On the western side of the bustling and internationally visited tourist site of the Forbidden City is a marvelous garden, called Zhongshan Park. Set aside from the busyness of the tourist attractions surrounding it, this park welcomes families and individuals to a peaceful, relaxing scene that breathes a spirit of calm and contemplation. There is a feeling here that sets it apart from the rest of the world.
On January 9th, 1921, David O. McKay and Elder Hugh J. Cannon visited this very spot for a very specific purpose.
|David O. McKay beside|
the Cypress Tree
"Accordingly, we strolled almost aimlessly, wondering where it would be possible to find a secluded spot for worship and prayer. On we walked, until we came to a small grove of cypress trees on the edge of what appeared to have been an old moat running parallel with one of the walls. As we proceeded from east to west, we passed a tree with a large branch shooting out on the north side, and I distinctly received the prompting to choose that as the spot.
"Under the century old limbs and green leaves of this, one of God's own temples, with uncovered heads, we supplicated our Father in heaven and by the authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, and in the name of the Only Begotten of the Father, turned the key that unlocked the door for the entrance into this..... famine-stricken land (by) the authorized servants of God...."
The tree where David O. McKay stood years ago to utter these sacred words still stands. The large limb that jutted off to the side has since been cut off, but one can see where the limb used to be.
What a sacred experience it was for us to stand on holy ground, an Asian "Church History Spot", still well preserved, open to all, and visited by many members of the Church on their visits through Beijing.
The history continues, "Never was the power of his calling more apparent in his utterances. He blessed the land and its... people and supplicated the Almighty to acknowledge this blessing. It was such a prayer and blessing as must be recognized in heaven, and though the effects may not be suddenly apparent, they will be nonetheless real."
It may be a long time before the entire content of his prayer is fulfilled, but we are grateful to see the blessings that are occurring throughout all of Asia, and are grateful to be a part of the unfolding of this great work.
Elder and Sister Coffey
Elder and Sister Coffey