Even though conference was two weekends ago, I find that I am still thinking about it. There is something about this semi-annual gathering that is very meaningful to me.
What I have in mind isn’t the sermons, testimonies, or advice, although I find those things valuable as well. But I have come to value most of all, I think, the common participation in a meeting that happens in all parts of the world. So much of what we Mormons do finds meaning only in the context of community. We can’t be saved without our dead, we are sealed as families, we participate each week in a communal remembrance of the blood and body of Christ. No matter which way you look at it, Mormonism is all about relationships, from top to bottom.
Latter-day saints don’t just listen to conference; they experience it, and that experience is a shared experience. The open threads on conference weekends at this blog are consistently our most popular threads, and I believe the reason is because so many of us want to experience conference with others. We seek active participation rather than passive listening. When we hear someone say “Lift where you stand”, that phrase has meaning beyond just the words, because we remember how we felt when we first heard it. Even a sermon about pickle making has now become part of our shared heritage.
I have friends in remote places who have told me about their experiences with conference. One of them told me that his son likes to say an audible “amen” (or, in the case of Elder Uchtdorf, “ahmen)” as the family sits around the computer to watch the internet feed. Another friend told me that she watches conference alone in her apartment on another continent, but that when the people in the conference center raise their hands to sustain our leaders, she is watching the proceedings on her laptop, and she also raises her hand to cast a sustaining vote. I find that image tremendously moving. Her participation is just as real and just as important as if she had been sitting on the front row in Salt Lake City.
This communal celebration of our unity and beliefs is something to be treasured.