After the initial shock of moving away from home and college, becoming more established in my new community, and adjusting to the demands of my new career, my thoughts did start to turn to spiritual matters once again. I was praying more, and I was always interested in learning more about religion, but for whatever reason, I didn’t really consider myself to be a Catholic anymore. It had never even occurred to me that I could even switch religions, I had always figured I would be a Catholic, or nothing. And then I read a book by Glen Beck.
Some people might groan to hear that, and I can’t apologize for being more conservative than liberal. But I will point out that this was his first book, back when he was a lot less partisan. Anyway, I was working out at the Adirondack Nautilus, listening to the book on CD while I was on the stairmaster, when I was struck by the passage about his own conversion into the church. I don’t remember many details about what he said, just the feeling that I had. It wasn’t enough to make me run to the phone and call the missionaries, it wasn’t even enough to make me look up the church online, but it was a feeling that had stuck with me.
I had actually met a pair of missionaries several years earlier. I was taking a geology summer course, that brought us to Red Rocks park in Colorado. My group was exploring the rocks on a small cliff overlooking the road, when a pair of Elders pulled up to see what was going on. So there we were, on this little ledge halfway up the outcrop, too high to jump down, too far from the top to easily get away. We were sitting ducks, and the missionaries knew it. Oh sure, they started off innocently enough, asking us how we were doing, how we were enjoying our day, and asking about the NY license plate on our van. But soon after one of us made the mistake of saying “yes, this is nice weather we have out here” one of the missionaries jumped right in and informed us that was all due to God and his love for us. Now, ordinarily I can enjoy a religious discussion, and I’ve always enjoyed learning about other view points. But we were literally hanging from a cliff at this point, so my conversion would have to wait for a few more years. Ironically, on this same trip we spent a week or so in Utah, and I have absolutely no Mormon stories to report from that part of the trip. Zion Canyon is lovely however.
Fast forward to 2005-2006. I was now dating my future wife, and we were commuting about 3 hours twice a month to see each other. On one of our visits, we started talking about religion, and I did mention that if we ever got married and had kids, I would want them raised in a church. When she asked me which church, I replied that I would like to learn more about those Mormon folks.
And that’s when she dropped the bombshell that she was actually raised and baptised as a member of the LDS church. I had no idea. We hadn’t talked about church all that much. Mellissa had her own spiritual journey. Her parents had converted to the church when she was young, and she was baptised along with her siblings. The most common story I hear from her youth in the church is about how early they had to get up for seminary. (Seminary is a religious class high school students attend. In Utah, it’s built into the day, but out east, the class is in the early mornings before school starts. For our current seminary students, class is 4 mornings a week, and starts at 6 am.) When Mellissa graduated high school, the prospects of going on a mission seemed daunting, as did joining the Relief Society, which is the Churches organization of adult women. Plus her own family was going through some struggles, and she just sort of fell away for a while.
This revelation that I had an interest in the church, and she had a membership in the church was pretty interesting to both of us. But again, not to the point where either of us were prepared to do anything about it. Fortunately, other people were about to do something about it.
In my next blog, I’ll talk about how I met more missionaries, and actually talked to them this time.