When I was a kid our church meetings were held in a building we bought from another church. The main floor was the chapel with long, narrow stained glassed windows along the tall walls and ceiling that came to a dramatic point. I spent many a boring Sacrament meeting watching the sun dance on the colored glass, making the pictures of Noah’s Ark and Baby Jesus seem to come alive with heavenly light.

The church kitchen and all classrooms were in the basement. When I was about ten years old the ward members faithfulness paid off and we moved into a brand new building that everyone helped construct and pay for. The 1970’s building was the beginning of the distinct LDS chapel look that I have known ever since.

I can spot our chapels at a long distance. With its distinct spires and lack of a Christian cross at the top, rarely am I wrong at pointing out our chapels. On the interiors, my childhood chapels were constructed with concrete block walls painted white with magical slick industrial grade paint that repelled thousands of grimy kid hand prints. Or maybe what I am remembering as always clean walls was the result of full-time paid custodians. I wish I knew what kind of paint was on the concrete walls. I am confident I would never have to paint my kitchen cupboards again if I used that stuff.

In the past 10 years all church buildings I have been in have their interior hallways covered in what I like to call sandpaper carpet. It is a form of torture designed to take off the top two layers of skin if you are unfortunate enough to brush against the walls. I can’t tell you how much I hate sandpaper carpet. A lot, which is not a feeling I think Heavenly Father wants me to have as I walk through His buildings. Thank goodness I haven’t seen sandpaper carpeted walls in any temples. I wouldn’t be able to participate in any sessions due to my hard feelings against whoever thought skinning me alive was a good idea.

Sandpaper walls have snagged my pantyhose, given me wicked arm burns and grabbed my fuzzy sweaters making holes in the pretty stitching. That doesn’t even count the very real fact that sandpaper carpeted walls are ugly. And that the unforgiving nature of the stuff creates a herd mentality of everyone crowding into the center of the hall, trying to avoid a Sabbath debridement. It makes the halls crowded since no one can use the full width of the space.

The other thing that changed somewhere along the way is the Zone Heating and Cooling. Instead of controlling climate for the whole building, each room is heated and cooled separately. Since no one seems to be in charge of pushing the button, I am constantly sweating to death in the summer and freezing in the winter. Not that I am complaining. I’ve already tried that and was patiently schooled on how because the chapel is so large, even after pushing the button it can take an hour for the room temperature to change. So unless the Bishopric, who arrives at church first, remembers to turn on the heat/air conditioner when they arrive, it won’t matter if someone turns it on halfway through Sacrament meeting. I’ve gotten over it. I just always bring layers of clothes to peel off or add on depending which room I am in. I’m not willing to arrive at church an hour early to go around from room to room, pushing the heating/cooling buttons.

I know it sounds like First World Whining. Compared to the tragedies and suffering that happen daily around the world, how can I waste precious imaginary ink on such trivial complaints? Because I don’t live in a war zone, I live in a comfortable town in mid-America where I can’t believe such simple problems can’t be overcome. If we can do amazing things, like invent Space Bags that have solved all my blanket storage problems, why can’t we figure out how to make our church buildings wall friendly and temperature regulated?