Primary Angel

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“Primary Angel,” Tambuli, Sept. 1992, 9

Primary Angel

I once asked Dad if I would see an angel. He said that he didn’t know, but he hoped so. “They’re all around us, you know.”

Well, I saw one last Sunday, I think.

Before I tell you about it, though, I need to explain something. Sometimes Sundays are hard for me. I don’t understand much of what happens in sacrament meetings. And since my feet don’t touch the floor, my legs hurt from hanging over the bench. I think parents ought to sit on giant chairs every week, dangling their legs above the ground while listening to someone speaking in a foreign language, so that they understand what it’s like.

Last Sunday was hard. Sacrament meeting had seemed extra long, and the baby behind us cried a lot. By the time I got to Sharing Time, I just wanted to go home to my pet caterpillar, Zipper. Jimmy Pasko and Fred Grey didn’t help, either. They kept talking to me about the movie they had seen on Saturday. It sounded a lot more interesting than Sharing Time.

I kept moving around on my chair, trying to get my legs to quit hurting. Finally I leaned my chair back against the wall and stretched my arms. It was an accident, but I hit the light switch, and all the lights turned off. A lot of the kids laughed. I quickly turned the lights back on. Then, for some reason, I turned them off again—but that time it was on purpose.

That’s when the angel came. I didn’t think she was an angel at first. She looked more like an upset Sister Eisen of the Primary presidency. She came from the front of the room, staring at me with wide blue eyes. She looked like Mom does when she has a headache and I’m pestering her.

Sister Eisen bent down and whispered, “Dan, let’s go outside for a moment.”

I thought she would talk to me about being reverent and threaten to get my parents if I didn’t behave. But instead, after we left the room, she calmly asked, “Dan, how are you doing?”

I didn’t feel safe, so I shrugged my shoulders.

“Having a hard time today?” she asked then, still calm.

Feeling safer, I said, “I hate it in there. Sometimes I just hate Primary.” After I said it, I thought I had made a mistake. I was sure she would talk to me about my attitude.

But she surprised me. She said, “Tell me why you hate it.”

I thought for a moment, then decided to tell her the complete truth. “My legs hurt from dangling over the seat in sacrament meeting, I didn’t understand what the speakers said, my chair is hard, it’s hot and noisy in the Primary room, I’m tired of sitting, Jimmy and Fred keep talking to me, and I wish I were somewhere else.”

Then she said, half smiling, “I know. Sometimes I wish I were somewhere else, too. So, what do you need to do, Dan?”

“I just need to walk around.”

“Do you need a drink?”

I thought for a second, then said, “No, not now. Just a walk.”

“How far?”

“Just to the end of the hall.”

She said, “OK. May I walk with you?”

“Sure,” I said. We started walking, but I stopped. I looked at her and said, “Sometimes you hate it here, too?”

“Well,” she answered, “Let’s say that sometimes I have a hard time being here.”

“Then why are you here? You’re a grown-up. No one makes you come.”

“Because,” she said, “it’s OK to do something we don’t like, especially when we know that it’s right.”

“What do you mean?”

She looked at me for a moment. “Dan, do you remember what happened at the end of Jesus’ life?”

“You mean when they nailed him on the cross?”

“Yes. And even before that—do you remember when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and it was so painful that he bled from every pore?”

I told her I remembered that and also that they whipped him and made fun of him.

She then said, “You know, I don’t think he liked doing any of those things. But he did it because he loved us and he knew it was right. Did you know he even asked Heavenly Father if there wasn’t another way?”

She paused, putting her hand on my shoulder. “So I figure that if he didn’t like doing hard things that were right, it’s OK if I don’t like doing hard things that are right. And it’s OK if you don’t like doing hard things, like being reverent in Sharing Time when you’re hot and tired.”

I noticed as she was talking that she kept putting her fingers on the side of her head. So I asked, “Is it hard for you today?”

“Yes,” she said. “I have a bad headache.”

I stood there for a moment, feeling very different than I had ever felt about Primary. I looked at Sister Eisen and said, “I don’t think I need to walk any farther. I can go back in now.”

She told me she was glad, and we returned. Before we went in, she said, “You know, Dan, I really like you.”

I told her that most people did after they knew me.

She went to the front of the Primary room, and I sat down in my chair. After she sat down, she looked at me and smiled. Then she touched her fingers to both sides of her head, like Mom does when she has a headache, and winked.

Although my chair still felt hard, the room was still too hot, and Jimmy and Fred still kept trying to talk to me, I didn’t mind so much. I wondered as I watched Sister Eisen if Dad had been talking about her when he said that angels are all around us. I think I’ll tell him that I saw one last Sunday—and that she had a headache.

Illustrated by Robert McKay