Monday, April 6, 2009

General Conference

I remember talking with my brother in law one day. He said to me, “If you knew that Christ would be speaking to his people hear on earth, what would you do?” I looked at him a little confused, not sure where he was going with this, and I guess not being a real deep thinker, I shrugged and said, “I’d listen.” “So, would you give anything you had to be there, to hear what he had to say? To feel of His spirit? To be a part of that experience?” he asked. “Well, yeah” I simply said. I still didn’t know where he was going with his questions, but I figured, who wouldn’t do that? He nodded at my answer but didn’t say anything more. Finally I asked him, “Why? Wouldn’t you?” “Well, sure I would. But when you think about it, what do you think General Conference is?” Then he walked away and left me alone with my thoughts. That conversation put a whole new perspective on conference for me.

As a child conference was about picking my mom out in the crowd of Tabernacle Choir singers and to see how often the camera showed her on TV. As I grew older, I tried to see how close she was to the Prophet and General Authorities. Again, as I grew older, the messages grew more important and it was with some disappointment when the choir sang the closing hymn. I finally started to recognize the importance of the words being spoken to us over the pulpit.

This past weekend I had a really interesting experience. I mentioned to someone I hoped they had an enjoyable conference weekend. They replied, “I guess it’s time for me to be called to repentance again. I’m going to be told what I need to do to improve and better myself and be told all the things I am doing wrong.” Wow. Though I think it was mostly said in jest, I was saddened to think that conference would ever be looked on in this manner.

This conference was a highlight in our family. The Gilchrist men have a tradition that has been going on since my husband turned twelve. It has followed through all the brothers and is now continuing on through the grandsons. With every Priesthood session of conference the men all attend together then after the session, the patriarch of the family treats all the men to dinner. My youngest son is the latest to join the ranks of the Gilchrist men. This Priesthood session was his first and what an exciting time it was for him. He came home that night to tell me all he had learned during the meeting and then all he had for dinner. It’s a tradition he is determined to carry on with his own sons.

At the close of conference yesterday, I noticed on the news, saints from Africa and Spain spoke of the joy and love they felt being in the very room with all of our church leaders. They both spoke of feeling the spirit and how strong it could be felt. It was gratifying to note that evangelical college students from California attended the afternoon session of conference and spoke of it being a blessing to attend that conference session. They were the first students from their school to attend.

I know the areas I need to improve. I know the areas I fall short. As Pres. Hinckley asked of us to, “Try a little harder to be a little better” conference inspires me to want to do just that. Most of all, I walked away from conference with a feeling that our Father in Heaven may have billions of children, but I am indeed one of them. There is such a feeling of love and gratitude that conference provokes in me. I am always left feeling so uplifted by the experience. I feel spiritually charged and anxious to set goals to find ways to better myself.

Conference ended with the Tabernacle Choir singing “God Be With You ‘til We Meet Again.” It was a song I have heard my mother sing with them hundreds of times. It touched a tender place in my heart. Just as all of General Conference has done over the last two days.


Jennie said...

I found this conference particularly uplifting. The talks about temples touched me deeply, but I also felt a deep sense of love and concern for all those who are or will be facing difficult times. And as always I took delight in President Monson's story telling skills.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Great blog, Jeri, and what a neat tradition with regard to the priesthood family gathering. That sounds like a tradition my family would love . . . especially getting together for the dinner afterward. =D

On a more serious note, that is so cool that your mother sang with the Tabernacle Choir. It probably tugs at your heartstrings to hear them perform. I found their music uplifting and soothing, except for that final number. That particular hymn is still a bit too tender for me just yet. (It was performed during my b-i-l's funeral last April)

Gale Sears said...

Such great thoughts about General Conference, Jeri. I went through a ton of tissues as I felt of the love the leaders have for us. I felt uplifted and encouraged by their words and blessings. The Lord's spirit was there in abundance.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Thanks, Jeri. And I also have to echo Cheri- how cool about your mom! Was she a soprano or alto? Not that it matters...just curious. :-)