Rockledge Florida, USA
Sometimes, Babygirl will bring Immanuel along later for Sacrament Meeting at 1030 if he will cooperate. Fortunately, this Sunday, he did. Often, when Babygirl is able to bring him, I will tend him outside or in the foyer while Babygirl attends Sacrament Meeting, since she seldom gets to do so.
As I was standing next to Immanuel while he was in the foyer that adjoins the chapel, the deacons started passing the Sacrament bread. Immanuel suddenly opened the chapel doors and walked in, silently but resolutely. I walked in right behind him as reverently as I could (though any movement of a foreign colossus such as myself amid small Filipinos is inherently distracting).
Immanuel proceeded to march silently and, to my surprise, reverently, up the aisle, maneuvering deftly around the deacons, making his way without hesitation, right up onto the stand where he sat down near the Bishopric.
As I followed him up the aisle, I made a conscious choice to quell my swelling, mortal fatherly frustration and angst and fears of what others might think, and just reverently follow in my perfect son’s footsteps.
He sat with impeccable reverence for a few seconds next to the Bishopric, and then got up and leaned over the stand wall, still silent, as a deacon brought the bread up to us on the stand. I partook and gave Immanuel a piece of Sacrament bread, which he tasted and then handed back to me (I guess I needed double repentance, and he surely needs none).
I continued standing silently next to the piano, head bowed. What else could I do? Any attempt to steer Immanuel off his intended course would result in a scene. And he was acting with perfect reverence, so I made no attempt to dissuade him.
After the bread was passed and the deacons were lining up to return to the Sacrament table, Immanuel reverently and confidently walked off the stand, back down the aisle, and out into the foyer. I followed silently.
As soon as the deacons started passing the Sacrament water, Immanuel attempted to open the chapel doors to go back in for a repeat excursion. I held the doors shut with my hands for a few seconds. The doors are pane glass, so everyone can see full view of whatever is happening in the foyer.
I observed that Immanuel was determined to get into the chapel, and my efforts to prevent access would soon become more distracting than simply following him. After all, he had just shown me he can be perfectly reverent, when he wants to be. I once again followed him as he walked with perfect resolve and reverence up to the stand.
This time, he went up to the flowers at the pulpit and touched them. Then, he lay down on the floor in front of the first row of pews and silently stayed there until the Sacrament water had been passed.
Finally, he got up and walked over to where I had seated myself in the front row of the side pews to await his next move. He immediately, with complete silence, shoved me with enough strength to almost knock me over. After shoving my shoulder, he walked reverently back down the aisle and out into the foyer, his mortal Dad in tow.
It was during this second trip into the chapel that I began to realize that the Holy Ghost, with the help of my son, was teaching me something. And the lesson continued to distill upon my soul for the rest of the day and into the next.
This is what the Holy Ghost taught me: my Down’s syndrome son, Immanuel, is a perfect representative of Jesus Christ, whose name he literally bears. If Jesus Christ wants to walk into his own Sacrament Meeting, he can certainly do so, and who am I to even think of preventing such a blessed visitation.
Furthermore, how blessed am I as an imperfect, mortal father, to be allowed to follow in the footsteps of my perfect son, my only begotten son, as he represents my Heavenly Father’s Only Begotten Son, while he teaches by perfect example how we should be and act and think during the sacred ordinance of the Sacrament.
The part about how we think is what most impressed me. As I followed my son and overcame my own mortal concerns, and ceased to be embarrassed, and saw what my Savior wanted me to see, I kept my mind right. I imagine it is possible that some in the congregation and on the stand may have felt uncomfortable about the fact that I made no attempt to intervene as my kid interrupted Sacrament Meeting, twice.
I thought of how I, and others, would be remiss to let our minds be drawn away toward petty concerns when we should be so focused on our Savior during his Sacrament that nothing should distract us. And why would I, or anyone else, be ashamed of my Savior, or embarrassed by a perfect representative whom he sent among us to teach us with simple, tangible clarity.
My son was fulfilling part of his life’s mission. I was being taught. Hopefully others were being taught as well.
Another thought occurred to me. Did Jesus Christ himself personally walk into his own Sacrament Meeting that Sunday in the Victorias First Ward of the Cadiz Philippines Stake of the Church that bears his name and his authority?
Could it be that my son, Immanuel, was the only one who saw him? Could it be that my son, Immanuel, literally walked in the footsteps of his Namesake that morning?
I like to think so.