Tag Archives: Church

Courage at Twilight: Sunday Sabbath

Today is the Sunday Sabbath.  My laptop is hooked up to the flat screen via HDMI chord, and we are watching church by Zoom—the sacramental service, the hymns, the prayers, the speakers, the Sunday School class.  I have brought to Mom and Dad bowls of six-grain hot cereal cooked with apples and cinnamon, cooled and enriched with cream.  When church services are over, Mom asks me to take her envelope with her tithes and offerings—her alms—to the bishop, for the support of the Church and the poor of the Church.  And I walk home to discuss with them the deep doctrines, and what to cook for dinner: chicken fricassee in creamy red wine paprika sauce with steamed zucchini and corn on the cob.  After dinner will come attempts to read, and naps in recliners.

Courage at Twilight: Choir Practice

When church services ended, Mom led me to choir practice, held in the home of a neighbor.  The director was thrilled to have a new bass, and gave me a choir folder with my name on it, filled with favorites like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Consider the Lilies, and John Rutter’s I Will Sing with the Spirit.  Mom was the ward choir director when I first started singing at the age of 12 in our New Jersey ward.  I learned from her so much about the beauty, complexity, and dynamics of choral singing and conducting.  She held this position for nine years.  In my forties, I was asked to direct the choir in my Utah ward.  I borrowed Mom’s choral music library, cleared the mental cobwebs, and put to work all the knowledge she taught me decades before.  At the same time, I sang in a wonderful Salt Lake City community choir, learning even more.  I have not sung with the church choir for a long time.  While choral singing can be uplifting and therapeutic, too much pain kept me away from people for too long.  I am happy to be singing again in the ward choir.  And as Mom expressed in choir practice today, “I am so grateful to be singing.”  Amen.

Courage at Twilight: Off to Church

We drive 200 yards to church—walking is just not an option.  I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  First, a little context.  Our local church units are called wards.  The ward one attends depends on where one lives.  So, moving from Tooele to Sandy, my church record was transferred from the Westland Ward to the Crescent 18th Ward.  A bishop presides over each ward.  Every ward member is given the opportunity to contribute to the ward’s functioning (e.g., teaching youth classes) and to minister to the ward’s members.  All ward members serve voluntarily, without pay.  My first Sunday in the new ward, the bishop stood at the pulpit and invited to stand, telling the congregation of several hundred that I was new to the ward, and that I had moved in with my parents to help take care of them.  As I stood up, I resisted the almost irresistible urge to tuck in my shirt and pull up my slacks.  I am what I am; let them see me.  I felt the unusual nature of my situation: an older single man moving in with his octogenarian parents.  And I was sure Dad felt chagrined and being identified publicly as needing to be “taken care of.”  But these are all good people, many of whom approached me after the meeting to welcome me enthusiastically into the ward.  “I’m Brad.”  “I’m Ann.”  “I’m Bishop Callister.”  “So glad to meet you.  Your parents are such wonderful people.”

Front Corner Pew

Church can be a welcoming, joyful experience or a lonely, isolating experience, depending on from where one is coming and to where one is going, and on one’s frame of mind along the way.  This poem shares one perspective, where the influence of little children and of love make all the difference.  That I could do for someone what they did for me–that is a wish.

Front Corner Pew

the front corner pew
is least conspicuous for one
who desires to be both

faithful and unseen, for the pastor
looks long across the harvest
to who occupies the back

corner chair signaling
I am broken and belligerent, but here
where the hard metal numbs

the mind, the Good News
half heard across the distance
and having given both ample chance

I had chosen to sit unseen
alone on the front corner pew
when a father marched by

with his three fidgety lambs
who looked at me and relaxed their faces and uncrossed their arms
to each smile and wave

at me
and incapable of resisting I
twitched a smile

and convulsed little waves
in return
and wondered how

something so soft
could chisel stone
and without excoriation

alter me forever
though they were quickly gone
through the chapel side door

Image by ddzphoto from Pixabay

Roger Baker is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human heart.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.