It was at the beginning of our Primary lesson, when we are especially reverent, that Sister Gentry said, “I want you all to close your eyes.”
We all shut our eyes, wondering what she was going to do next.
“Very good. Now I want you to picture yourself walking up to the doors of the meetinghouse. As you look around, you see that the grass hasn’t been cut in a long time and that big clumps of weeds are growing here and there.
“You enter the building,” Sister Gentry continued, “and walk down the hall toward the chapel. The hallway is littered with crumpled papers and broken crayons. The walls have scribbles on them and dirty handprints. A big cobweb hangs in the corner.
“Passing the cultural hall, you see plates of stale food piled up on tables. Crushed cups and dirty napkins litter the floor. The stage curtains have gaping tears in them, and the carpet is badly stained from spills that were never cleaned up.
“Entering the chapel, you notice the shabby seats. On closer inspection, there are dust bunnies under the benches and in the corners. Discarded programs are sticking up behind the hymnbooks. And candy wrappers and dry cereal are scattered on the benches and floor.”
Sister Gentry paused for a moment. “Now open your eyes and tell me how you felt during your imaginary tour.”
We all agreed that we felt dirty and sad and wouldn’t want to go to such a place again.
Sister Gentry explained that our meetinghouse is the Lord’s house, a sacred place. And we all need to do our part in keeping it clean and beautiful so that His spirit will be there.
After Primary was over, I walked down the hall to the bishop’s office to wait for my dad, who’s in the bishopric. I noticed how clean the walls were. I didn’t see any stains on the carpet, or cobwebs in the hallway. The cultural hall was spotless, with all the tables put away and the chairs lined up neatly against the walls. The curtains on the stage looked perfectly fine.
As I passed the chapel, I stopped short. Sticking up behind the hymnbooks were sacrament meeting programs. The picture Sister Gentry described popped into my mind, and I quickly collected all the programs and papers that had been left there. I felt bad for those people who didn’t understand how special the Lord’s house is.
My arms were full, and I was looking for the nearest trash can, when I spotted my dad with a quizzical look on his face. I looked back at the clean chapel, and a happy feeling came into my heart. “I’m just doing my part to keep the church clean,” I told him.
Dad gave me a quick squeeze, and we both knew that the Lord’s spirit was there that day in our beautiful building.