Monday, October 5, 2009

Conference at Our House

Twice a year Mormons gather for "General Conference" to hear counsel from church leaders in Salt Lake City. Leaders (both men and women) speak from the Conference Center (which seats an amazing 21,000 people) via satellite, television and internet to members of the church all over the world. It's quite incredible.

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Translations in every language. Latter-day Saints united on every continent hearing the same inspired messages. Two days. Two sessions each day. Some make the "Mormon pilgrimage" to Salt Lake but most gather where they are - in local chapels or homes to view the proceedings.

A tenet of faith that differentiates us from most Christians is our belief that God has called prophets and apostles in our day. Consequently we view Conference as the Israelites would Moses at Sinai. Or the Corinthians with Paul. God's word. Spoken through his servants.

We look forward to this event. It floats to the top of our priority list. We come away renewed and re-committed. I love October Conference.

For many Mormons this October weekend includes tradition. Seeing old friends or mission companions. Fall festivities. Tastes of the seasons. Like Shelah who blogged at Segullah about the smell of baking granny smith apples while listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and replacing summer clothes with neatly folded sweaters. A beautiful post. But I had to laugh at the contrasting state of affairs in our home Saturday morning.

No nostalgic aromas.
Nothing folded neatly.

Here's a glimpse into Conference at our House. Saturday morning session. With all it's poignancy. And irony.

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Mormon Tabernacle sings: "Choose the right when the choice is placed before you..."

Eliza is in time-out for trapping Ali with a butterfly net. Ali is crying. Sami yells to be heard, "Mom! Will you put my butterfly wings on?" Gordon is crying in his crib upstairs (I'm hoping he'll put himself back to sleep.) Another confrontation: Eliza pushes Ali off a chair. Ali feigns dead bug on her back. Legs flailing. Still crying. I put Eliza in time-out again. Both babies are crying now. I'm on the edge emotionally. All patience is quickly draining.

Elder Clayton speaks: "Work is a burden..."

I'm sure there was a positive finish to this sentence but that's all I heard. The boys are still crying as I try to print coloring pages for the girls. All three are arguing over who gets to take the printed pages to Mom. I leave the kids in charge of the printer (!?) to give a binky to Gordon. While holding Spencer (still crying), I try to make two bottles and place them in warm water. I drop the glass measuring cup on a plate in the sink. The plate breaks. "Aaaaah!" Deep breath. "Eliza? Will you carry the Boppies downstairs so I can bottle-feed the boys?" She jumps to help. While heading down the stairs I glimpse Doug returning from his bike ride. Relief!

Elder Osquthorope speaks: "Parents are teaching the future leaders of the church..."

Mom: "Eliza! Come down off the table! Don't throw the phone!"
Eliza: "Mom! You're not being patient!"
Sami: "Mom! Look! I'm a cow!" (On all fours. Mooing.)
Ali is playing with a train and singing along to the tune of "I've been working on the railroad."
Mom: "Ali - will you go get my pump?"
Ali: "Oh yeah Mom!" Sweet little helper. For the remainder of Elder Osquthorpe's talk I can't hear much over the whoosh whoosh of the breast pump and the crash-bash-farm-noise of future leaders.

Elder Bednar speaks: "Is love openly shared between parents and children?"

Doug bears his treasures from his ride to the top of Millcreek Canyon. Maple leaves. Soft. Velvet. Red. One for each girl. He kisses his daughters on the cheek. Gordon and Spencer are no longer crying. Full tummies. Offering smiles.

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Elder Bednar continues: "Be not weary in well-doing..."

Doug cleans the playroom, folds blankets, stacks toys while I staple packets of coloring pages together. Doug brings out the table and chairs. The girls clamor into their seats. I get the buckets of crayons. Doug puts the boys down for tummy-time. I explain the coloring pages and kiss Ali whose feelings were hurt again. The girls quietly color for a few minutes while Doug and I laugh at Elder Bednar's remarks about young families.

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Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings: "Whenever I hear the song of a bird..."

Eliza recognizes the song as one I sing to her at bedtime. Ali shows her coloring masterpiece to Daddy.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings: "Oh may my soul commune with Thee and find in Thee my peace..."

I stop tapping away at the computer to survey the scene. My five beautiful children busy and content. Playing quietly, kindly with each other. At least for a moment. Sami finds "cupcakes" in Doug's ears with her pretend otoscope. My handsome husband dangles colorful toys in front of the boys. Eliza rubs Gordon's head. "Hey Buddy" she says. And kisses his cheek.

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My heart is full. I know we are doing God's work. Communing with Him not just on weary knees at the end of the day but minute to minute. I need His Spirit, temperance and strength. I lose my patience too often. I want to do better.

The mail clangs through the door and I think of all the days the mailman must hear someone crying as he slips envelopes onto our floor. Still. There is a peace here. Peace when I remember family is everything. When I remember that all of this is temporary and eternal - with things bigger and grander still to come.

President Uchtdorf speaks: "Love ought to be the center of everything we do in our families...it is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy."

I know what he says is true. Yet I feel sad. In my haste to meet everyone's needs, keep everyone fed, clothed and happy, sometimes I forget the reason for it all. The reason for Him. A Redeemer. For us. For family.

Love.

President Uchtdorf hears my thoughts: "Don't ever get discouraged when you stumble along the way."

I throw diapers in the trash, place my milk in the fridge, come back downstairs to sit with my family. I smile at Doug. He smiles back.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings: "Why should we think our lot is hard? 'Tis not so. All is right."

Ali climbs into my lap. An unseen hand picks up the pieces of my tattered soul. Smoothes them out. Folds them neatly. Tells me I can.

We change. We move on.

Yes. All is right.

12 comments:

  1. Wow Cath. I needed to read your blog at this very moment that I did. You are a strength to me.

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  2. Beautiful! You have such a way with words - it must be your soul and the beautiful way you look at the world.

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  3. so powerful this gospel in action. you make me smile. xox

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  4. I have to let you know, I was reading the part out loud about Eliza trapping Ali in the butterfly net and Sami wanting her wings to Keith. He smiled and said, "Eliza's a smart kid. It's a legitimate reason to catch someone in a butterfly net if they are wearing butterfly wings." I thought you would enjoy that. :) Love you!!! Please call and have me come over. I miss your family dearly!

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  5. Now this is how a blog should be. Loved it! Ate it up.

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  6. Ang, Mimi, Cristie - thanks for your comments. Blogging is my one creative outlet right now. It's nice to know I'm not just writing to the wind.

    Mary - when can you come? I'll take you any time!

    And Brodi - you're the best blogging buddy. Thanks for all your encouragement. I "eat" YOUR blog up. Every post. You always make me laugh!

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  7. Could you blog my life and make my crazy days seem as beautiful as your crazy days, with just the words you use? You have a gift Cath!

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  8. Em - Most of the time we're just plain crazy! (You know. You've been here.) Thanks so much for reading. I enjoy your comments. How's kindergarten going for "O"? Want to see you and your girls. Soon! Love you!

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  9. I love the way you express your art! Beautiful writting, beautiful family, beautiful spirit!
    I'm in SLC right now...I'd love to come meet the boys!

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  10. Pam! We'd love to have you visit - any time! Let me know when you're available. Send me an email and we'll hook up!

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  11. I love this, Catherine! Amen to each of these comments. Your thoughts and feelings are so beautifully expressed. It is so inspiring to me. I think of you often and as always, treasure our memories in the Holy Land. I need to get your address and just come over sometime. What's the best time of day for visitors??? Love you!
    Jen Hribar

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