Sunday, January 4, 2009

"That same sociality"

In 2003, my beloved Grandpa Benac died and I gave this little talk at his funeral. We had car trouble on the drive from Utah to Texas and ended up having to drive all night long to make it on time. At some point during that long, stressful night, this story came to my mind as the perfect representation of Grandpa's life. I shared some of this in Primary today as an introduction to the new theme "My Eternal Family."

My mother, Liz, asked me to give this talk in her stead in the fear that she wouldn’t be able to get through such a talk herself. [At this point, Angela starts to cry, probably worse than her mother would have. Oh, well.] I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something for her after all the service she has done for our family. Mom hoped that because I am the oldest grandchild, I could appropriately represent that generation.

I want to talk about one of my most cherished memories of Grandpa. Christmas before last, my family came to Dallas for Christmas, and so did lots of Benac cousins. So one day we decided to make a trip to the temple. We had enough people in our group that the temple workers gave us our own session. No one was in the room but us—and my Grandpa was the officiator of the session.

As we filed into the room, Grandpa stood at the front, watching us, dressed from head to toe in white. Some people in our group had become endowed only recently, and I enjoyed noticing how our family’s numbers in the temple were growing. I was pregnant with my third son at the time, and I sat next to my cousin Alison, who was expecting her Olivia. So if you count those babies Allison and I smuggled in, our group had four generations of Benacs whom Grandpa had led to the temple.

As he looked over our group, Grandpa had a beautiful expression. He was happy. He was pleased with all of us. He savoring his role. But his expression was also showing something more.

As I went through the temple that day, I thought about the family web we had formed on earth and that would continue beyond—because of the ordinances of the temple.

I thought about the meaning of a patriarch in the gospel—a father who leads his family to righteousness.

Sometimes I feel like I have to work hard to have the Spirit in my life, but in the temple it seems to come easily. I always feel a distinctive joy and peace in the temple. On that day I had an added feeling that I had never had before.

In Doctrine and Covenants 130, Joseph Smith wrote: “When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. . . . And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.”

No one can doubt that we have established a happy and pleasant sociality in our family here on earth. But as we sat together in the temple, I almost could feel that eternal glory—that it was only a few shades away. I was getting a sneak peek of that eternal glory we do not now enjoy to its fullest, and I understood why I have organized my life to try to lead me to it.

And at the head was Grandpa, leading us in the gospel, from the time he was baptized in 19__, to the time he attended my baptism in 1979, to the dozen or so sealings he has performed for his grandchildren. And on that day, leading us through the temple ordinances, acting out my best understanding of what my Heavenly Father is, and acting out my most cherished hopes for my eternal future.

During our family reunion last month, more than once Grandpa tried to emphasize to us his testimony that the way to find happiness is to live the principles of the gospel. This advice comes from a man who has experienced tragedy and love, plenty and privation in his life.

When I got the call that Grandpa had passed, the image that came to my mind was of him flying forth to meet the next stage of that happiness. His life is a monument to the power of the gospel to create happiness that outlasts trials, setbacks, time, and even death.

My life and that of my children is blessed every day by the gospel path Grandpa set us upon. I am grateful for his influence in my life.

3 comments:

  1. Beautiful thoughts. I've never been able to picture "heaven" as clearly as when I picture Grandpa there. I picture him sending each of my children down to me with a big hug and kiss. I picture him greeting each of our family members as they join him there.

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  2. I certainly appreciated these thoughts during the funeral and now as well. Thanks for sharing it again.

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  3. Dear Angela,

    Skip and I are so grateful for your blog in helping us feel present in your life and your children's as your family matures.

    I would really appreciate a copy of your 2008 blog book and would enjoy contributing to the project to help it evolve to completion.

    Much love and respect, Brenda

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