Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Friday, February 1, 2008

My Uncle's Experience at Pres. Hinckley's Viewing

Today (even as I write this, my heart still cries...) Enid, Leticia, and I were able to attend the viewing of President Hinckley. As a church employee I was able to take my immediate family, living at home, to a viewing held from 7:00 to 8:30 this morning. Doors were to open at 6:30.

We arose for the occasion at 5:00 am, dressed for the occasion, and left for the conference center by 6:00 am. The snow was falling and it seemed to be a fairly quiet morning. There was little traffic at that time.

As we passed the conference center at 6:30 am, and we could see some folks gathering. By the time we parked under the Church Office Building and arrived at the conference center, it was approximately 6:40. We stood outside for a few more minutes in the cold and lite snow. Leticia was shivering as I held her close to me.

When the doors opened, I had Enid by my left hand and Leticia by my right. They asked us to shut off all cell phones, radios, and anything else that would make a noise. Everyone was quiet and reverent as we walked into the foyer.

They led us into the great conference hall and the first thing that caught my eye was the dark oak pulpit that was down in front. I thought of the many times that I saw him speak to the world as the spokesman of the Lord. I realized that was gone and past. A lump in my throat told me that this viewing may be a little tough in the very near future.

There were users all along the way and they led us to the far left side of the hall and had us sit down for the 10-15 minute wait. A recording of the tabernacle choir was playing throughout the building. I remember particularly the song, "Heavenly Father, are you really there?"

We waited for a few moments and I talked softly with Leticia and Enid and we decided it would take more than 620 times to fill the conference center with the membership of the Church. That would be once a day for almost 2 years...

We noticed that those who came in before us were being led out of the hall and out into the west foyer. We shortly followed suit and walked reverently through the open spaces, up the escalators to the third floor. I recognized a couple of users from our ward and stake as we walked.

I was fine and quiet inside as we walked by the pictures of the current apostles. I noticed that Elder Cook was not there yet, and I also brought to mind that President Monson and President Eyring are now a part of the quorum again.

There was no door to walk through, but as I passed from the room with the pictures of the apostles to the hall of the prophets, I felt the spirit of the Holy Ghost fill my body and told me that President Hinckley was truly a prophet of God.

We entered from the West side of the hall and walked to the East. The line of people split and walked on either side of President Hinckley. The bottom half of the casket was closed and covered with flowers. He looked very happy, and pleasant, all dressed in white. As I walked by, I had a hard time controlling my emotions. Leticia was squeezing my right hand tighter and tighter, and I had my left hand touching my mouth as the tears fell. Enid was smart in grasping a Kleenex in the room before. I found it to be a very personal thing, and I didn't look around to notice if others were having the same reaction. I did receive a gentle smile from a couple of the users who were there in the room. I'm sure they could see I was struggling.

With Enid and Leticia by my side, we then walked back into the great hall. This time we were on the upper balcony and we passed by several bouquets of flowers and pictures of President and Sister Hinckley; some with and some without their family. I was especially touched by the flowers coming from the grand children. Enid noticed one note that said that "Christmas will not be the same with you not here..."

We traveled back down the escalators and exited the building towards the west end. We walked around the front and noticed many more people gathering to attend the viewing. I thought of the great hall that started as a dream by President Hinckely. He wanted to build a conference hall that could bring many more saints together under one roof.

As I walked further, I looked across the street and saw the majestic Salt Lake Temple and I counted my blessings...

May the Lord's choicest blessings be yours,
Timothy W. Lewis