Life in the Great and Spacious Building.

I remember years ago
when meeting
with an older couple
as their home teacher.

When I asked about 
her son
I was struck by the answer
the good sister gave me  
“Oh, he’s moved into

the great and spacious building
for now.”
I thought that a cool-sounding way

to refer to family Mormons
who had gone inactive
or left the Church.

Then I noticed something
not so cool.
The trite little phrase
could not mask
the pain in her voice
or the pain in her eyes.
And I wondered,

was her son merely “touring”
that Great And Spacious Building
or had taken up residence and,
-as Mom feared –
intended to remain there permanently?

She seemed to assume the worst
attempt to accept the circumstance,

move on with her life
sadly planning on the eternity
she desired
– but separated from her child.
At that time,

a young Mormon father
with three children of my own,
I had no idea
that within a few years
I would eventually
take up residence 
in that same building.  

I had no idea
that my own birth family
might painfully think of me
in the context
of where I had gone
and the hard heartedness 
that now possessed my spirit.
In many families

a separation may develop
that has to do with the
true churchiness  of it all.

This abstraction, 
an actual perceptual difference
in values,
expectations and goals;
is a dissent from
the single true way
of seeing and defining things.
“I’m very concerned

about your eternal salvation.”
 After all, in a church-dominated

family relationship
members interact one with another
often with unspoken assumptions
based on an intent
to shore each other up,
it can be difficult
when the inactive member
repeatedly gets tossed
an eternal life-preserver
but keeps moving away from it.

when a member voluntarily
leaves the Church,
is  disfellowshipped
or excommunicated,
the circumstance may be
both tragic and threatening
– even downright dangerous.

The possibility
that a family member
might be critical
of the Church
and express that criticism publicly
frightens the devout.
Because the loved one
not only 0oved
into the Great And Spacious Building,
but has also opened a booth
and hung out a sign
that says “Apostate,”
or “Troublemaker.”

In my own case,
I became one
who pestered the family
without success …

until one simple fact
dawned on me,
for them
the Church was as true
as it needed to be.

The whole kit and caboodle
of church and programs
worked for them. 
That was all that mattered;  

not doctrine,
not dogma,
not Church politics,
none of those things that
had totally bothered me. 
If it works then

that’s what matters.

It is not up to me
or anyone else
to bring new information that
– if believed –
might harm spiritual contentment
without offering something
equally satisfying
in its place.

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