His handshake was the gift for which we’d waited,
clumped in our districts, lining the gym’s walls.
Young women and young men—not one was seated.
We were a brigade of children—our souls
half-keen, half-forgetful, but fully vested.
Patriarchal blood quickened our flesh veils.
Our able hearts pumped promises ancestral;
our stripling minds held covenants celestial.

We inhaled eagerness and exhaled patience.
Each minute seemed a dispensation of time.
We pitched our eyelids open wide like tents,
and when the door creaked, we turned on a dime
to face it—like Saul about to dispense
with his sight. Is craving witness a crime?
From his entourage, the surgeon broke free.
Though wonder was ours, he outdid our glee.

Then one by one he blessed each with a handshake,
sealed with a smile and eyes beaming joyful.
What better gift for us could wise hands make
than one moment’s meeting with an apostle,
his sole focus for an eye’s twinkling? Wake,
if you can, to a better seeming gospel.
Some wondered as they shook their spirit brother’s
hand; they hoped his hand had shaken Another’s.

This greeting was not all he’d give. Instead,
he took us to the Sacramental place.
The hands which mended hearts now broke the bread.
Eyes over hymnals marked his priestly face.
This special witness knelt before us, led
our president to do the same with grace.
Their operation sought to cure each Thomas,
and vouchsafe testimony’s binding promise.

Though in our early 20s, we were children.
We were children far from parents and home.
But we were mighty children. Called. Chosen—
God’s children pointing toward His empty tomb.
And lo, we there became an Elder’s vision:
Behold, we beloved children, in whom
you seem well pleased. Hear us. We now bestow
on you our trust, that you may see and know.

Poet’s Notes:

This poem is based on a mission sacrament meeting I attended in 1995, at which President Russell M. Nelson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presided.

Image used under a Creative Commons license, courtesy of Flazingo.