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|“Time is only unto man”: exhibit A|
Jan. 19th, 2008 at 3:13 am
I don’t think I ever thought seriously about the sacrament until my mission, when I received a letter from my grandfather. Grandpa had a long history of service in the Church, and so I regarded him as one who could enlighten me on the “mysteries of the kingdom” through our correspondence during my mission, and looked forward to what treasures his letters might hold for my understanding of spiritual things. So it came as a head-scratching surprise to me when I got my first letter from him, and the only spiritual content of the letter was when he discussed how he looked forward to the effect the sacrament had on his spirit every week. That letter didn’t answer any of my long-standing questions about various gospel teachings or concepts, but it did make me pay attention to the effect of the sacrament on my spirit every week, which I have come to regard over the years as one of the most personal, steady, consistent, and verifiable evidences of the restored Gospel. It has really become one of the pillars of my faith.
Fast forward 12 years, and I find myself once again far from the comforts of home and family. My work has me doing project management consulting among the oil installations of Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope. People here work on rotational schedules, where we fly up and live and work for one or two weeks on the Slope, then return home for time off, then take the charter flight back up and do it all over again. When we get up here, we are assigned rooms as near as possible to our work locations, in small dormitories that house thousands of workers all over the Slope. It’s not unusual to have to change rooms 2 or 3 times during a stay here, as availability changes and schedules are adjusted to accomodate a dynamic stream of workers in and out of the area.
Last week, I came up here and after a few days I realized I will need to work a marathon schedule for the next couple weeks and forego a weekend trip back to Anchorage for r&r. One of my first concerns was, where will I be able to take the sacrament?, because there are no advertised Church services anywhere here at my camp complex. I thought about calling a bishop and requesting permission to give myself the sacrament in this situation, because I think it’s important for me to not go more than a week without having that ordinance.
While this has been on my mind, yesterday I got a new room assignment, so this morning I moved my belongings to the new room I was assigned. I noticed that the guy who had been in the room before me had not fully moved out by that point in the morning, but I dropped my things off and went to my office to work, expecting he would clear out his things during the day. When I got back to my room at night, I looked and saw that this stranger had left a note for me on my scriptures:
Out of a pool of maybe 2,000 workers that rotate in and out of this camp, I happened to get a room that happened to be occupied for one night by a guy who happened to be LDS, a group that is probably south of .5% of all the people that work here, and he happened to be running just late enough this morning to come back to the room and see my scriptures on the table.
I know this can all be dismissed as a wildly improbable coincidence, but given the number of times this kind of thing has happened to me in the context of the Church, I know better than to see it that way. I think a lot of people look at members of the Church like myself and wonder why we embrace a belief system that seems so outlandish, and it’s hard when we don’t have time to rattle of all these little “wild improbabilities” that have stacked up in our lives over the years and formed that preponderance of evidence that the Gospel we embrace is true, and more importantly, that God is watching over us and is willing to remind us of that fact from time to time.
My grandpa was a counterspy with the FBI in WWII, and he knew what it was like to spend time away from the comforts of home in challenging environments. As for the guy who left that note on my sciptures- maybe he realizes he was the answer to a prayer, maybe not. I’ll find him in the BP directory tomorrow and let him know. I probably won’t let him know that I think Grandpa whispered in his ear just the advice I needed to make it through what is likely going to be a tough year in a challenging environment away from home.