In May 2012, Elder Marlin K. Jensen had been recently released as Church Historian and Recorder when he spoke to Latter-day Saint young adults about the Sacred Grove. Elder Jensen served as president of the New York Rochester Mission, so the grove where the First Vision occurred carries special significance for him.
“While serving as mission president, my family and I came to love that grove of trees and to feel of its sacredness,” he said, before inviting those within the sound of his voice to come with him “virtually into the Sacred Grove.”
Elder Jensen then explained that during his time in Palmyra he learned valuable insights regarding the grove from Brother Robert Parrott, a forester and naturalist employed by the Church whose responsibility it is to maintain the condition of the grove. Drawing from these insights, Elder Jensen shared four of “Life’s Lessons from the Sacred Grove”:
1. Trees always grow toward the light
2. Trees require opposition to fulfill the measure of their creation
3. Trees are best grown in forests, not in isolation
4. Trees draw strength from the nutrients created by previous generations of trees.
In conclusion, Elder Jensen spoke of six trees that remain in the Sacred Grove that were growing in the grove in 1820. They are called “witness trees.” Elder Jensen said that during his mission he would often go and stand in reverence next to his favorite of these trees.
“I used to imagine that if that tree could talk it would tell me what it witnessed that spring day in 1820,” he said. “But I really didn’t need that tree to tell me — I already knew. By virtue of spiritual experiences and feelings beginning in my youth and continuing to this very hour, I have come to know, independent of any other person, that God, our Father, lives.
“I know, too, that His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. I know these two glorified Beings appeared to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove in the spring of 1820.”
Read the entire talk here.