This happened a few years ago, but I was reminded of it today during church and I thought I’d share. It’s heavily LDS, so my apologies if you are unfamiliar with the jargon.
I remember it well because I was so deeply affected by it that I took the time to jot a note about the incident. I’m glad that I did, though my initial attempt to record it is an embarrassment of over-florid prose. I’ll try to keep this simple so I don’t get in the way of the experience.
It was a normal Sunday. We were on time and sat in a middle row near the front. Our ward is uncharacteristically small for Salt Lake City, so we don’t have to be early just to get seats with cushions. Indeed, it’s small enough that most of the Aaronic Priesthood boys are involved with passing the sacrament—even the Teachers and Priests.
Indeed, one family arrived shortly before the meeting began and slipped into the row in front of us as it was yet entirely empty. Their boy, three or four years old, ranged across the entire bench, managing to take up the entire row all by himself. Fortunately, he was short enough not to be seen over the bench and was surprisingly quiet so he wasn’t a disruption to others. I felt sympathy for his mother as she watched over her very active son. I thought
of the Savior’s admonition to “suffer the little children” but it looked to me that the mother was the primary sufferer on this occasion.
On this Sunday, the Stake Representative took some time for announcements, one of which was the upcoming ordination of one of the Aaronic Priesthood boys to become an Elder in preparation for his mission. The boy, when asked to stand, rose from the bench of deacons (towering over them as he was both large and athletic).
While the bread was passed, I noticed that the small boy in front of me was too busy with his quiet-time toy to be bothered with taking any. When offered, he shook his head and his mother, perhaps resignedly, passed the tray along. I remember smiling a bit at how gracefully she had handled his refusal.
When the deacons were done and all lined up, I saw the boy again as he noticed the line of young men and remembered that it was the sacrament—and that he hadn’t gotten any. He raced to the end of his row and quietly tugged at the boy in front. At the front of the line was the tall young man who would soon become an elder. At this point, the Priests had already stood, and it was time for the deacons to move. I wondered how the soon-to-be Elder would handle this development.
Well, handle it he did. With dignity and reverence (and maybe a hint of a smile) he reached down and offered the boy his tray of bread. He did it so smoothly that I doubt many in the congregation noticed at all that the line of deacons had hesitated. His patience in that moment of expectation, when he knew he should be leading the others forward, stands in my memory as one of those quiet times that divinity manifests unannounced. In a little ward in Salt Lake City, a tall, athletic young man demonstrated what it truly means to “suffer the little children to come unto me.”