From 2003 to 2011, we lived in a small branch in Sulphur Springs, Texas. We loved that experience. In that setting, it just seemed a bit easier to truly know, and truly care about, every single member . . . to edge up closer to that ideal of having “hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.” I’m certainly not suggesting we were ready to be “taken up” like Enoch’s city, but I swear . . . every so often . . . we hovered.
For instance, in 2010 the whole branch read The Book of Mormon. We celebrated chapter milestones with gatherings where we talked about what we were discovering this time around (fueled by such in-demand favorites as Sister Rivera’s homemade tamales, Sister Smith’s cranberry salad, and my husband’s pecan pie.)
It was a bonding group refresher course on that most basic gospel truth: your life, and especially your relationships, are measurably lifted by daily scripture study. We all know this is true, yet some of us still have our Lemuel moments . . . you know, where we forget we “saw an angel.” But regarding scripture study, I’ve had fewer lapses since a particular night back then.
Feeding the missionaries was a frequent opportunity in a branch our size and there was nothing Matt liked more than having the Elders over. His favorite part was the after-dinner discussion. We’d all go get our scriptures and talk gospel principles.
After one of these sessions, my husband walked the Elders to the door and then went to his study while I went to our bedroom. Some 40 minutes later, he came to the bedroom by way of the living room and said … “You need to see this. Matt hasn’t moved from the sofa. He’s been there, Book of Mormon in hand, all this time.” I peeked around the corner, and there he was . . . an intense look on his face as he studied a page for awhile and then turned it.
The thing is . . . Matt can’t read.
I’ve asked myself many times since that night . . . what fierce yearning filled his dear heart as he stared at the undecipherable pages of a book that meant everything in the world to everyone he loved?
I think of that moment whenever I just don’t feel like reading the scriptures. And I think of what Mark Twain said: “He who can read, but doesn’t, is no better off than he that cannot read.”