On the Sweetness of Mormon Life: One Face

June 18, 2006 | 5 comments

The face I have in mind is not the face of the young man (from the Two Faces post), who was to be ordained a teacher today and was instead initially pronounced a deacon instead. ‘Teacher!’ someone whispered, his face remained calm (I peeked), and it all got fixed.

-not the patient face of the gentile father who’s daughter gives a talk on eternal marriage
-not the vacant face of one of my Cub Scout’s, sitting with his grandparents, his parents divorced and absent
-not the bright face of the girl wearing the reverence sash before sacrament meeting, whose gentile father is here today and has been for several weeks in a row
-not my delighted face when one flustered speaker closes in ‘the name of Our Son, Jesus Christ.’
-not the sullen face of another of my Cub Scout’s, whose absent father is here for just today

My little daughter’s face, Margaret Rose. I’m holding her. The opening hymn starts. She starts to cry. I look down in her face, I see her roundness, her impossibly long eyelashes, her beauty. I smile at her. I sing the words to her. She quiets and is intent. Smile after smile passes over her face. My mind turns. I think that some good things will only come if I pray for them. I remember praying for her life. I think that this girl depends on my fathering. I think that I have made her smile and could have made her cry. I am frightened and in awe.

Afterwards, she sleeps in my arms. “Mine has been the good life,” the speaker says. Sweet and terrible, this Mormon life.


5 Responses to On the Sweetness of Mormon Life: One Face

  1. Patrick Mason on June 19, 2006 at 11:44 am

    Stuff like this makes me want to be a father, Adam. It may help even overcome the six months that Melissa & I served in nursery right after we got married.

    I can’t fully relate to the beautiful feelings of fatherhood, but I can say that I quite often have small observations about the people around me in church, such as you mention. I can’t always articulate it as well as you have, but it is one of the things that keeps me not only coming back to but also enjoying church:
    -the handicapped boy whose father helps him pass the sacrament
    -the new convert brimming with excitement but sad and lonesome over his family’s rejection of his newfound faith
    -the bishopric counselor who, after over a year on the job, still has to read a script when he is making announcements or sustaining people in new callings, because he is a man who lives with his hands and his heart, not his mouth

    The reason I love live endowments, despite the length, is that it gives me a more poignant feel of our human participation in sacred drama, and the fact that it is people just like you and me — not just actors on a screen — who are progressing toward godhood.

    Isn’t this church — and this mortal probation — absolutely wonderful?

    (Thanks Adam)

  2. Jim F. on June 19, 2006 at 11:57 am

    Poignant thoughts, Adam. Thank you.

  3. Adam Greenwood on June 19, 2006 at 12:26 pm


    I appreciate the comparison you make to the endowment. It makes life richer, somehow, to think that we are all wearing our roles now and in time to come we’ll strip them off and smile and catch-up with each other in the celestial room.

    You may appreciate a few prior posts in this series, especially the second one which is very like your counselor reading from a script:




    I do think you’re cut out for fatherhood, but I have to admit that I loved my time in nursery, though it was mostly because Dave and Matt had got the thing ticking over smoothly like a tuned engine.

  4. annegb on June 19, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    I contemplate this topic of faces quite a lot, more so the older I get. I watch people carefully in church, knowing most of their history, and wondering what they’re thinking.

    Sweet and terrible, indeed.

  5. Patrick Mason on June 19, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    I usually enjoyed nursery too (although I missed interacting with the adult members of the ward), but I especially enjoyed it because it ended after just under two hours. Mad props to all of you who do it for hours, days, weeks, months, and years on end. One of these days we’ll have kids and I’ll love it, but from here it looks pretty daunting.


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