.

    As I started back to the house, I was filled with a sense of danger. A whispering in my heart warned me that something was wrong.

    I didn’t understand. I wasn’t in any danger. I was far away from the blasting. Certain that I had imagined the warning, I concentrated on what Pa was doing. Maybe he would see that I was nearly grown and ready to work alongside him.

    The feeling of danger grew.

    I recalled the promise my father had made when he confirmed me a member of the Church: “I bless you with the power of discernment. Listen to the Spirit. It will guide you and protect you from harm.”

    I tried to ignore the voice, but it wouldn’t be still. I could no longer pretend I didn’t hear the insistent whisper.

    I bless you with the power of discernment.

    The words were as clear now as they had been when Pa pronounced the blessing more than a year earlier. If I wasn’t in danger, maybe the voice was telling me that someone else was. Ma was hanging clothes on the line, my little sister pulling at her skirt. Then I realized I couldn’t see three-year-old Hyrum.

    “Hyrum!” I shouted. “Hyrum!” Shading my eyes from the sun, I squinted into the distance. Then I saw him—heading toward the field, his chubby legs going as fast as he could make them.

    I ran after him, praying and shouting all at the same time. “Pa!” I screamed, waving my arms to attract his attention.

    His back was turned to me, and Pa couldn’t see or hear my warning—and he couldn’t see Hyrum toddling toward disaster.

    I reached Hyrum just as the boulder exploded. Throwing my body over his, I shielded him the best I could. Sharp rock fragments rained down on me, hitting my head, back, and legs.

    Hyrum began to squirm. “Heavy,” he said. “Get up.”

    I rolled off. My body screamed with pain, but I didn’t care. Gently, I ran my hands over my little brother.

    “Are you all right?” I asked.

    He wiggled away from me and stood. His chin wobbled and his eyes filled with tears, but he wasn’t hurt. “Scared,” he said.

    “I was scared too,” I said as I hugged him.

    By then Pa had reached us. Tears tracked through the dirt and grime on his face. His big arms circled us, squeezing tight. “How did you know your brother was in danger?” he asked me.

    I hesitated, not sure how to explain. “A voice told me something was wrong,” I said. “I didn’t pay attention at first, but it kept poking at me until I had to listen.” Then I confessed the part that stung my conscience. “If I had listened the first time, Hyrum wouldn’t have wandered away. He would never have been in danger.”

    Pa laid his big hand on my shoulder. “But you did listen. That’s the important thing.” Pa took a deep breath. “That was a brave thing you did, Willard.”

    “I prayed, Pa. I was praying so hard the words nearly choked me,” I told him.

    “So was I. So was I.”

    Ma and my little sister came running. Laughing and crying at the same time, Ma hugged me and Hyrum. Soon all of us were hugging and crying.

    A sweet feeling of peace settled around my heart as I knelt by my bed that night. My prayers took longer than usual as I thanked Heavenly Father for the whisperings of the Spirit in my heart.

    Illustrations by Mark Robison