Monday, September 24, 2012


Saturday, our ward and the next ward over were assigned to clean our building in preparation for the broadcast of the Brigham City Temple dedication yesterday. 

Ordinarily, a few families go in on Saturday to tidy up a bit, but since our meetinghouse was going to serve as an extension of the Temple for a few hours, the bishop asked everyone in the ward who could make it on Saturday morning to come.

We started with breakfast: the bishop heated tortillas for us and his counselor offered grilled potatoes and peppers, eggs, cheese, and salsa to fill them. We got time to talk and enjoy the food while our leaders literally served us, blessed to be able to take for granted that aspect of Jesus' teachings.

After breakfast, we went in to the building. The Relief Society president had drawn up lists of tasks to be done, and people fell into place working. Because of my height, my job was to take down light covers in the hall. I would then hand them to my friends' four-year-old daughter, Mary, who would carry them out the doors so the young women (with help from my eight-year-old daughter) could clean them out without dropping dust or dead bugs on the church carpet in the process.

As we worked, Mary and I would sometimes pause to help out with another task. We helped the Relief Society president bring some things to a closet and stayed to pack them in, so that she could go back to answering people's questions. ("I feel like all I'm doing to help is talking," she told me. "Your brain makes it easier  for everyone else to work," I said.) We helped the Executive Secretary get the covers off the lights in the Clerk's office. And then we'd always go back to getting light covers off through the long hallways and in the classrooms, walking past people happily at work on our right and on our left. 

After maybe an hour of work, we passed Mary's mom, who was cleaning with some other ward members in the Elders' Quorum room.

"Your daughter's a really hard worker," I said.

"She's having an easier time here than at home," she said back. 

"I guess that's the Beehive effect," I joked. "Work is better when we're all together."

But here's the thing: it really was. I spent my whole morning with my arms above my head, taking off plastic light covers until I wore away the outside layer of the skin on my thumbs and scraped up all my knuckles on the ceiling, and it felt so good. I mean: how can you not feel good when a four-year-old girl is working steadily alongside you, feeling strong and important as she carries pieces of plastic up and down the hall? How can you not feel good when you see your daughter working next to young women and the women who guide them, wrapped in their sense of belonging and purpose? How can you not feel good when everywhere you look there are people who believe that this work means something, who see their simple labors as part service and part worship?

Last week, I wrote a post about how organized religion can be useful. Today I want to say that it's also beautiful to me, that there's something hard-wired into my biology and inherent in my immortal soul which can't help but find such harmony stirring.

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