The North Star

By Wendy Ellison

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(Based on a true story*)He that followeth after righteousness … findeth life, righteousness, and honour (Prov. 21:21).

“School’s out! School’s out!” the bell in the old brick tower seemed to sing. Its familiar chime wasn’t just announcing the end of an ordinary day—summer had arrived at last and it was time to put away pencils and close schoolbooks.

Gordon waved good-bye to his classmates and friends. For him, the end of school signaled the beginning of a summer spent miles away from the city on the farm where he could run barefoot in cool grass and wiggle his toes in a calm stream.

The family cottage, with its splendid mountain backdrop, was nestled in a stretch of land rolling with fruit trees and gardens. Cows grazed, horses raced, chickens roamed. The air was clean and fresh. The land held plenty of room to explore and plenty of opportunity to grow.

Bedtime was early because the call to chores came early in the morning when the dew still clung to tender grass and leaves. Farm work was hard work and everyone in the family was expected to do his or her part.

Weeding and watering the garden, gathering eggs, picking fruit, and attending to the chickens and horses went by quickly when everyone helped out. Father saved one chore especially for Gordon and his younger brother, Sherm.

The family cows would be the boys’ responsibility alone, and their father taught them how to care for the cows. Learning to tend to Polly and Beth wasn’t easy, but the reward was sweet, warm milk that the brothers enjoyed.

The milking companions were close in age, and even closer at heart. The two were inseparable in the city and nothing changed that on the farm. When they finished their chores, the warm summer days stretched before them, full of adventure. Drenched in summer sunlight, the brothers and best of friends rode in wagons, played on haystacks, and played tag.

Following their afternoons of adventure, when night had draped its darkness over every corner of the farm, the boys climbed into the old wooden wagon. Lying on their backs, they looked into the shimmering heavens.

Gordon and Sherm gazed earnestly at the millions of stars that filled the clear night sky. They pointed out and identified constellations they had read about in the encyclopedia. Then Gordon traced the outline of the Big Dipper, connecting the dots with his finger. And just off the cup he found the object of his search.

“There it is,” he said. Anchored in place, the North Star was always where it was supposed to be. Gordon knew that if a sailor charted his course by it, he could find his way safely home. “I want to be as steady as that star,” he thought.

There were many summer days on the farm and many nights sleeping under a blanket of stars. As Gordon grew older, he never forgot the lesson of the North Star.

Today, so many years after that young boy first gazed upward to find his favorite star, millions of people look to him. And true to the wish of his youth, his life reflects the message of the star that held its place in the heavens. As the prophet of God, President Gordon B. Hinckley can always be found helping to guide others safely home, steadfast and anchored as firmly as the North Star.

[An Anchor]

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“[President Gordon B. Hinckley’s] constancy, service, and faith … are an anchor to us all.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, June 1995, 13.

Illustrated by Steve Kropp

Show References

  • See also Ensign, June 1995, 2–13; May 1989, 65–67.