Covenants, most often made
on mountains high and grand
are tested in the valleys
full of rocks and mud and sand.
Promises we make so easily
with eternity in view
seem to fade to unimportance
when we only see forward a step or two.
Vows to climb ever onward,
ever upward to the sky
may be forgotten when we face the cliffs
and see their daunting height.
But words are worth too much
to leave behind when times get tough.
They are the lifeline to hold on to
when present sight is not enough.
For who would climb the heights
of cliffs and mountains standing high
if they had not promised to climb them
however many times it took to try?
Who would take another step
into the darkest night
who had not once seen the joys of day
and gave their word to seek the light?
Who would climb the mountains high
and face the valley’s troubles
who had not covenanted to go on
through all life’s rugged struggles?
And who would reach the highest height
and travel through the lowest low?
Those who covenanted to seek the Best,
and follow Him back home.
Written Apr 07, 2018
The title and idea of this poem is one I thought about often on my mission, as I noticed that the missionaries that were the greatest were those who strove to do even the small things as well as they could. This is something I have thought about a lot recently, and it rings true to me. One of my favorite quotes is “Most often it is the sacrifices we make to keep our covenants that sanctify us and make us holy,” by Sister Carol F. McConkie in her conference talk The Beauty of Holiness, and I think that fits perfectly with this poem.
Excellence in the little things
We who seek excellence
In eternity and in forever
Truly seek for excellence
In the little things.
Excellence comes after growing
From grace to grace.
If we never perfect our little virtues,
Perfect excellence will never be our virtue
Each of us, and this whole world
Changes all at once.
The question of excellence, then,
Is a question of how to grow in a storm.
Excellence is acting,
Excellence is choosing,
Not living others’ choices.
Never shrinking from the fight,
However hard, however small,
Is more important than surviving.
That’s not why we’re here.
We’re here to become excellent,
Little by little, piece by piece,
The small battles, well fought
Truly lead us to our Captain, our Lord.
So fight the good fight,
Never give up,
And always seek for
Excellence in the little things.
Originally published 07-12-19
I came across the title line for this poem in my old notes, and thought about how really, if you think about actual rock climbing, a lot of the effort is made before the climb even begins. Most people don’t make it to the top of the cliff because they don’t start climbing.
We fall because it’s hard to climb
Not many gather ropes and harnesses,
tools and chalk and carabiners,
Not many arrange with a buddy
to belay each others’ climb.
Not many leave the valley
and head to the mountains.
Not many make the time to go and
face a sheer rock face.
Few will reach up when tired
for the next slim handhold,
Few pull a belayed companion
who needs a little boost.
Few ascend a cliff face,
and few summit a mountain.
Few can turn and look and see
the world they’ve overcome.