The tree, like all still-standing-but-no-longer-living trees in the immediate area, was checked.
Then it was checked again.Camp leaders, sizing up the area before they pitched their tents, didn't just give the tree a little nudge. They pushed on it hard. If there were any chance of it falling, they wanted it to fall according to their direction – before the girls set up camp.
But the tree was sturdy. It wasn't ready to fall.
It was, however, unexplainably ready to fall just a few days later. And when it did, it wreaked tragedy. A young girl, barely 12 years old, was in the tree's path. Death, doctors later said, was instantaneous.
For the victim, the blow was probably painless. And the emptiness of being separated from earthly friends and loved ones, was no-doubt soothed, not only by returning to that great God who gave her life, but by an increased understanding of eternal life.
But to loved ones left here on earth, the blow could have been unbearable – had a merciful Father in Heaven not given His children the Comforter.
"Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts. . . ." (D&C 88:3)
" . . . the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter . . . showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom." (D&C 39:6)
The Holy Ghost has many names. Yet when we are entangled by the turmoil and strife of our telestial world, the Holy Ghost's role as the comforter is a fitting help and blessing. When nothing else helps, the influence of the Spirit will tenderly encircle us with the Father's love, bringing comfort far beyond the normal realm of this mortal existence.
And that's precisely what happened to this lovely young girl's grieving family.
Shocked and saddened, ward members rallied with love and support. No need was left unattended. Love, faith – and comfort – flowed freely from ward members to a brother, a mother and a father who would never again in this life see their sweet sister and daughter.
But those same things – love, faith and comfort – somehow flowed just as freely in the opposite direction – from the family to friends and fellow Saints whose needs, though perhaps not as great, were equally real.
Of that, the family's bishop said this:
"The family had great perspective. They comforted others. How they allowed the Spirit to enter their hearts and buoy them up is a great example in my life of the power of the Comforter. There was a sweetness in what they did that transcended normal human behavior. It was the most remarkable experience I've ever been through in showing the power of the Comforter."
That blessing of comfort and perspective was well-evident in the father's words to ward members.
"Life offers many great lessons to be learned. I pray that we can stand worthy to learn when the opportunity is there. I am overwhelmed by the love that has been shown to us, and I am overwhelmed by the impact of the Plan of Salvation in our lives."
Then, looking eternally at his immediate loss, he said his family has felt "great joy – that surpasses happiness or smiling faces. We are so very grateful for the Lord's comfort."
In their time of greatest need, this family felt the joy and love of a kind God's promise that He would not leave us comfortless. (See John 14:18.)
" . . . and (the Father) shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
"Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, (John 14: 16-17.)
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27.)
The hearts of those who understand the Lord's atonement and teachings won't be troubled or afraid. They are they who understand that His peace is far beyond anything this world has to offer. They will have comfort.