One reason why I love church


A while back, maybe at the end of October, an older woman in our ward asked me after Relief Society why she didn't have a calling. She looked like she was one hundred years old. She was short and then shorter because she could not stand up straight. She looked me right in the eyes and said, "I want a calling."

So, I relayed the message to our Relief Society president, and it took a week or so, but she was asked to be the Relief Society chorister.

The first Sunday she lead the music, she showed up with her baton which, she told me later, was borrowed because she could not find her own. She wrote the hymn titles in cursive on the chalkboard, and she lead the opening song with infectious charm. 

After the lesson, when it was time to sing again, as the pianist began playing the prelude, she said "Hold on, I have something to say." She thanked the pianist for being ready to play the songs on such short notice. She said she wasn't a professional chorister, but that she would do her best for us. Then, she said she needed some of us to be brave and come sit close to her. We were scattered loosely throughout our large classroom. She said in a loud voice—I can't even hear you! Come sit close to me.

All twenty of us in the room got up and changed seats. We all packed in right in front of her like a can of Sunday sardines. She said: Thank you. Now I'd like to read the words before we sing.

She read those words. I can't remember the hymn, but I do remember the feeling of sitting so close to all these women I love. Then we sang. 

I'm pretty sure all of us got a lesson of leadership & love burned into our souls. It did feel like God was in the room.

A few weeks ago, she died. One week she was taking the sacrament with us, making comments, leading the music, and then she was gone. For about three weeks in a row before she died, I watched her track down the ward clerks to make sure she had the correct tithing report—she was concerned because she had recently moved her records to our ward. She was there with us the last Sunday of the year! She introduced her daughter in Relief Society! I saw her just the next day in the lobby of her apartment building. We hugged! Six days later, she died of pneumonia. She'd waited for all her daughters to get to the hospital.

One of the last comments she made in our Relief Society was to compliment our ward music director. It was Christmas Sunday, and she interrupted our closing announcements to stand and say that we had had the best Christmas music she'd ever heard during a Sacrament meeting in the last 40 years. She said she just wanted to thank everyone who had been involved. Then she sat down.

It was so kind! And, such a gracious moment to witness. The ward music director wasn't even in the room.

After she died, I just kept having this strange feeling of holiness towards her. I'd known her for maybe 10 Sundays of her 86 year life. 86 years! Just ten Sundays! But, I feel like it is such a sacred thing to worship with someone, to be a witness for those Sundays, to be touched by them literally, but also to watch as they interact with others. To learn from them. She was so kind and so feisty. She did it just perfect.

Her name was Marian.
May we all someday interrupt meetings to give extravagant compliments!

Have you ever had this experience? Where you learned something really important from someone you didn't really know? Something you'll never forget? Or have you witnessed something really wonderful before a person died?

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