Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I first knew him as Brother, then Bishop, then President.

Mostly, though, I knew him as Bishop. He interviewed me to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, become a Teacher, and become a Priest. He counseled with me while I navigated the tumultuous waters of puberty and adolescence. I remember him from a June afternoon playing baseball at Sunnyside park. He was pitching: "Ed, you his this ball over the fence just one more time and you might be looking at going back to being a Deacon."

He is a bit lanky, like a scarecrow, with auburn hair, always finely combed. While orthodox in his approach to Mormonism, he wears clothes that skirt the edges of the Utah norm: a baby blue seersucker suit, for instance, with a red and white striped bow tie. He walks with a bit of a lilt, his tall shoulders stooping in a fashion reminding me of my image of Abe Lincoln. Like Abe, too, his face is creased and sallow from years of bearing the concerns of the masses.

When I was 14, he ran for the Utah senate. I attended the state convention where he vied for his party's nomination. I heard him rouse the crowd with his speech--there amidst the elephants, popcorn, and lawn-signs--and then sighed because I knew, as I then reasoned, that he didn't have enough money to win; darned millionares own the senate, he just didn't have a chance.

But the Lord moves in mysterious ways and, after losing, he became my Bishop and then my Stake President before finally accepting a job in Washington D.C. as head of the President's task force to enforce laws against pornography.

About a week ago, though, his father died and he returned to my--and his--home ward for Sunday services.

My dad and I were running late, we pulled in just in time for the beginning of the meetings but, before I could get out of my car, I noticed my old Bishop lumbering lightly up the sidewalk, then the stairs, then into the door of the church. His walk was slow because every few feet brought an embrace, a delighted face, or, so far as I could see, a vocal expression of joy at his return. He had to stoop a bit to return the hugs and, though he was out of earshot, in my mind I could hear him returning the greetings in his soft, beleaguered-sounding voice. A smile spread across his weary face, visible even from the parking lot.

I watched the reunions and thought:

How beuatiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice writing. I enjoyed reading it.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Eric Nielson said...

There are many unsung heroes in the church. Thanks for providing a song.

11:40 AM  
Blogger tyler said...

Thanks to both of you. Here's to the unsung heroes.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is even better reading the second time around. If that MD thing doesnt work out ------- I think you might have a future in writing. You have some very serious talent. Im sure you have fabulous parents. You are fortunate and blessed.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

very nicely written.

4:48 AM  

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