On June 23, 1996 I eagerly counted down the final minutes of church. I had a special appointment that afternoon. Finally the time came and I hopped in my family’s hideous green station wagon and rode to Healdsburg to meet with Patriarch Mortensen. I can’t remember what his house looked like on the outside but when his wife welcomed us inside the ornate Victorian furniture fascinated me. I couldn’t remember seeing anything quite like it. I was careful not to lean back too far into the sofa for fear its delicate back would snap off. I looked at the end tables topped with carefully placed magazines. Blurred sunlight reflected from their glossy covers. My eyes followed the light streaming through the window. I gazed outside and wondered what exactly I was going to hear today. I tried to sit still and act in a way that showed I was ready for what was about to happen. I tried to be anything but 12-years-old.
I had been here a few months before when my sister received her patriarchal blessing. She was 16 at the time and I was so floored by the whole process I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait that long. I had a habit of trying to do things early in my life and my patriarchal blessing proved to be no exception. I was so excited to be back in the same house knowing it was my turn. After we waited for a few minutes Patriarch Mortensen greeted us. He asked if he could speak with me alone. I followed him into the study and he pulled up two chairs next to a large desk. I had already had an interview with the bishop and I anticipated Patriarch Mortensen would ask some of the same questions. I tried not be distracted by his snowy white hair or his hazy blue eye that had been damaged in a stick fight when he was a kid. I specifically remember him asking me about the significance of the sacrament. He asked me if I understood that the receipt of promised blessing depended upon one’s obedience to the gospel. I said I did. I knew that in order to receive all of the blessings pronounced in a patriarchal blessing I would need to be a faithful member of the church for the rest of my life. I was ready to make that promise.
Patriarch Mortensen invited my parents and his wife into the room and we moved into a corner with two bookcases. His tape recorder was on one of the bookshelves. He shared a few words with my parents and I. He was the only one standing and he took his place behind me. He spoke into the tape recorder and when he was sure it was on he placed his hands on my head and we all closed our eyes. Over the next few minutes he carefully spoke the blessing. He took his time and paused here and there as divine inspiration flowed to him. I tried to catch every word, every meaning. There were some unfamiliar phrases and it was indeed a lot of information to hold onto. When the blessing ended I was so grateful to President Mortensen for being able to carry out such a sacred calling in a wonderfully comforting and inspiring manner. I was very keen to study my blessing but it would be about two weeks before I could receive a transcribed copy in the mail. Patriarch Mortensen would first have to send a copy to the church headquarters in Salt Lake City so the sacred record would never be lost.
When I finally received a manila envelope addressed with beautiful calligraphy I tore it open very carefully. It revealed a watermarked sheet of paper covered front and back with beautiful words in bold typeface. I read through the blessing and showed it to my parents so we could all remember what was said. The blessing is incredibly valuable to me because it speaks of my lineage in the House of Israel, the role my tribe plays in these latter days, what I was like before I came to earth, and the things the Lord would have me accomplish here on earth. Most importantly, the Lord promises to keep me safe so I can complete my mission in this earthly life. Whenever I’m driving in a scary snowstorm or walking down a dark street I remember that although I may face physical peril, I will have the faith to be healed and move on with my life.
I’m very grateful for my patriarchal blessing. At times I laugh at my eagerness to receive it when I was only 12. Then I remember that this is simply how I am – always eager to learn more in hopes of one day returning to the presence God and being able to dwell with Him and my family forever. Throughout the mire and monotony of any give week it is easy to forget that our purpose here is simple: return to Him. Even better: take as many people with you as possible. The more the merrier, right? I really hope to have a family and be able to see my children receive their patriarchal blessings. More than anything, I am elated to think that one day they will discover their mission in life and pursue it valiantly. In meantime I am still searching for mine. Maybe it’s hiding right under my nose; maybe I’ve already had a chance to begin it. Either way, I know I’m here for a reason and I know that my Father in Heaven loves me.
For more information on patriarchal blessings: http://lds.org/study/topics/patriarchal-blessings?lang=eng&query=patriarchal+blessing