I watched the second hand slowly make its way around the clock face. For all of the bright, enthusiastic people running it, Sacrament Meeting in a BYU student ward really wasn't any more interesting than the Sacrament Meetings put on by the worn-out, tired families back home. And here of course Sacrament Meeting had the added fun of being mandatory, and I don't mean just "earn your stars in heaven" kind of mandatory. I mean more like "if you don't show up for church regularly, then don't bother to come back to school next semester" kind of mandatory. At BYU, your bishop was always watching, and an "ecclesiastical endorsement" from him every year was a requirement for continuing enrollment.
I shifted around in my uncomfortable wooden chair. The speaker had just gotten to the crying part of her story. I wished I were instead attending my Physics lecture that was held in the same building during the week. I felt like a real jerk for being so indifferent to the girl's spiritual joy in finding the one and only true gospel, but she'd already told essentially this same story in a couple of Fast and Testimony meetings, and I really just wanted to get home and out of these uncomfortable nylons.
The girl giving the talk was something of a celebrity or hero to our ward because she was a convert. She demonstrated the wonderful effects that the only true gospel has on people's lives when they join the world's fastest-growing religion. She was an inspiration to the rest of the ward who didn't have to find the true church because we were raised in it. I sincerely wanted to be happy for her. Yet I also wanted to go home.
I looked back up at the clock. I couldn't even console myself with the thought that there were only five or ten minutes left to go since in fact the speaker had already gone over time. I started looking around the room at the other students. Some of them, mostly girls, looked to be on the verge of tears, hanging on the speaker's every word in rapt attention.
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I marveled that this level of interest seemed to come so naturally to certain people when no matter how much effort I put into it, I couldn't seem to work up the enthusiasm for this sort of thing that Heavenly Father surely wanted and expected from me. Other people, including almost all of the boys, were dozing or doodling on their programs or had on the kind of glazed expression that seemed appropriate temporally if perhaps wrong celestially.
Finally she came to the "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen" part, which meant only one more droning hymn and one more elaborate prayer. After that there would be only two more hours of meetings, each only a little more painfully dull than the last, and each with an attendance sheet to pass around and sign.
After the usual eternity, we were set free for another week. My friends and I stepped out of the science center where our ward's Sunday services were held and into the autumn afternoon sunlight.
Immediately Wendy challenged Lavyrne to a quick race, and they sprinted off to be the first to touch the wall of a building about a hundred yards away. The two of them were always racing each other like that -- best friends with a bit of a fun, competitive spirit. It was kind of a ridiculous image to see them doing it in their Sunday dresses and shoes though.
Of course even sitting reverently in church neither one of them looked particularly natural in a Sunday dress. This highlighted something of a sore spot for me about the church, namely that being the only true church on the Earth for everyone, it was necessarily a one-size-fits-all church. Yet, like most one-size-fits-all items, it fit some better than others. I certainly wasn't much more at home in the standard pioneer-gingham Sunday attire than Wendy or Lavyrne. I was dying to get back into my comfy jeans.
Some of the other girls fared a little better in their Sunday best. My older sister April, who was the RA on my floor this year, always found a way to look nice. Amy, my best friend from my high school days, seemed to do as well in a dress as in jeans. Lavyrne's roommate Trisha was kind of overweight, so I couldn't really tell if church dresses looked better or worse on her than anything else. My own roommate Janie seemed to have been born to wear a pioneer dress, and in fact looked ill at ease in her version of weekday clothing.
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