7244261

Louise

The first of May marks our one-year anniversary of moving back to Utah from New York City. Tom and I disagreed on where we should live. I wanted to live in the Maryland Apartments on South Temple and M Street and return to the bosom of the Emigration Stake’s quirky 27th Ward. He wanted to move close to our son, Charles, and his family, in a new construction suburb a half an hour south of the city. It was a cottage community with a man-made lake for canoeing and kayaking surrounded by mountain views—picturesque but oh so suburban. We have never in our lives lived in the suburbs and I had serious reservations.

My concern was that the suburbs are by nature more politically conservative than the city and that we have been left of center, politically speaking, since our fifteen years in Minnesota. “It won’t be a good fit,” I said. “People will say things at church that will drive you crazy. You’ll always be mad and that will drive ME crazy,” I said to Tom.

I’m not going to be mad,” Tom said. “I want to live there.”

In all fairness, it was HIS turn to live where HE wanted to live. I had moved us to New York. He had been a good sport. Now it was my turn to be a good sport. It is a marriage after all. So we bought a townhouse with four bedrooms, more space than we’d had in years and settled in.

Then we went to our first sacrament meeting. The whole program was one nice couple in their early thirties. The bishop had assigned them to speak on prayer. The wife got up and said that she would like to dramatize prayer for us. “Heavenly Father,” she said, looking heavenward.

Out of nowhere a deep male voice came onto the microphone system, “Yes?”

I looked all around but couldn’t see the physical body for this voice.

Oh you’re listening,” the young woman said, surprised.

The deep masculine voice said, “I always listen to your prayers.”

My head swiveled as if I needed an exorcism, but I could not see the origin of God’s voice.

The young woman began to thank God for her blessings, but he interrupted her, “Can’t you be more specific?”

She prayed for the sick and the afflicted and he interrupted her again and asked, “What have YOU done for the sick and afflicted?”

Everything she prayed for was open to God’s direct criticism. And then I saw Him–God. He was crouched, literally, behind the organ with a microphone at his mouth. “He’s behind the organ,” I whispered to Tom, very excited to have spotted him.

Then God’s microphone shut down and the young woman was left standing alone and embarrassed for several minutes. Finally, she said, “Sometimes God is slow to answer.”

It was the best part of the meeting.

The dramatization was more fiction than doctrine. “Can you believe this?” I hissed at Tom, hoping, I think, to wake him up to the realities of church in the burbs.

He looked at me with an unusually calm demeanor. “I’m in my happy place,” he said.

Tom is good at disappearing into his head the minute he sniffs a nonsense bomb coming his way. I, on the other hand, suffer through every irrational word. His passive way of ignoring the ridiculous is much healthier, and I realized that I was projecting my own fears onto him when I predicted that he would be “mad” all the time. I was really anxious for myself.

In fact, I haven’t been angry at all. Picking my friends strictly on their political agreement with me would mean I’d have no friends at all. I’m Dutch after all. There’s not a more liberal group of people on earth than the Dutch. So when my dear friend says she has problems with the Lehi-Nephites, because “they’re pacifists” and crinkles her nose as she says it, I smile and say, “I’ve always admired them.” Then I go to my happy place.

Advertisements