Conference, Ex-Mo Style
I know this image was posted on here earlier. But I had to use it again. I don’t know why, but this image spoke to me as I thought of my post for today. It takes the edge off of the nostalgic ennui that I feel in the fall when I think about the upcoming LDS conference. I remember what I left and why when I look at it.
I am attending the 2007 Ex-Mormon conference this year. I am looking forward to the social interaction as well as the presenters and their talks. I am mostly reminded of LDS General Conference in the fall because of the way the air changes, the shadows elongate; in the fall I am reminded of home.
I slept in back then. Ten in the morning was borderline early for me. Nine was downright brutal. But Sunday morning I would awaken to the sounds of the Tabernacle Choir and my mother accompanying them in her vibrato voice from the kitchen.
I could already smell the roast she browned in preparation for the Sunday dinner. She and my dad turned on every radio and television in the house, so no matter what room they were in, they could hear the choir or the speakers. It was like 3-D stereo, coming from above, below, and from every room.
Dad sat on the couch watching, but my mother was like me; she couldn’t just sit there when there was dusting to do, dishes, and cooking. I always wondered at the hypocrisy of expecting the woman to make a meal on Sundays, technically working her ass off for a roast, mashed potatoes and carrot gravy. It was supposed to be a day of rest, yet going out to eat and spending money, was frowned upon. Irony at it’s finest. As usual, the rules don’t necessarily apply to cultural Mormons. ‘Rest’ was never an option for my mother. Same for my sister and sister in-laws, as they all make grand meals on Sunday for their whole families. Is this cultural? You bet. But the fact that they are expected to do it on a day of rest is such an interesting conundrum. I know for a fact my brother would never take kindly to his wife saying, “I feel like a break; let’s all go out to eat.”
“Not on a Sunday,” he would reply. No, never on a Sunday.
When she would take a break, my mother brought in freshly cut carrots (remember those?), celery, and dip. We would snack throughout the speakers until the break. Then it was time for Sunday dinner (at noon.)
By the later session we were hungry again. She would make tomato bouillon and quesadillas, Postum with cream and sugar. If it was a roast for dinner, we would have roast beef sandwiches on home made rolls. The droning of the speakers was comforting, like a white-noised hum permeating the house. There was a sense of seriousness and gentle reverence about the house.
I would invariably nap during one of the talks. I could always spot the ex-high councilman. His voice held a level of monotony that lulled me into a dreamless sleep. I would breathe a sigh of contentment as I heard the final, closing sounds, “God be with you till we meet again…”
The memories of my childhood and conference seemed hinged on togetherness, because my mother made it so. This year, I will be going to a conference that is almost the direct opposite of my earlier experience. No home made meals, no naps, no mom, no dad. There will not be a pervasive sense of reverence and importance there. No, it will be an open field of possibilities, social connecting, laughter, levity and perhaps even some pain. And we will experience it all together.
Mostly, though, I will experience fall, togetherness, and family that has grown beyond the bounds of blood. We share a common goal, a common thread, and even common wounds. Some are in various stages of healing. For some it is growing beyond the wound and filling up the well that was once flowing with an illusion that they could no longer maintain. We search for meaning in a world where there are no maps, no ‘right way’, no guidance from a trusted source in a drab suit. Our closing hymn will be one of hope and faith in the unknown possibilities. And one day the sounds of the other hymn will be nothing but a memory of warmth and comfort needed in another life. We are charting a course new and individual to each of us. We are all are there because for some reason, we have sought out each other to replace the warmth we once felt in the arms of the Church. Only this time, the warmth we seek has the potential to be authentic, lasting and joyful.
Just like a gathering of friends should be.
Labels: ex-Mormonism, family, LDS Church, Mormonism, Mormons, nostalgia
Original posting from Ravings of a Mad Woman