President Monson told a story during his talk in the opening session of the April 1975 conference that really resonated with me and was consistent with my experience in finding the Church:
“From our youth many of us may remember the story of a very young boy who was abducted from his parents and home and taken to a village situated far away. Under these conditions the small boy grew to young manhood without a knowledge of his actual parents or earthly home. Within his heart there came a yearning to return to that village called home.
But where was home to be found? Where were his mother and father to be discovered? Oh, if only he could remember even their names, his task would be less hopeless. Desperately he sought to recall even a glimpse of his childhood.
Like a flash of inspiration, he remembered the sound of a bell which, from the tower atop the village church, pealed its welcome each Sabbath morning. From village to village the young man wandered, ever listening for that familiar bell to chime. Some bells were similar, others far different from the sound he remembered.
At length the weary young man stood one Sunday morning before a church of a typical town. He listened carefully as the bell began to peal. The sound was familiar. It was unlike any other he had heard, save that bell which pealed in the memory of his childhood days. Yes, it was the same bell. Its ring was true. His eyes filled with tears. His heart rejoiced in gladness. His soul overflowed with gratitude. The young man dropped to his knees, looked upward beyond the bell tower—even toward heaven—and in a prayer of gratitude whispered, ‘Thanks be to God. I’m home.'”
Many of us are like that young man. We have stirrings and memories of a celestial childhood, but do not know how to get back. Those memories are so faint, but at certain moments we feel a certain striving within.We intuitively grasp after divine truth like a divine reflex that is rooted in our soul. Yet, so many of us begin to doubt our feelings and come to see the longing for eternity as naive or foolish. We stop searching for our heavenly home and become complacent with earthly vistas.
When I first learned about the Church, I had gone through a period in my life where I had stopped searching. I had turned my self off completely to the possibility of the divine. Worse yet, I felt that I did not need God at all. Yet, God would not led me wander too far away. He gave me experiences and put people in my path that humbled me and rekindled that sacred striving within. And when I finally encountered the Church, the doctrine rang true like a long forgotten bell. I felt at home.
President Monson ended with this poignant invitation to all:
“Like the peal of a remembered bell will be the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the soul of him who earnestly seeks. Many of you have traveled long in a personal quest for that which rings true. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends forth to you an earnest appeal. Open your doors to the missionaries. Open your minds to the word of God. Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that still, small voice which testifies of truth. As the prophet Isaiah promised: ‘Thine ears shall hear a word … saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.’ (Isa. 30:21.) Then, like the boy of whom I’ve spoken, you too will, on bended knee, say to your God and mine: ‘I’m home!'”
Other posts focusing on this session of conference: