Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sweetness Follows

Every Thursday morning at 9:45, three little elderly women come to the Provo Temple to do initiatories. I am privy to this as I spend more than half of my shift in initiatory, either organizing patrons at the desk or performing the ordinance. We were surprised and concerned last month when we did not see Sisters Nelson, Jenkins, and Ellsworth for three weeks. They rejoined us last week, to everyone's relief.

Sister Nelson is easily the strongest and healthiest of the three. She calls around 8 a.m. on Thursdays to schedule their appointment and drives them all to the temple. Her husband died a month ago, hence their absence.

Sister Jenkins is usually the first to shuffle slowly in by herself. She has poofy salt-and-pepper hair and her eyelids droop with age so that I can hardly see the whites of her eyes. I have never heard her say a single word or seen her smile, but today she leaned close to my chest to look at my name tag and then looked up, with her face close to mine, as though she were memorizing me.

Sister Ellsworth is my favorite. She had a stroke--I don't know when--she just says, "I had a stroke, but I can still come," and I am sure that Thursday morning initiatories are the highlight of her week. She thanks me every time I put my arm around her to help her stand and walk from one chair to the next for each part of the ordinance. I can't tell if she recognizes me from week to week, but she looks at me as though I'm someone special, and I wonder how she can think I'm special when she doesn't even know me. Her eyes look deep into mine and lock me in place so I cannot look away, and I know she sees me as a daughter of God, and I wonder how she can see that when I can't feel it.


S'mee said...

Delurking to say that I have read your blog forever. I enjoy the perspective you bring to my corner of the world, which can, at times, be less than exciting.

Today, this post, made me tear up a bit. You always write so beautifully, so honestly, without expectation or delusion.

I love that you missed the three sisters, worried a bit about them. I don't exactly know why that meant so much to me, but it did.

FamiLee said...

I too loved this post. You write such exquisite words that I can picture the seen all in my mind. I was touched that mere strangers meant so much. Also, it made me think of everyday life things and to appreciate each moment.

Thank you for writing.

Bekah said...

What a beautiful post. Some of my fondest memories of the time I spent as a temple worker are of the interactions I had with some of the older patrons. It always amazed me at how close I could feel to, and how well I could relate with women 3 or 4 times my age. For me, the temple really shows me how short a part of life mortality is for our spirits, in contrast to how it ages our mortal, physical bodies. And I love the example of those sweet older sisters, who may be frail in body, but know that they are still capable of service to others.

And I firmly believe that when we, for whatever reasons, are having difficulty feeling the Lord's love for us, in His tender mercy He sends others to convey that message directly to us.

Emily said...

I think you hit on something profound in this experience--that someone who's lost most of their physical faculties could "see" so clearly what you can't see as clearly. I think those sisters can feel your devotion and compassion and how beautiful it is. How could you not be the offspring of deity?