This is where I get to go to church right now.
We still fill every pew in the tabernacle, and on the balcony.
Last week, the bishop asked people to sit in the choir seats before they opened the back curtain.
We sang in the choir last week, so I got to enjoy the choir seats. So this week, I figured, why not just sit myself up on the soft red choir seats before the place filled up. I sat next to Alison and we shared some Easter candy from our plush red seats. And I got to look out and see all the beautiful faces in our ward.
In a few weeks, people are going to figure out that the red plush seats are much more comfortable then the hard folding chairs. Or they won't. Some people just prefer to sit behind the curtain on the hard chairs.
I've never understood that.
But I'm sure there are folks out there who wonder how I can stand to look at the back of someone's head. I prefer the trade for a soft cushy seat. And they prefer the hard seat in the very back.
I won't judge it. Much.
But I wonder at it. Why is it so hard to allow ourselves to become a part of a congregation? I get why the bishop wants us all seated in the same room. We're a massive congregation. If he can't split the congregation into smaller units, I understand the significance of being together in the same room.
There is something to be said for choosing to be in the room.
I believe that a gospel principle we often overlook is the concept of unity.
We speak of individual growth, our relative perspectives, that we're each on an individual path to salvation.
When Enos prayed for forgiveness in the woods, after he found forgiveness for himself, he immediately felt an overpowering urge to help his friends and enemies to find salvation as well.
In Doctrine and Covenants 128:18 it says, For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect.
We need one another.
Christ took on every sorrow that any of us ever felt in the ultimate act of empathy.
In order to become like the Savior, we will need to exercise empathy.
The gospel is designed to allow us to choose moments where we can bear one another's burdens in acts that will unify us and help us to find salvation together.
I may sit on my little red throne high above the people on the back row and judge them for preferring to sit behind the curtain--but my salvation is tied to their salvation. In order for me to find true joy, I must align my heart with theirs and seek to understand what they are feeling.
One lesson I learned yesterday in Sunday School was that empathy and pride cannot exist in the same heart. Empathy allows me to feel joy when my neighbor succeeds, not jealousy. It helps me to understand their trial, not compare my own.
Today, I am grateful for the ideas of unity, empathy, and for my beautiful red seat.