I got the privilege of helping out with the Super Saturday for the Phoenix Temple Cultural Celebration today. For those not familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, when we build a new temple, it is always a long-anticipated and celebrated event. The youth prepare for months, and the night before the dedication they put on a cultural celebration full of music and dance. The First Presidency of the church is there, and they are literally dancing for the Prophet of the Lord, praising God and worshipping Him.
Today was a sunny, warm day, and the kids were practicing and getting familiar with the field, for hours and hours. The people who have planned and taught and planned some more were out there with them, working their hearts out all day long. Some of the adults were setting up last night until after midnight. This truly is a labor of love.
I drove a vanful of teens, and after dropping them off went to my designated helping-out place. As I watched and, well, helped occasionally, I was struck by a few thoughts about life, talents, work, and yes, even writing. I do think about writing a lot--especially right now, during National Novel Writing Month. I am sunburned and more than a little tired--not complaining, just explaining why this might seem a mite disjointed as I try to express what I'm feeling. Here are three things I remember:
1)Oh my goodness. I think I cried about 15 times today. Something like 5,000 kids on that field, sometimes together, sometimes in groups--and even as they were being teens, they were being AMAZING teens. You could feel their spirit--feel their light--even when they were being too loud to hear directions, or walking "left" instead of "stage left" (which in this case was actually right). I was just honored to be in their presence.
**Takeaway from that--these kids weren't perfect, but their light SHONE through, and they weren't necessarily "trying" to have it shine. They have been becoming who they are their whole lives, and what they are, is enough. It's the same for all of us. We don't need to put forth this huge effort to show the world our light--in fact, we shouldn't be doing that. We should be improving ourselves, preparing ourselves, and then the light just shines. Who we are is enough. Our light--our example--is a natural result of the progress we are making in becoming who God wants us to be.
2)The program had choreographed numbers, with people needing to be in a certain place at a certain time. But, a lot of the time, the kids were not exactly where they were supposed to be. And it was O.K. I saw some weird holes in the lineups of kids where they didn't fill in the field evenly, and the people who were in charge of those things noticed them. I guarantee that the audience, President Monson, and the Lord, really are not going to see those little gaps. The effort doesn't have to be perfect in order to be acceptable to the Lord. The kids were doing their best and that was awesome!
**Takeaway: Well, just what I just said. Our efforts don't have to be perfect to be acceptable to the Lord. We just have to be doing our best.
3)Some of the people leading the kids were.... less nurturing, while others were amazing. The magic potion seemed to be that some people were very caught up in everything going smoothly, and others were okay with the gaps, people being a little late or early on their marks, or whatever the little foibles and perdiddles were that happened. With that many kids, it was inevitable that those things happen. It occurred to me that the kids may or may not remember the oopsies that happened here and there, but they WILL remember the feeling they got from the leaders.
**Takeaway: Our own lives, efforts, and writing adventures will go much more smoothly if we can be okay with misadventures. In life, we don't know which twists, turns, and perdiddles are necessary to get us where Heavenly Father needs us to be. We will trip and fall, be late or early on our marks, and have our own "oops" moments. Those things are inevitable. Our lives can be happy in spite of those things, and maybe even because of them, depending upon OUR attitude in how we handle them.
So, I did not write a single word on my new NaNoWriMo novel today. I'll have to catch up next week. But I wouldn't have traded all 1,667 words of my daily goal for the experience of today, and the insights I received while being able to have some tiny little part in this wonderful celebration that our youth have prepared for the Lord.
PS: DO NOT MISS THIS CULTURAL CELEBRATION!!! You can find it online at 7 pm (Arizona time... is that Mountain now? Stupid Daylight Saving).. www.abc15.com, or if you are local you can see on on ABC 15.2 (their "HD 2 channel). Really. You will be uplifted.