Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” Doctrine and Covenants 13
One of the things that frightened me most about getting divorced was the lack of a father figure in our home. I know I can accomplish a lot as a competent mother- but I also know, for both my sons and for my daughter, having a healthy idea of what a man is and does is vitally important. And this is something, no matter how good a mother I might be, I cannot provide.
Last night was our ward father/son campout, (as it was many places), commemorating the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood on May 15, 1829. For my boys, this announcement last Sunday was the first of many small, bumpy reminders that we are a different shaped family. My children are tender, the edges of their small lives are a little raw from what has happened to them the last year- and it’s never far from their awareness that their father is absent. They need to be handled with some care.
Over the course of this last week, as the men of our ward planned this campout, they included my children in their plans. They thought about the feelings and hearts of two small boys, and kept mindful of what they might need to feel comfortable and included, despite not having a dad present. Each boy was assigned to a specific dad who could meet their needs, even my autistic son- who was chaperoned by a father who also has an autistic son.
The boys had never been camping before. They were eager and excited, and waited by the fence watching the cars pass and looking to be picked up. Their bags, pillows and food was stacked by the front door, and when the van pulled into the driveway a few minutes late, they jumped in without so much as a backwards glance.
At almost 11 o’clock last night, my phone rang. It was a member of our bishopric, with my sons in his tent, and they were sobbing. He said all had gone well, but when it came time to retire, and they got in their small dome tent, they both were overcome with tears and wanted to go home. He had tried to soothe them, but they were quite distraught. Hearing my voice on the phone only made them cry harder, and the phone was passed back to the bishopric. I prepared to drive out the campground to pick them up, but I was unsure where they were, and it was almost midnight. The camp was remote, and they had hiked in.
Our bishop and his counselor carefully packed my tired, weeping children on the two ATVs with which they had trekked in supplies, and they carefully made their way down the mountainside in the pitch black night. Then my bishop, leaving his own son, and telling me to stay home with my daughter, drove my boys home. He even carried my sleeping son in the house, and put him in his bed. The other boy curled up in my lap and cried.
On one hand, this camping trip could be seen as a disaster. But I don’t really think it was. My boys are young, only 8 and 6, and this morning, they talked about how great the bonfire was, how fantastic marshmallow s’mores are, and how awesome it is to pee on a tree. When it got late and dark, they were frightened to be away from the familiar, and there were good men watching out for them, protecting them, and who got them to a place they again felt safe. I have a feeling this “disasterous” camping trip will have long, gentle repercussions for my boys. The take-away is far greater than the surface-story of small boys who wanted their mama and their own bed. My children have been richly blessed.
“I hope our granddaughters and grandsons grow up knowing that they are not and have never been third-party observers of the priesthood. The blessings of the priesthood, which ‘are available to men and women alike’ are woven in and through and around their lives. Each of them is blessed by sacred ordinances, and each of them can enjoy the blessings of spiritual gifts by virtue of the priesthood.” President Julie B. Beck