When I was a younger mother and had to miss church for some reason or another (sick child, traveling, etc.), I’d often lament aloud that I hated not going. My mother often said, “The church is not going to fall down without you if you miss today, Darling.” I knew that. What I was afraid of is that I would fall down without it. I still feel that way. I need spiritual nourishment just like I need physical sustenance.
I spent part of the weekend in Myrtle Beach, and this morning was just as busy as the rest of the weekend. When I looked at the clock and realized that I only had 50 minutes to shower, dress, and drive to the chapel, I thought, “Hmmm. Maybe Elizabeth and I can just stay here and watch church on television. Or maybe there’s a local church that I can visit today.” But no, I decided to hustle so that I could be edified and uplifted among some of the people I love.
I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, the experience was a virtual feast. From the time I walked through the side door and passed the Primary room, memories of a bygone era washed over me. In that very room, my three children had learned stories and songs about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I had served as a counselor in the organization. With a lump in my throat, I continued towards the chapel itself and found it full to capacity. While I was wondering where to sit, Sam, a friend from that earlier era, jumped up and pointed me to an empty seat by Teresa, another old friend.
Everything about the meeting was memorable, and I especially enjoyed mingling with old friends and talking with some of them afterwards. Carol and Greg are expecting another granddaughter any day, Elder Servin is enjoying working in Myrtle Beach (he was recently in Camden), Eric is looking chipper, Patty is embarking on a new career, and Cora Lee’s little red haired granddaughter is adorable. Tiffany, my daughter-in-law’s sister, gave the opening prayer, and her husband offered the closing one. Afterwards, he joked that it was the only time he’d ever had the last word.
After talking with Teresa about her college-aged sons, I scooted out the same way I had come in. By then Primary had begun, and while the “cast of characters” has changed, the message is the same. I’m so thankful for the teachings and guidance that the LDS church gave to me and my children. And I’m also grateful for my fellow and sister saints. No matter where I go or what ward I visit, I know I can count on love and acceptance and unity within the church.
In the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Unity is the hallmark of the true church of Christ. It is felt among our people throughout the world. As we are one, we are his.”