Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Kingdom of Heaven

Each fall in church we have the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program. The primary children sing the songs they have worked on throughout the year, and give little mini-talks about what they have learned.

AND each year, for the few weeks of practice beforehand, their teachers and leaders get gray hairs and freak out that nobody can hear the singing, that they mumble all the words to every song, they are so close to the microphone that their tonsils may be in danger and nobody does their part right. And, every year, it comes together so beautifully that there must be angels involved--and it proves that miracles do really happen in real life.

Today was our Ward's program. I was heavily involved in the planning and preparation stages. Serious Doubts occurred.

It was so beautiful I cried. And, as always, I remembered my friend Scott Ellsworth's poem:

xxv. Of Such
Carly spills the salt of the earth all over the pulpit.
Little Josh tells us we ought to have “face.”
The microphone hits Mary on the head,
After she mutters the main theme
Into the unhearing wood of the podium.
The eleven-year-old boys stand tight-lipped
And glowering, their hands in their pockets,
Desperate to hide behind one another,
While the four- and five-year-olds
Push their way forward to wave
Frantically at their moms and dads.
Little Hunter Boyd sniffles loudly as he speaks,
Informing us solemnly that we believe in being
Chased by an elephant and in
Hauling the ammunition of Paul.
When the chuckling fades,
Little Sister Jennifer shouts her solo,
The chorister having asked her
To sing a little louder.
The children’s hands, tall grass for pioneer prairies,
“Waving gently,” whips instead like a hurricane
Blowing six different directions at once.
Emily, whose mother emphasizes enunciation,
Opens her mouth too wide and bites the microphone.
The fidgeting children rise at the chorister’s prompting,
But all at different times,
To follow with clear but untrained voices
Their leader’s guiding hands:
Every other gesture, though, a heartfelt plea
For quiet from the smaller,
For volume from the taller.
Natalie shrilly begins her talk for the third time,
Followed by Taylor, who tearfully mumbles
A tale of which only the word “prayer”
Can be distinguished by his proud parents’ straining ears
Sister Ochoa’s class somehow gets mixed up with Brother Mitchell’s,
So we learn about baptism before we hear about faith.
The nine-year-olds laugh their way through
Their one-line explanations of the steps of repentance.
And little Max Beamish throws his sign—“Forgiveness”—
At little Sister Smith, who loudly demands that he be spanked.
Three of the Ten Commandments are apparently
“Thou shalt not kill,”
And the four-year-olds—still and small,
And all but silent—merely whisper, all unheard,
Into a microphone too high to catch a word.

And the Spirit rolls forth like a flame of fire
From the podium to the farthest row,
Filling the chapel with the mighty rushing
Wind that is the Voice of God.

Scott Ellsworth —1997

This is my version of William Blake’s “Holy Thursday” from Songs of Innocence and Experience. It’s gone through about six revisions since its first incarnation long ago.

1 comment:

  1. Aaah, such a perfect explanation of the eternal mystery of the Primary Program. Ours got moved up to mid-September, and so is a distant memory, but I am always amazed that after all the nail-biting, the Spirit attends in such strength. Thanks for sharing this!!