You may recall that I got my family kicked out of my father-in-law's house last month because I skipped church. Well, after our Sunday church skipping my FIL decided to call the family together for a very special family home evening. My wife was worried that it was going to be some morality lecture so she arranged for my son's girlfriend to be sequestered at one her sister's house for the evening to minimize the already considerable embarrassment we felt.
So, with dread we gathered in the family room as my FIL in law began his story. This is the story as well as I can remember it. Art is my FIL and Alice is my MIL.
Many years ago, when they lived in Connecticut, the church called for a Solemn Assembly at the Washington D.C. temple. All the worthy members arranged to make the seven hour drive and many left early so that they could spend the day doing temple ordinances before the assembly. Art and Alice got to the temple early and as they prepared to go in Art was stopped at the door because his temple recommend was expired. This was very strange because he'd just gotten it renewed the previous month. But, as often happens when a new year rolls around, the bishop had filled in the date using the previous year's date instead of the current year. He was careful to point out that not only did the bishop miss the mistake, so did he, and so did the stake president who also signed the recommend. So, even though he'd recently been found worthy to go to the temple he was banned and waited in the temple lobby for a member of his home bishopric or stake presidency to arrive so that a new, correctly dated recommend could be filled out. In the meanwhile Alice went on in to do endowments.
While waiting in the lobby one irritating member of the ward saw him and got a good laugh out of his predicament and made some humourous comment along the lines that he was separated from his wife because he was expired. Okay, it wasn't funny when he told it either, but he thought it was.
After a little while an appropriate leader showed up who was able to correct the recommend problem. This leader normally stopped off at a relative's house on the way to the temple, but by fortuitious coincidence he had missed the turnoff and driven right on by. As a result he arrived at the temple several hours earlier than he would have otherwise. This probably saved Art several hours of additional waiting in the lobby.
He proceeded to the dressing room where he dressed in white, got assigned to be proxy for a dead person, and received a new name "for and on behalf of" that person. As he exited the dressing room to proceed to the next available endowment room he ran into Alice. Another remarkable coincidence.
A large crowd was gathered outside the endowment room, which was a little odd since the room was empty. They went on in and took seats next to each other in the second row on each side of the rope that divided the seats into the male and female halves of the room. At the end of the session the temple workers invited the wedding party to go to the veil first. That explained the crowd. So, they waited along with a group at the back of the room for the rather large party to go through the veil into the celestial room. As they were sitting there peacefully they suddenly heard a very clear voice that said, "For and on behalf of Arthur X. YYYYY (FIL's name), who is dead." It was so clear that Art and Alice nearly hit heads as their heads snapped around to see who had said it. They looked around and couldn't see where it could have possibly come from.
At this point Art and Alice looked at us as if we'd been told something marvelous and miraculous. It was clearly very significant to them. I tried to keep a straight face and tried not to look at anyone else in the room. Out of the corner of my eye I could tell everyone else was doing the same. To their credit, my teenage boys kept their peace and stared at the floor as if something interesting was going on among the carpet fibers at their feet.
I guess the implication was that it was from God, although he really didn't explain. I personally think someone had the audacity to punk him in the temple. He'd basically given a hint in that it could have been the irritating lady from the lobby. Otherwise I'm not sure what the point was of mentioning that particular incident. But he seemed unaware of that possibility and seemed to place great significance on that voice. Of course, if it was from God, why in the world would he waste such an opportunity saying something so meaningless? Or perhaps there is some deep meaning in those words that I can't perceive. Well, it has at least as much meaning and articulation as the rest of the endowment ceremony.
At this point my father concluded by remarking that he'd recently read something in The Church News that said that "God is in the very fabric of our lives." And his story illustrated how clear that that was. God was working everywhere in our lives. The evidence was everywhere.
And that was it. I think he was a little disappointed that we didn't ooh and aah.
I don't know what I've been thinking. The story made it quite clear to me how foolish I've been in rejecting the church. Why, it's so obvious. So many coincidences couldn't possibly be coincidences. They are concrete, irrefutable evidence of the hand of God at work in the minute details of our lives. Or something like that.
After a lifetime of fanatical activity in the church, was this the best evidence he could come up with of spirituality?