Six Plates

Only six plates on the dinner table tonight, and every night for nearly two years, and then it will be five plates, when his brother leaves. It will be three and a half years until we put seven family plates on this table again.

Most young men leave home about his age, and this mission is the very best reason for him to leave. I am truly proud of his worthiness and desire to serve. But the table looks bare, somehow.

Did our heavenly parents feel like this when we left them, even though our step into mortality was progress, too? Our mortal birth meant the end of even our memory of them, and so many of us never pause to think of them—or communicate as often as we could. Even I, and I know better. How thankful I am for the prophets and missionaries who brought the message of the gospel and bestowed upon me the right to the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am thankful enough to be happy to set six plates on my table, that my Father’s table can be more full.Louanne Brown Barrett, Dover, Delaware


Back in those childhood days when summers were forever long, we played neighborhood games on hot afternoons. Our favorite was “Sheepie, sheepie, come home.” The bear hid. The mother stationed herself at one end of the lawn with the sheepies at the other.

The mother called, “Sheepie, sheepie, come home.” The sheepies chorused, “We daresn’t.”

“Why not?”

“There’s a bear behind the bush.”

Whereupon the mother (rather callously, I always thought) called, “Come anyway.” The sheepies bolted across the hazardous lawn while the bear tried to tag as many as possible. Those who made it to mother were safe.

The years passed. I found that childhood, like summers, ended after all. It was time for me to face the world on my own. “I daresn’t,” I cried, “Go anyway,” my mother said. So I dashed into life, encountering bears and learning how to deal with them. But I frequently retreated home where I felt safe and loved.

Now I am the mother, realizing how hard it is to say to my daughter, “Go anyway.” I wait anxiously at home, providing sanctuary, realizing the significance of that eternal sanctuary which awaits us when we have outrun all the bears, and life, like a long-ago summer, is over.Lael J. Littke, Pasadena, California

My Unknown Son

Our first-born son was blessed with an outgoing personality and determined leadership ability; he practiced both on his parents frequently. Sometimes it all seemed more than a young mother could handle, and I questioned and doubted my ability to handle the situation. I sought daily counsel from God, praying that we could raise our son in righteousness.

One windy summer day, feeling especially discouraged, I was sitting on our front porch when I saw a young boy running in the distance. The wind tousled his hair as he ran, and he had the confidence of all the world in the set of his shoulders.

I thought, if only I could raise a boy like that and have him feel about himself as this young boy did! Then the boy drew closer, and my yearning changed to joy and satisfaction as he breathlessly called, “Hi, mom!”—Patricia L. Graham, Syracuse, Utah


“A poor life this is if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”

Too many mothers I know become pressing dictators to their families, pushing them to do something worthwhile every single minute. Janeen must practice the violin whenever she has a spare minute. Joe must learn to study the scriptures to prepare for his mission. Both should exercise and be well-groomed. Of course, these goals are worthy; it is important to develop our talents.

But for a mother or father to push the children every minute is sheer folly, sure to make nervous wrecks out of everyone—including the parent.

There must be time to stand and stare at anything of beauty—the sunset, the flowers forming and fading. One must take time to stare at ants drying out their food store after a spring rain, or spiders spinning their webs back and forth. Children must follow butterflies, birds, and frogs in complete abandon from time to time.

When the six-year-old or the eight-year-old or even the fifteen-year-old daudles over his dressing, his lessons, or his getting to bed, it is his birthright on occasion to do so. No schedule should prohibit “doing nothing in particular.” We all need time to think, to stand and stare.Caroline Eyring Miner, Salt Lake City, Utah

[photo] Photography by Marilyn E. Péo