It is Sunday. March 17, 2013. I have just arrived at church. Sacrament meeting is about to start. I settle into my family’s customary pew with my wife and 16-year old daughter. The bishop comes over. He asks me to give the closing prayer. I agree automatically. No big deal. It’s not like I haven’t done this a million times before.
The meeting begins. I start ruminating on how this day would have been my parents’ 72nd wedding anniversary. I miss my dad. He died March 9, 2011.
I miss my mom. She died October 10, 2000.
I don’t miss one more than the other. I miss them both.
The sacrament is being passed. I feel a distinct impression to mention Heavenly Mother in my closing prayer. I try to shake the feeling. I can’t. This is something I am supposed to do.
Our high councilman is speaking now. I continue to wrestle inwardly. I think how easy it would be for me to ignore the impression; to just give an orthodox closing prayer. I think how nobody would be the wiser. Except me. I would know.
I realize giving a customary prayer is not an option. My wife looks over at me. She sees I am troubled. She asks what is wrong. I say, “I hate it when God asks me to do hard things.”
She asks me what it’s about. I say it has to do with my closing prayer. She looks alarmed. She asks me what I am thinking of saying. I say, “God has bidden me not to tell you.” I am kidding. But I don’t want to get into a conversation with her about it in the middle of sacrament meeting. Even though we are whispering, there are people all around. Before and behind.
She tells me I don’t know this is from God. I tell her that actually, I do. She says it could be just something I want to do. I tell her there is no way I want to do this. She says I need to consider my audience. I tell her I figure God has already considered that.
The end of sacrament meeting approaches like the footsteps of doom. On the bright side, no sacrament meeting has gone by faster. Especially with a high councilman speaking.
The congregation sings the closing hymn. We are at the last verse. I walk up to the stand. My knees are like water. I think they might buckle.
I have settled on what I will say. I know I just have to get the words out of my mouth. The hymn ends. I step to the microphone. I look out over the congregation. Every head goes down. My heart hammers in my ears. I plant my feet shoulder-width to steady myself. I grab the lectern with both hands.
I take a deep breath. I begin:
Dear Father and Mother God . . .