I remember when I was assigned to give my first talk in church. I was given the liberty to choose my subject. I’ve always liked birds, so I thought of the Seagull Monument. In preparation, I went to Temple Square and looked at the monument. First I was attracted to all the coins in the water surrounding the monument. I wondered how they would be retrieved and who would retrieve them. Then I looked upward at the seagulls atop that monument. I tried in my boyish mind to imagine what it would be like to be a pioneer watching the first year’s growth of precious grain being devoured by crickets and then seeing those seagulls, with their lofty wings, descending upon the fields and eating the crickets. I loved the account. I sat down with a pencil in hand and wrote out a two-and-one-half-minute talk. I’ve never forgotten the seagulls. I’ve never forgotten the crickets. I’ve never forgotten my knees knocking together as I gave that talk. I’ve never forgotten the experience of letting some of my innermost feelings be expressed verbally at the pulpit.

Illustrations by Mark Robison and Lance Fry; crickets © Getty Images; pulpit photo by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

President Monson was a boy just like me!