Responding in Kind

Photo courtesy of my mother, Darlene; it's one of my favorite images of serenity.

Photo courtesy of my mother, Darlene; it's one of my favorite images of serenity.

Twice a year our church region (called a Stake in our church…maybe it’s like a Diocese in the Catholic church?…a Stake is a larger organization comprised of smaller congregational units, or Wards) gathers for what’s called a Stake Conference.  It’s our chance to hear directly from region leaders on matters of greatest spiritual interest to us at the time. 

Like all Sundays in our church, the Sunday Stake Conference session is for ALL members of the family, adults and children alike.  But prior to that gathering, there is an adults only session on Saturday night.  I really enjoy those sessions, because it’s so much easier to focus and give all your attention to the messages and the Spirit that is present.

This weekend is the first Stake Conference of the year, and last night we attended the adult session.  We listened to many wonderful talks, including one given by our Stake President.  He’s suffering from a serious case of laryngitis and could only whisper hoarsely into the podium’s microphone.  Still, his words on obediences and the temple and promised blessings was moving.  The chapel fell silent as we all worked to concentrate on his still, small voice.  When he finished, he concluded his talk with the traditional “Amen.”  But the response by most of the congregants – including myself – was surprising and unexpected.  Many of us whispered (instead of spoke aloud, like we usually do) the responding “Amen.”

I was struck at the exact moment of my whisper that although I was fully capable of speaking, I had responded in kind to the Stake President. 

It made me realize how often we instinctively respond in kind to the circumstances around us.  When things are chaotic, we feel chaotic, and maybe act in a way to add to the frenzy.  But when our surroundings are still, serene, calm, in order, we gain an inner sense of peace and begin to radiate that through our words and actions.

And if we are this sensitive to suggestions, do you suppose our kids are as well?  Do you suppose that when we are short-tempered, impatient, or just too tired, they feel and respond to those same waves of energy, making the situation that much worse?

That simple experience of whispering “Amen” has helped me to think about what I want in my environment and how it can affect me, and then how I can turn and affect my children’s environment and how they feel.  What a powerful thing it can be to fill our home with a greater presence of the Spirit and begin to respond in kind.