Kaylene Harding: The ‘profound implications’ of the priesthood restoration

Editor’s note: This narrative is part of a Church News series titled “Women of Covenant,” in which women of the Church discuss their personal experiences with priesthood power and share what they have learned through following President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel to “labor with the Spirit to understand God’s power — priesthood power” (“Spiritual Treasures,” general conference, October 2019).

When I was 9 years old, my parents hooked up a U-Haul trailer to our Ford Galaxy 500 station wagon and embarked with our family on a 2,000-mile road trip. For the next year, we lived on the Martin Harris Farm in Palmyra, New York. Little did I know, this was the beginning of a lifelong journey to discover what President Russell M. Nelson calls our “highest spiritual treasures.”

I remember visiting old Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania one day. Dad parked the car near an old cemetery, and we jumped out to explore. A small gravestone caught my eye: “In Memory of An Infant Son of Joseph And Emma Smith June 15th 1828.” Alvin was their first child and had lived only a few hours. I imagined Emma and the Prophet Joseph’s heartache, as Dad told us more of their story. 

Kaylene Porter Harding, Primary general board member.
Kaylene Porter Harding, Primary general board member. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Although bitterly persecuted, Joseph worked diligently to translate The Book of Mormon, and Emma was his first scribe. Martin Harris was also scribe for a while, until the devastating loss of 116 pages of manuscript. Later, Oliver Cowdery arrived. As he and Joseph sought divine guidance, John the Baptist appeared to them near the Susquehanna River and restored the Aaronic Priesthood authority and the ordinance of baptism. Soon thereafter, Peter, James and John restored the Melchizedek Priesthood. In Oliver’s words, “these were days never to be forgotten.”

Anxious to investigate more, I scampered over to a nearby monument depicting the Aaronic Priesthood restoration. As I looked up at John the Baptist, with his hands on the heads of Joseph and Oliver, a tender burning filled my chest. I knew what was forged in bronze before me represented something that actually happened, and my heart was changed.

President Nelson declared: “Everything that happened in this area has profound implications for your lives” (“Spiritual Treasures” October 2019 general conference). So, I recently asked myself, how has what happened there impacted me?

As I pondered that question, I felt drawn to the first words given to Emma in Doctrine and Covenants 25: “Hearken unto the voice of the Lord.” In other words, “Hear Him.” Be still and listen. When I did so, the Spirit brought specific remembrances to my mind.

The Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood Monument erected in 1960, commemorates John the Baptist conferring the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on May 15, 1829 along the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania.
The Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood Monument erected in 1960, commemorates John the Baptist conferring the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on May 15, 1829 along the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania. Credit: Courtesy Kaylene Porter Harding

I remembered my life was preserved by priesthood power, when I contracted pneumonia as a baby. I thought of my baptism and my Dad’s large hands on my head conferring upon me the gift of the Holy Ghost. I vividly recalled the day I was sealed to my husband in the House of the Lord, and how the Lord sustained me through the births of our four children and sixteen grandchildren. 

The Lord tutored me through revelation from living prophets, The Book of Mormon and personal revelation. He strengthened me during lonely years when my husband traveled extensively for work. God sent helping hands to lift me, when I was so sick, I was helplessly crawling around the house trying to care for my preschoolers. He reminded me of opportunities He gave me to love, serve and forgive. He comforted me in the loss of loved ones with the assurance of eternal families and led me to participate in the glorious ministry of family history and temple work. 

I remembered tearfully, that the Lord and His angels were “round about me” as my husband and I served a demanding three-year mission in Eastern Europe, and that by His priesthood power, our precious 3-year-old grandson who drowned was miraculously restored to life. In times of both sorrow and happiness, He offered love, knowledge, comfort and peace. Literally, “Mine is a home where every hour, is blessed by the strength of priesthood power.” Why? Because He loves me, as He loves all His children.

David and Kaylene Harding at the Salt Lake Temple, where they were sealed 40 years ago.
David and Kaylene Harding at the Salt Lake Temple, where they were sealed 40 years ago. Credit: Courtesy Kaylene Porter Harding

Recognizing and remembering these incomparable “spiritual treasures” brought me gratefully to my knees in awe and love. Everything the Lord restored in Emma and Joseph’s day has had ongoing “profound implications” in my life’s journey, as it did in theirs and does in yours. Ask the Lord to show you how. 

When we choose to “hearken,” and exercise faith in the Lord, His power is unleashed in our lives. Amid all our trials and joys, I know, because of what happened in old Harmony, someday there will be perfect harmony.

In Harmony 

What lessons does Harmony hold for me?

What need I know about truth from Thee?

As I walk the path with eyes to see,

Please, tutor me in Harmony.

Thy Priesthood power restored to earth

Enables my humble soul’s rebirth,

If I hearken to Thy will, not mine,

I can accomplish Thy purpose divine.

As I walk Thy path — Ah, now I see,

I must tune and seal my heart to Thee.

When I find myself in harmony,

It’s more than a place, it’s a way to be.

Kaylene Harding