While sitting between basketball games at the Mormon Temple, I wandered into the room where they teach Sunday School to the under-12 crowd. I used to be stuck in there when I was a kid, so seeing the room again was eerie. Even more bizarre is the mural that has been on the wall since the 1960s. Thank God I had my camera:
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This painting used to scare the blithering nuts out of me. There was something so haunting about having your life spelled out for you in this way, as if we were on some unflinching continuum on our way back to the Heavenly Creator.
The most distressing part, for me, was the actual artwork. Rendered in that caring, inoffensively deft touch of the whitest 1950s, this was the sort of painting they used to hang in hospitals, the places where my great-grandparents would hang up their proud souls to die amongst bedpans and the smell of barf.
Underneath each image of this mural is a plaque: BIRTH – TEACHING – FAITH (the kid with the book) – ETERNAL MARRIAGE – WORK AND SERVICE (you can tell by the hard hat) – EVERLASTING FAMILY – ADVERSITY (you can tell, because the Mormon guy finally loosened his tie) – CAREGIVING – and then, of course DEATH (which isn’t really death because Man lives forever). And then it’s back up to the heavens with ya.
Life just seems depressingly short and full of terrible things to wear. The quote on the ADVERSITY plaque reads “remember, Jesus said that God always hurts the ones he loves,” and hey, who would know better than Jesus, huh?
When I was little, I used to look up at the picture and think that I was probably the age of that kid reading the Bible. Now I look at this thing and think “I’m the motherscratcher in the hard hat.”