Note: As I just realized that today is my 400th post. Crazy.
Last night my EC and I attended the Hill Cumorah Pageant. It is something I have always wanted to do - but have never done. As I mentioned previously, we celebrated our 26th anniversary on Wednesday, and on a whim, I whisked my wife away to upstate New York. It was a good choice.
This post is not to "review" the pageant from a critical approach, but share my experience.
As we were driving to Palmyra, it began to rain. We whipped into a Dollar General store and bought 2 rain ponchos. Neither of which cost a dollar...
When we arrived, what looked like an Elder's Quorum with orange vests directed the parking with ruthless efficiency. It was about 2.5 before showtime, on a Thursday, so it wasn't too crowded yet. We walked down through to the seating area and looked for a seat. In true Mormon fashion, the majority of the close seats were saved with tape, books, blankets, ropes, etc. It was like Sacrament meeting pews on steroids. We did find some good seats amongst some lovely senior citizens from Orem.
I was impressed by the size of the stage. It was huge. It is a multi-level set, built right into the side of the actual Hill Cumorah. There were big league lighting towers, wires, riggings and all the hallmarks that they knew what they were doing.
Conformists that we are, we put our blanket on our chairs and wandered off to find some dinner. There is a giant food tent with chicken, burgers, etc., provided by local Palmyra civic groups. I don't know how they feel about Mormons, but they must feel great about the Pageant - they were raking it in. I was just what you would expect, OK food at crazy prices.
As the thousands gathered, most everyone seemed to be in a peaceful, good mood. Granted, it wouldn't be an LDS event without some protesters. These guys were my favorites:
Apparently, protesting from this distance is a two-man job: One to hold the sign, and the other to spout ridiculous nonsense into a megaphone. I must admit, of all the protesters I have ever heard, this guy was actually the funniest. He has apparently worked on his material over the years. Misguided, but funny.
We retrieved our forgotten bag of Starbursts from the car and wandered back to our seats. It was still raining a bit, but not too bad. At this point, the cast members - in full costume - were out mingling with the crowd. Most had a Book of Mormon in hand, and referred to it to share a scripture with whomever would let them. They were sweet.
A pair of costumed young men struck up a conversation with some folks on our row, and discussed the gospel with them. It was great to watch these teenage boys - all they will need to do to be fabulous full-time missionaries is to turn nineteen and put on a suit and tie. At the end of the conversation, the boys left with a referral card in hand, leaving behind their testimonies and a promise that a Book of Mormon would be brought to their home.
It was about this time that my phone battery died. I think it was divine intervention. Instead of posting pictures and bantering on Facebook with my bad-influence friends, I could focus on the event itself.
The rain dissipated as showtime neared. No, I was not surprised. The night air was cool and clean. The cast members gathered, and everyone took their seats. At precisely 9:15pm, the show began.
The show is huge, and spectacular. There are 700 or so performers, an excellent sound system, and great source material. (I'm not going to worry about spoilers, because if you don't know the ending by now, you need to be reading something else besides this blog.)
The story followed the Book of Mormon through Lehi, Nephi, Abinadi, Alma to Samuel the Lamanite. I was mostly focused on the staging, lighting, special effects and overall scale of the show. Then came the scene where there was great destruction, after which Christ descended from the skies. It was cool. Of course I was wondering more about the rigging they used to lower him, and admiring the staging as Jesus ministered to the people. I looked over to my EC as a little child rushed into Jesus' arms. She was crying. I wasn't...
The story proceeded to the time of the final battle where Mormon turns the plates over to his son Moroni.
After one more battle, Moroni was left wandering the empty stage alone. He approached the audience, with his arms outstretched, holding the golden plates. He then begged with the familiar words
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true..."(Moroni 10:4)
I was surprised - this was unexpected. I did not "need" another witness to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and I wasn't looking for one. My testimony doesn't know any "more" today that I did last week. But, in God's kindness, I was blessed with a divine reassurance, for which I am grateful. It is true. Always has been.
When I went into the pageant, I was wondering how, and if, something as delicate as the communication from the Spirit could find its way through the spectacle, the special effects the volume and the masses.
The answer is yes. And I highly recommend it.